My Thoughts Regarding the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

Cody Wagner, Entertainment Writer

The 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have two embarrassing omissions. Out of the 16 acts nominated, only seven were selected based upon votes casted by both professionals in the music industry as well as the public. The list of inductees includes. Tina Turner, Carole King, The Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Todd Rundgren, Kraftwerk, Charlie Patton, Gil Scott – Heron, Billy Preston, LL Cool J, Clarence Avant and Randy Rhodes. Despite this lineup consisting of diverse and unique acts, two big names did not enter the category. Rage Against The Machine(RATM) and Iron Maiden sadly didn’t make the cut, outraging fans and artists alike. The hall once again screwed over rock and roll, making many question its loyalty to the genre.   . 

 Each member currently inducted has provided major contributions to the world of music. Tina Turner’s integration of pop and soul sparked intrigue and amazement to millions as she has become one of music’s most renowned and respected voices. Jay-Z changed the rap game before the names Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar led the genre into the 20th century. His music inspired people to understand the continuing issue of racism alongside diving deep into the rapper lifestyle. Foo Fighters carried the sound and style of what grunge left behind and transformed that sound into alternative. Alongside their frontman, and former Nirvana drummer, Dave Ghrol, the group demonstrated a passion to write, record and create powerful, loud, fast music. However, the idea that Rage and Maiden were snubbed for the position, angers not only me but a majority of music fans around the globe. 

Iconic rock acts such as Motorhead, Judas Priest, Soundgarden, Pat Benetar, etc. have been the center of controversy relating to the hall in prior years. According to the hall’s guidelines, musicians 25 years after the creation of their first album become eligible for the spot of nominee. Maiden qualified for the position in 2004 while RATM qualified in 2017. Fans and artists feel both betrayal and infuriated at this snubbing. Influential names within the world of music are being denied the proper recognition set out from both the music industry and the public. They feel as though the rock hall is deferring from its original intention as they set out to find other acts not associated with the genre of rock music to create a hall that appeals to fans of different music genres. Fans, such as myself, aren’t the only ones pissed off at this. Rock and metal artists such as Corey Taylor, frontman of Slipknot, Maiden’s frontman Bruce Dickinson, and Kiss’s frontman Gene Simmons have all shared their opinion regarding the subject. In May, Taylor did an interview with Andy Hall of stating that the hall disrespected many artists that deserved the shot at recognition while also believing that the hall is “a pile of garbage.” He indicated Slipknot, if offered the opportunity, would not take it because of this controversial and growing issue within the hall’s voting system.

Gene Simmons of Kiss made a post on Twitter the following day stating that “RR Hall of Fame is a sham not to include Maiden.” Following this he also made a comment regarding Rage’s dismissal saying, “Sadly, Rage Against the Machine shut out of RR Hall of Fame. The Hall should be ashamed of themselves…”

 Maiden’s frontman, Bruce Dickinson, made a statement about the hall back in 2018 as the band embarked on their tour at the time. Dickinson stated, “It’s run by a bunch of sanctimonious, bloody Americans who wouldn’t know rock and roll if it hit them in the face. They need to stop taking Prozac and start drinking fucking beer.” This was said even before the band ever got nominated into the position as their frustration elevated with the hall as well. Maiden’s music is the key element that led to the start of the british heavy metal circuit, alongside Motorhead. 

 I remember seeing the band back in 2019 at Tinley for their Legacy of the Beast Tour. They were probably one of the best rock acts I had ever seen in my life besides the Rolling Stones, who played at Wrigley Field that year. The band’s integration of poetry, history, theater and sound is what made them one of metal’s most iconic groups, alongside the founders of the genre Black Sabbath. Their onstage performances introduced props such as revolutionary war apparel, flags, a life-sized costume of their mascot the famous Eddie, and even a B-52 Airplane. 

RATM followed in the footsteps of The Red Hot Chili Peppers in terms of integrating funk into their heavy and energized sound alongside influences of rap. They also are considered to be one of the biggest rock groups whose messages outline the inaccuracies and outrage related to both political and social issues as they have performed at political conventions and rallies advocating for people’s rights, racism. They challenged the controversial and detsructive systems of governing and gave a big fuck you to the people who deserve it most. They connected with people who felt as though their voices weren’t heard, and anyone who has been to a RATM performance knows that once you enter into their world they will stop at nothing to make your voice heard. They are a prime example of music being an emotional tool and outlet for  anyone who is fed up with our political institutions and wants to scream their anger towards those who have corrupted the system and its people. I have never seen the band live, but I wish to next year as they embark on their North America tour. 

 The hall’s CEO Greg Harris spoke to the radio station WBAB via saying, “There’s no doubt that Iron Maiden are an impactful, influential band, and that’s why they were nominated this year, along with 15 other artists and acts, and when the votes came in, these six were the leaders. So we’re not questioning, are they important, are they impactful and influential.” Harris went on to explain that this year’s vote doesn’t mean Iron Maiden or Rage will never get into the hall“ Of those that have been nominated throughout history, over 80% of them have been eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” 

From an honest and factual perspective, there is really no incentive to get enraged at the hall and its members as their system of decisions is based around both professional and public votes that determine overall favoritism and acceptance of an artist. As with a regular voting system the top seven out of sixteen are ultimately decided based upon popularity and favor. One could look at this system to be run by typical music industry tycoons looking to include only today’s biggest hits in terms of shifting the focus of the whole hall to the integration of rap or even pop artists. However the results do stem from the general public as well allowing them to have a right at a decision in the process making the whole scenario feel meaningful in a way knowing that you voted for an artist whose music has earned an honorary focus in one of music’s most treasured celebrations. I understand the hall’s decision to be more diverse and musically expansive in terms of celebrating some of music’s most beloved and treasured artists allowing for a newer and progressive motive. It’s a tough and discerning subject to say the least with many different ways of interpreting reasons behind it. 

But in the end I strongly believe both artists definitely deserved the spot, and I wish that if the hall had the power to overturn or even expand the inductee lineup, then they would include them in the category. Sadly, that’s just not how it’s done. Who am I to say how the hall determines their favored acts and their system of election? Just because it’s the way they conduct the process doesn’t mean I have to like it. I still think that both bands truly got screwed over. This isn’t the musicians’ faults either. They created amazing music, and I congratulate each and every member for their ongoing success in the industry. 

Despite everything I have said, there was a light at the end of this tunnel. Foo Fighters were properly inducted, along with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot guitarist Randy Rhodes, who tragically died in a plane crash in March of 1982 while touring with Ozzy in Florida. I do find it heartwarming, as a metal fan, that they are paying tribute to a fantastic guitarist who shaped the sound of both bands and has become a rock and metal icon for those who know his name and influence. 

With all the controversy and anger towards this decision, all we can hope for as rock,metal, and music fans is that these acts make it to the hall someday. The question is… when?

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