Criteria: The Top 150 Candidates (Eligible artists who have yet to be inducted and are not among this year's nominees). Candidates names are in alphabetical order. (A through C)
(Note: DDD is not affiliated with the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame)
Written By: Sampson
Last Updated: 2020-07-19
QUALIFICATIONS (on a scale of 1-10)
10 - The Immortals
9 - Deserves To Be A First Ballot Lock
8 - Should Be Guaranteed An Induction
7 - An Eventual Induction Is Likely
6 - Should Be Nominated At Some Point
5 - Worthy Of At Least A Debate For A Nomination
4 - Not Insignificant, But Shouldn't Be Nominated
3 - No Business Being Debated By Committee
2 - No Business Being Even Mentioned
1 - No Business Visiting The Hall Of Fame Without a Ticket
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Candidates A-C
Pioneering rock balladeer, its first legendary tragedy (dies playing Russian Roulette backstage Christmas Night, 1954), member of the Memphis supergroup Beale Streeters with R&R HOF'ers BB King & Bobby Bland, possessor of three #1 R&B hits including the posthumous crossover smash "Pledging My Love" which helped introduce rock 'n' roll to white America in the winter of 1955. Should be a sure thing for recognition alone, as he's the biggest name in 50's lore not yet in.
Alice In Chains
The likelihood for induction seems high at first glance for AIC, as they were one of the most popular bands of the early 90's Seattle-based grunge explosion that the music media fawned over, giving them both the objective success and subjective industry respect that generally make for solid bets. However, they also have some drawbacks when it comes to the types of acts the Hall generally champions, namely that they were relatively short-lived with their original members – lasting just three albums, along with having more of a metal tinge to their music, a style the Hall traditionally underrates, and of course they didn't record in the 60's or 70's which is what the voters prefer. Though their bigger name peers have had no trouble getting recognition by the Hall, they're not quite at that universally known level to ensure their hasty induction, so it may take a few years before they get in.
For a brief time the group was at the forefront of the alt-rap movement of the early 90's with some major hits one of the most acclaimed debut albums of all-time and and they seemed poised to define the era but they weren't able to build on it and soon faded from the scene. With all artists from the last 35 years of rock releasing much less material than the first 35 years their limited output might not do them in altogether, but they remain a long shot.
Though fairly successful new wave icons they also have an image in the mainstream as too kitsch-oriented, which is always a drawback to be taken seriously by voters. But even if the campy impression they left hurts them, they have the requisite handful of familiar hits to provide easy reference to and remain familiar figures in a style that was widely admired, so at the very least they could have enough support for a nomination at some point.
Afrika Bambaataa is the ground zero point for the explosion of hip-hop culture as a whole. Though beaten to the charts by the Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Bambaataa soon followed with the breakthough hit "Planet Rock" in 1982 which not only paved the way for the rap explosion that followed, but Bambaataa's entire persona gave the style its signature cultural look and feel. Musically, he injected electronic rhythms and pioneered the deep bass sound that still exists today. His hitmaking career only encompassed a few more releases, including the legendary pairing on "Unity" with James Brown, but there aren't many artists who were as influential as Bam in rock history.
Since they started no new styles, weren't controversial and didn't even represent a niche faction that needs representation, other than the sorely lacking female quotient, they'll probably get zero consideration. But if achievements mattered the Bangles would at least get a look for having four huge hits (two #1's and two more that hit #2) and being, for a five year period at least, as reliable a group of either gender that could be found. Of the female candidates of the 80's they may have a slightly better shot than most, but that's still not saying much.
One of the more eclectic faces of the alt-rock movement whose mainstream breakthrough in 1994 was seen as almost a fluke but which soon led to an uninterrupted run as one of the most consistent stars in the field. A prolific artist who engaged in vastly different sounding projects from one release to the next while remaining critically acclaimed for his experimental nature with multiple Grammy wins to his credit. Though maybe not quite a big enough name to ensure an early induction, he's almost assured of making it in eventually.
A prolific songwriter who penned the classic "Earth Angel", as well as being one of the most versatile vocalists of his era and an influence on almost every west coast rock singer of the 50's. He recorded with so many short lived groups and under multiple aliases, scoring numerous hits along the way, that his work is scattered to the wind, but his signature solo song, "Goodnight My Love", became a rock standard. Belvin died at the age of 26 in a 1960 car crash and remains an almost mythical figure in rock's rise to prominence among other artists.
The pioneers of hardcore punk had to watch as Bad Brains got the style's first nomination for the Hall, but if anyone was deserving for recognition from this field it was Black Flag, who not only were first, but also more popular and influential. Yet the question remains how deserving any artist from such a relatively small area of rock can be and even if their role in its inception is deemed worthy of a nomination the harder part will be convincing the larger voting body of their merits when stacked against far more well known acts from more mainstream styles. While Black Flag definitely deserve credit for adding a new wrinkle to rock's evolution, the credentials that are normally are a prerequisite for being inducted are somewhat lacking due to hardcore punk itself never making a bigger splash.
Mary J. Blige
The most successful solo female rock artist of the 1990's and early 2000's, Blige was vital in making New Jack Swing so omnipresent that it no longer required a subgenre name to define it because it was now among the most dominant sounds of the era. Every one of her 13 albums hit the Top Ten, two of which are widely considered among the greatest LP's ever made, all of this in addition to numerous successful collaborations and an acclaimed film career as an actress. Should be an automatic selection but as we know doing what should be obvious has never been the Hall's forte.
The first solo rapper of note Blow made waves when "The Breaks" became the first 12" record to be certified Gold. While he never equaled that success, he nevertheless followed it up with numerous smaller hits throughout the 80's and paved the way for every individual behind the mic since. He'll definitely have to wait until bigger hip-hop artists get their due, but down the road he'd be deserving of consideration.
There's always been a debate as to how acts without strong U.S. popularity do with the Hall and the answer thus far has been – generally not that well. While the U.K. artists who reach worldwide acclaim have never had any trouble making it, and in fact being British from the 60's has actually helped some borderline candidates get inducted, those from subsequent eras haven't been so fortunate. So Blur is an interesting case study, as they helped define the 90's Britpop scene, scoring thirteen Top Ten hits there, while their biggest U.S. hit, though certainly well known, topped out officially at just 55 on the American Pop Charts. As befits its name, Britpop was a decidedly European taste and thus they don't seem to have much chance in an American-centric institution as the Hall.
Gary "U.S." Bonds
Instigator of what became the frat-house style of rock in the early sixties, he had some classic sides but his success was short lived and won't realistically be enough to get him in. His best shot, ironically, comes from his continuing association with Bruce Springsteen, who is a huge fan and helped Bonds launch a successful comeback in the early 80's, as well as on multiple projects since. The Hall loves Bruce's induction speeches, so maybe that'd be seen as reason enough for some to cast a vote his way.
Boogie Down Productions
More than anyone else KRS-One is responsible for the wave of political rap that changed hip-hop's direction in the mid-80's and BDP's introduction of reggae vibes led to far different sonic textures in the future. Very few MC's hold the respect of their peers over nearly three decades as he does and along with the late Scott LaRock, whose tragic violent death was presaged by their own music warning against such fates, BDP would be a bold, but entirely deserving choice of the Hall seeking to properly define rock 'n' roll's most important artists.
A huge debut and a handful of other big hits along the way, in a style that didn't break any new ground and has the image of one built on bombast to some as it is, probably won't be enough to get them so much as a nomination, leaving hardcore fans convinced the Hall is biased. In truth Boston deserves a look, but not much more. They're like an athlete with one big season that will remain on the books forever, but their full career didn't live up to those early expectations.
Boyz II Men
In the 50's and 60's vocal groups were considered a major cornerstone of rock 'n' roll and the critical acclaim for the style in that specific era remains fairly high to this day. From the 70's onward however the respect for vocal groups from rock's self-appointed gatekeepers plummeted as critics viewed anyone who wasn't playing instruments while singing as being either too lightweight at best, or somehow fraudulent at worst. Yet the vocal group tradition in rock is inarguable and few were more successful at it than Boyz II Men who scored some of the biggest hits ever in the early 90's. Despite their brilliance as singers and a track record of success to be envied they weren't innovators and thus are lacking influence which probably makes it easier for the Hall to dismiss them outright in favor of someone with a guitar in their hand.
Though the group he initially fronted in 1958, The Impressions, made it in long ago, Butler, who went on to have huge solo career, never got in himself, despite over 40 hits to his credit. Often veered between deeper soul, such as the immortal "Only The Strong Survive" and more ornate pop, like his rendition of "Moon River", but the conflicting material didn't keep Bobby Darin out of the Hall. Butler's widely considered to be one of the true class acts in an industry not always known for that, so that image could help.
Groundbreaking vocal harmony group was the first to bring stage choreography to rock 'n' roll, making them one of the most influential artists performance-wise in history. In lead singer Earl "Speedoo" Carroll they had one of the most charismatic frontmen who ever graced a stage and were equally skilled at humorous uptempo songs and romantic ballads. But on the whole vocal harmony groups of the 50's often had fleeting mainstream success, and so unless their biggest hit is still widely known, the chances are slim.
Do you think the members of the Hall Of Fame nominating committee and voting body are even aware such a group exists? Or that they scored 38 hits on the R&B Charts in their careers as one of funk's last self-contained bands of note? Judging by the Hall's lack of respect for even the more prominent members of that vital rock style, it's highly doubtful. If they have heard of them it's likely for their lone Top Ten Pop smash, 1986's "Word Up", which briefly brought them on the radar of even the most funk-deprived.
The blind guitar playing soul star of the late 60's and early 70's has a number of hits and equally well-remembered lesser songs to his credit but takes a back seat in recognition to his contemporaries in most circles. The sexual lothario image he created was a precursor to much of the 70's black music scene but he failed to make pop inroads with it as time wore on. One of the key figures in the Muscle Shoals sound and married to a time to fellow soul star Candi Staton, he remains a decent long shot.
One omnipresent song can sometimes give an outside shot a better chance than otherwise expected but in Chandler's case that song ("Duke Of Earl") actually overshadows a very long, solid career in a much more mature soul style. If he does get considered it will surely be for that one massive record, but his subsequent 30+ hits stretching into the 1980's, including some great songs written by Curtis Mayfield and one transcendent live album, could earn him added support.
The Hall of Fame is always in need of females to acknowledge, which can be hard in a male dominated style of music such as a rock 'n' roll, so here's one that helped kick off the girl group era way back in 1958, who have a respected lead singer in Arlene Smith, and two enduring songs, including the all-time classic "Maybe". They've gotten a nomination already so they're definitely on somebody's radar.
One of the Hall's longest running injustices now sadly will likely never be rectified with Nile Rodgers making the Hall on his own under a separate special designation in 2017, thereby all but taking future nominations for Chic off the table entirely. The Hall voters dislike for disco is well-established yet if one group had the diverse résumé needed to overcome that bias it was them. They had huge hits that defined one of the most dominant rock style's ever, they boasted the greatest rhythm section of any band during their decade in existence, and on top of all that Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards were the most prolific hit songwriters and producers of that era for scores of other artists both in and out of disco. Yet all of that plus their massive influence on EDM in the 21st century couldn't convince the scores of dance-phobic voters to cast a ballot for them. The Hall may think they've taken care of this issue but until Chic gets in as a group it remains a blight on the institution's legitimacy.
Black vocal harmony groups of the 70's still largely have a ways to go in voters minds, as such deserving candidates such as the Dells and O'Jays had to wait multiple years before finally getting the call. The Chi-Lites, despite over 40 R&B Hits to their credit, including a #1 Pop Hit along the way, don't even get the recognition of those two acts, so they might be waiting a long, long time, even with the great Eugene Record in their midst. Vastly underrated today and therefore seriously overlooked by voters so far.
One of the Hall Of Fame's most indefensible exclusions, the Clovers were the first rock vocal group of note, landing an astonishing 15 Top Ten hits in the early to mid-50's. Today they are known almost exclusively for their belated 1959 pop chart hit "Love Potion #9", which gives them the surface appearance of a flash in the pan to those who don't know rock's origins, which sadly might include the voters. In truth, the Clovers set the model that most other vocal groups followed and were the biggest group of their era. A dominant force in rock's evolution.