In 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, inducted its first members. Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, James Brown and Chuck Berry were among the first class of inductees. Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has hundreds of acts that have been inducted. They range from classic rock n’ roll, blues, soul, pop, funk, reggae, psychedelic, progressive, punk, heavy metal and recently even hip-hop. Each one hailed as an innovator and/or influence on later acts. The museum has become a modern celebration of the current pop music culture.
Of course, the selection process has attracted its fair share of controversy over the years. For years, seminal acts such as KISS, Rush and Donovan were ignored despite more than fitting the criteria. Part of the issue stems from the fact that so many different genres evolved from rock n’ roll, making it difficult to discern what acts should be considered. Politics within the music industry also have played a role in the selection process. The issue has upset both critics and fans alike.
An act becomes eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first album. With that rule in place, acts such as Pearl Jam and Radiohead are just now beginning to receive attention. However, I’d like to look at a few acts I believe deserved enshrinement that have been largely ignored by voters:
Deep Purple: Known by most simply for the song “Smoke On the Water”, Deep Purple were one of the most successful and influential rock bands of the 1970’s. Rising to fame as a blues-rock outfit, the group expanded their sound to become heavier. They are seen as one of the bridge groups between 60’s psychedelic and heavy metal. Their influence ranges from Metallica to the Black Crowes.
Yes: Progressive rock became successful largely due to the bands Genesis, King Crimson and Yes. Genesis is already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, mainly due to the individual success of former members. While King Crimson deserves to be in as well, I’ll argue for Yes first. They evolved from a jazz-folk fusion group in their early albums to a progressive band that incorporated new wave influences in the early 80’s. Acts across psychedelic, goth, alternative and jam hold Yes in high regard. Their lack of radio hits compared to Pink Floyd and Genesis will continue to hurt them, though Rush’s induction (who recognize Yes as an influence) could help.
The Pixies: Alternative rock as it existed in the 1990’s was due in large part to the Pixies. While REM gets most credit for the rise of college rock on mainstream radio, the Pixies established the “quiet-loud” format that was copied by nearly every grunge and alternative group that came afterwards. Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain even famously said that his band was “just trying to rip off the Pixies”. While their radio success was limited, the Pixies remain incredibly influential among artists of great variety.
T-Rex: Marc Bolan and David Bowie invented glam rock together. While Bowie went on to become a legend, Bolan died in 1977 and has largely been forgotten by critics and fans alike. Bolan’s group T-Rex, nevertheless, has influenced groups from Thin Lizzy to Guns N’ Roses to The Smiths.
Judas Priest and Iron Maiden: These two groups, associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, are the bench marks for all metal acts to come after them. While Black Sabbath receives credit for founding metal, Priest and Maiden refined the sound to remove any influence of American blues. Their method of epic delivery has even expanded their influence outside of metal to include acts like Lady Gaga and Sum 41.
The Ohio Players: Another group that gets overshadowed by others in their genre, the Ohio Players were just as influential in the development of funk as Parliament-Funkadelic or Earth, Wind and Fire. Their mark on hip hop can’t be ignored either.
There are plenty more that could be named. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has unfortunately ignored many acts that were seminal in the development of rock n’ roll to its modern form. Hopefully, some of those mentioned above will be voted in soon.

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