2024 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame

Ozzy Osbourne, Kool & The Gang, Cher, Mary J. Blige
Criteria: 2024 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees with critical overview, artist reviews, and insightful recap.

Names are in alphabetical order.

(Note: DDD is not affiliated with the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame)

Page Published: 2024-05-01
2024 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees
It might be inevitable with the passing of time that interest in the annual Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees diminishes, if for no other reason than the institution has done everything in its power to dilute the so-called honor by routinely tilting the odds to favor their preferred eras and styles by stacking the voting body with likeminded demographics, or that they've further cheapened the process by blatantly manipulating the side categories to slip artists in without benefit of prevailing in the voting process.

Add to the fact that the Hall's own criteria to warrant inclusion was purposefully left vague and even the barest suggestions were brazenly ignored by voters over the years meant that induction still often came down simply to who had personal appeal to those with a ballot in their hands.

Then again after thirty-eight years the luster of being enshrined, no matter how lofty an artist's actual qualifications, was bound to wear off eventually and the 2024 Class is indicative of this.

The Main Performer inductees run the gamut from three long overdue titans, to two cultural icons whose images have overwhelmed their musical credentials and the usual handful of assorted minor riff-raff that nobody was ever clamoring for, whose artistic peak was short-lived and relatively insignificant at best.

All in all another mixed-bag, but tellingly, it's one which engenders very little passion for or against those whose made the grade in what has become over time an increasingly irrelevant institution.
Things get off to a good start with a long deserving, but perennially overlooked, artist whose commercial dominance - 70+ hits, all 13 albums hitting the Top Ten - along with her songwriting abilities made her someone who shouldn't have had to wait a minute after eligibility to be enshrined. Instead, it took seven years and two nominations for Blige to get the nod. Dubbed The Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul for her blending of styles in the early 90's which helped transform the more rigid categorization of music genres, Blige branched into acting, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2017 to go along with 9 Grammy Awards for her music.
If longevity, perseverance and reinvention count for anything, Cher undoubtedly would be the most deserving artist of this year's class. She had her first solo hit in 1965, while concurrently scoring hits with husband Sonny Bono, a time when she was seen as an exotic counterculture chanteuse. Before long opinion changed and her credibility sank, only to find a second wind in the early 70's with a string of serious solo hits which were counteracted by her TV variety show with Bono where she was his wisecracking foil. An Oscar winning acting career dominated the 80's before making a commercial comeback a singer at the end of the decade and before the century was out she notched her biggest hit which ushered in, for better or worse, auto tune as a major factor in recording. If nothing else, that's a lot of achievements for someone rarely taken very seriously.
Every so often an inductee comes along whose support by the voters seems hard to fathom and Dave Matthews Band is the latest personification of that phenomenon. It's not that they were untalented or even insignificant, but rather they don't check any of the usual boxes, be it actual credentials like massive popularity, innovation and influence, or the more malleable reasons such as a connection with a key voting demographic. They were decidedly less successful than their peers during their 90's heyday and then took to the road where they cultivated a loyal but hardly mass following, and have no iconic moments to serve as a mainstream entry point. Though their career is not without merit, their canonization with a Hall induction is bewildering.
There are dozens of these types of artists each decade to choose from… recognizable names with sustained popularity (an impressive nine Top Ten hits over a dozen years) yet who never were close to the biggest act on the scene at a given time. Being a typical mainstream rock band stylistically they have no real innovation however and thus no influence to speak of and so their qualifications rest solely on their commercial record. A tight band with good vocals it's doubtful there will be many vociferous complaints about their getting in, but neither will there be much exasperated relief or celebration.
The perfect contrast to the preceding act, Peter Frampton checks off much different boxes when assessing his qualifications, as he had a meteoric peak of two years in the mid-1970's with some enduring singles and one classic live album which showcased his musical innovation courtesy of the vox box effect he used for his vocals. But his popularity was short-lived and the perceived novelty aspect of his most identifiable feature meant respect for those achievements waned over time before his more recent reassessment. The mid-70's are unthinkable without his contributions, even if ultimately it was a blip on the broader history of the music.
If you need a reason for celebration look no further than the overdue induction of Kool & The Gang, who were one of the most versatile and durable rock groups of the 1970's and 80's and inexplicably never even got a nomination before this year. Incredibly innovative and commercially successful in multiple approaches over three decades, from the complex musicianship of their jazz-rock beginnings to their many funk highlights that made them stars, their classic dance floor workouts and their enduring romantic ballads that dominated later on. Unfortunately with the recent deaths of multiple members everybody deserving of the accolades aren't here to get them, which is all the more shameful because they should've been an automatic inductee as soon as they were eligible thirty years ago.
It's funny how time seems to move slowly within The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, as the legendary metal god gets inducted more than forty years after the peak of his solo career. But this isn't the first time The Hall made him wait, as he first got the nod with Black Sabbath in 2006 which everybody agreed was an inordinately long time to honor the pioneers of that brand of rock. You figured Ozzy would get in on his own at some point for a surprisingly strong second act in his career, helped by some top sidemen and focused songwriting, but considering his pop culture pinnacle as the befuddled patriarch of his reality TV family is itself now more than twenty years ago it seems as if The Hall forgets to turn their calendars over, at least when it comes to getting around to this subgenre.
As everybody knows the Hall Of Fame has had indefensible blind spots and outright biases to contend with over the years, from their complete dismissal of pre-crossover rock(1947-1954), to the shallow attention paid to female artists and tastes, and more egregiously a blatant disregard for all forms of black rock, particularly hip-hop outside of a few iconic names. The early 90's alt-rap scene was one of the most vibrant times in history and A Tribe Called Quest was at the forefront of the movement with groundbreaking sounds spread over a series of classic albums. Yet far from being merely a relic of a brief period of innovation, their comeback LP after decades long layoff got them huge sales and as much mainstream acclaim as they earned at their peak. Adding more hip-hop groups, which the Hall has steadfastly tried to avoid by focusing on nominating only solo acts of late, will also bolster the voting rolls, improving the chances of future rap artists, though with Phife Dog's passing even that is compromised here. Still, this is a much needed boost to the Hall's credibility and long overdue.
It's never good to trust an institution which changes its own categories in order to bypass their established rules. Considering that the Main Performers presumably get in due to Musical Excellence, this seems condescending and redundant, but allows the Hall to induct personal favorites without facing rejection of the voters since these are named by a top secret cabal of shadowy insiders which unfortunately calls into question the legitimacy of all of those who get in under this heading.
Another example of somebody who was long deserving of consideration but never so much as got nominated despite spending decades as the most consistent touring attraction in music with legions of fans who made pilgrimages to his concerts. While some may question his commitment to rock, as he mixed country and Caribbean influences freely, the Hall's own increasingly murky parameters make that irrelevant by now. At his best Buffett was a brilliant writer of both poignant lyrics and carefree hedonism with infectious melodies. Of course his death at the end of last summer makes this is a bittersweet honor, as he would've reveled in a ceremony where Parrotheads overwhelmed security and took over the joint much to the chagrin of the organizers.
Thirty years ago had they been nominated as Main Performers, there's a chance the punk pioneers might've gotten in through regular channels when the voting demographic was drawn even more heavily from those who were around in the late 1960's when this group shook up the status quo with their uncompromising approach to music. But aside from a 2003 nomination, the nominating committee didn't turn their attention to them consistently until recently at which point their impact and influence which would best offset their lack of commercial success, was largely forgotten by those who came along after their brief heyday. So The Hall does what it's famous for and slipped them in a side door.
Here's where the Hall's credibility takes another self-inflicted hit. Their shameful history of stacking the deck against black artists and women in the nominating committee and broader voting body means that when they do try and rectify the imbalance with a big name nominee the votes are never there to induct and so they put them in anyway, making the honor far less legitimate. In Warwick's case though he candidacy was dubious to begin with because she was more an adult pop artist even when young. Considering the wide array of black female acts who were purely rock, from Betty Wright and The Pointer Sisters to Salt-n-Pepa and TLC who, along with dozen of others, have yet to be nominated, this seems like a token choice and not one based on the merit somebody with so many hits deserves.
By combining artists with writers, producers and other non-performers in this category, the Hall winds up slighting those like Norman Whitfield who had the credentials to make it in decades ago, as he rose to fame as one of Motown's best producers, shepherding The Temptations in the late 1960's and early 70's during their Psychedelic Soul era, then transitioning to other projects, most notably the vastly underrated Rose Royce who were the featured performers on his huge soundtrack for the movie Car Wash.
You know it can't be escaped with this institution and unfortunately for the next two inductees the focus here has to shift to the overriding racial disparity in who The Hall honors. Alexis Korner was a vital proponent of the blues in Great Britain in the 1960's and the subsequent British blues-rock boom largely stems from that, which is genuine influence deserving of recognition. But the fact remains the number of far more influential black pioneers still waiting to be considered numbers in the hundreds and yet they insist on putting in even more Caucasians.
The other white British blues-rock figure of the 1960's to be honored this year and another who has a viable claim for induction, as virtually every prominent white blues rock musician passed through his band… most of whom have been inducted themselves, sometimes – as in the case of Eric Clapton – numerous times. But therein lies the other issue here, the aging overseers of the Rock Hall are determined to see any and every person they had a personal affinity for make the grade to validate their own tastes from when they were young. That's why names from 1960's and 70's continue to get more inductees than those from 1990's which has a deeper pool of candidates left to consider.
And to top it off, the Hall, in their desire to not be called out for their obvious racial biases, finally sees fit to induct Big Mama Thornton, someone who certainly was a monstrous talent, but who also is known mostly because white artists - Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin - had more enduring hits with her songs. So even when they're trying to balance the scales incrementally, they're only showing their true colors so to speak. Thornton's skills were impressive, but her career, even just among contemporary females, takes a back seat to someone like Faye Adams who not a single person in the Hall's boardrooms would be able to identify.
Another Motown connected figure, one more behind the scenes than Whitfield, but someone who cynics can easily say was chosen to make up for the areas the Hall traditionally falls short in. Though her résumé is very diverse and interesting and she's some impressive achievements in a number of fields, musically her credentials are rather slight and she's had no real impact on rock's evolution. Just at Motown alone Janie Bradford would be far more deserving of induction for actual musical and organizational contributions.
Like so many things that once held some widespread collective interest - stamp collecting, baseball, burning witches at the stake - The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame has lost whatever allure it tried clinging to as its governing bodies furthered their own personal views and interests at the expense of an objective and accurate celebration of rock history.

As a result the announcement of another class passes without much notice... or much interest, even with the welcome news that long overlooked artists Kool & The Gang, Mary J. Blige and A Tribe Called Quest comprise the three most qualified inductees in 2024. Congratulations to them... and to the others who got in for reasons that are far less noteworthy, though far more apparent demographically.

If there's a bump in streaming numbers for the artists in question, chances are it'll be very short-lived. Their legacies are equal parts ensured and obscured and by this point in time, with so much well-deserved derision for their methods over the years, there's little The Hall Of Fame's announcement will do to change that.

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