In what’s become an annual ritual since the Replacements first became eligible in 2006, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame declined to induct the seminal Minneapolis band. This year, for the first time, the ‘Mats were at least included on the ballot sent to voters by a Hall of Fame nominating committee—but when the votes were counted, the Let It Be band didn’t make the cut. It’s hard to argue with voters’ decision to induct Nirvana this year, but other inductees are more arguable…so let’s argue. If we could bump an act—either a present or past inductee—to make room for Paul and Tommy and Bob and Chris, here are some acts that might be considered.
Donovan (2012 inductee). It took the Hall a long time to finally decide to induct this top-ten troubadour, and there’s a reason for that. The most notorious of the would-be Dylans, Donovan suffered a public takedown by Dylan himself, who is seen in the documentary Don’t Look Back destroying the British singer-songwriter in an impromptu battle of the folkies at a U.K. house party. Donovan looks better when his trippy output is considered on its own merits, but still, he’s clearly a marginal choice for the Hall of Fame.
Billy Joel (1999 inductee). Like a lot of kids, I thought Billy Joel was awesome. Our super-cool aunt Betsy would come over and put An Innocent Man on the turntable, and my siblings and I would all jump around and dance. As I grew up and learned more about Joel’s musical influences, the Piano Man started to seem a little watered-down. I asked my aunt about it, since I still regarded her taste as unimpeachable. “Oh yeah,” she admitted. “I just played that stuff because you guys liked it. I think Billy Joel is a wimp.”
John Mellencamp (2008 inductee). Speaking of watered-down, this quintessential “heartland rocker” has a few indelible singles, but if the Hall is going to induct Bruce Springsteen and—in a separate induction, this year—the E Street Band, does Johnny Cougar really need to be in there too?
Andrew Loog Oldham (2014 inductee). Sure, he has a cool name…still, his main claim to (the Rock and Roll Hall of) fame was being the Rolling Stones’ manager. He produced the Stones’ early records, but as a production ingenue, his contributions were nowhere near on the level of, say, worthy inductee George Martin’s contributions to the Beatles’ records. Oldham’s relationship with the Stones didn’t last much beyond the Summer of Love, and while he’s remained active in various aspects of the music industry, Oldham hasn’t done anything especially notable since the 60s.
Red Hot Chili Peppers (2012 inductees). Sorry not sorry, but Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the musical equivalent of an hourlong wet willy. Of course, that’s just my opinion—but even if you’re into that sort of thing, there’s a certain LOL factor here.
Linda Ronstadt (2014 inductee). As an interpreter and collaborator, Ronstadt has been a standby of the pop and country music scenes for 35 years. Still, do her artistic contributions merit inclusion in the Hall over the Replacements—or the Meters, or Chic? Discuss.
Rush (2013 inductees). The Nick Andopolises of the world are going to howl at me for putting Rush on this list, but despite the Canadian crushers’ vast following, the section of the record store where Rush’s influence might be most clearly heard is in the hard rock cutout bin.
Cat Stevens (2014 inductee). If Stevens actually shows up at the induction ceremony, Ali Lozoff pointed out, he’d better give a shout-out to Wes Anderson.
Jann S. Wenner (2004 inductee). This just looks bad, given that the Rolling Stone publisher was a co-founder of the Hall of Fame and has endured persistent criticism of his role in the organization. Does Wenner’s ego really need this?
ZZ Top (2004 inductees). Listen, I love me some “Sleeping Bag” as much as the next guy, but…c’mon.