13 Artists Who Have Been Snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

By Jamie GreysonLast Updated Mar 16, 2021 12:07:00 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images; Mick Hutson/Redferns; Ian Dickson/Redferns

So, how does a musician get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Let’s just say, it takes time. After all, one of the requirements states that a group or artist must have released their first recording at least 25 years before the first year they’re considered for induction. But sometimes it can take a notable musician or band even longer to receive the recognition.

In the end, qualifying boils down to a nominee’s influence and overall contributions to music at large — or so the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame says. Even though the institution has commemorated a large number of music’s most celebrated legends, other seemingly obvious picks have yet to make it.

This year, nominees include Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Jay-Z, Kate Bush, Tina Turner, DEVO, Iron Maiden, Dionne Warwick, Carole King, Chaka Khan, The Go-Go’s, New York Dolls, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, Todd Rundgren and Mary J. Blige. So, while the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has the chance to right some of these snubs, we’re still rounding up some of the most egregious.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden is now officially on the 2021 ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — and many fans feel the band’s induction can’t come soon enough. Although they’ve been eligible since 2004, the iconic metal band has gone underappreciated by the Hall of Fame, something Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider argues is par for the course when it comes to the metal genre.

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Photo Courtesy: Steve Rapport/Getty Images

Between their studio albums, live records, and compilations, the group has an impressive discography, including classics like Piece of Mind (1983), Powerslave (1984), and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988). With over 100 million worldwide record sales under their belts, there’s plenty of reason to acknowledge Iron Maiden’s contributions to music. Now, we just need the Hall of Fame to agree.

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Tina Turner

You know who deserves a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? The woman who has been dubbed the "Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll." After rising to prominence as the frontwoman of Ike & Tina Turner, the iconic singer launched an ultra-successful solo career. So, technically, Tina Turner was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with her ex-partner Ike Turner back in 1991, but we’d like to see her solo career get some recognition, too.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

After all, Turner launched what Billboard called "one of the greatest comebacks in music history" with her multi-platinum album Private Dancer (1984), which featured her hit "What’s Love Got to Do with It." That song went on to win a Grammy for Record of the Year, became a Hot 100 chart-topper, and made Turner the oldest woman (at just 44 years old) to top the Hot 100. Since then, the legendary artist has sold over 100 million records and earned an impressive 12 Grammys. This year, Turner has a shot at being inducted into the Hall of Fame for a second time — and we’re hoping "It’s Gonna Work Out Fine."

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Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar’s bold stylings helped define the music of the 1980s. Even if someone isn’t familiar with Benatar’s name, they likely know more than one of her hits. In fact, between 1981 and 1984, the rock icon earned four consecutive Grammys for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Crimes of Passion," "Fire and Ice," "Shadows of the Night," and "Love Is a Battlefield."

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Photo Courtesy: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Not to mention that she released two multi-platinum, five platinum and three gold albums. Benatar’s other hit songs, like "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," "Heartbreaker," and "We Belong," showcase 80s rock and roll at its finest. Needless to say, we’ll stand "heartache to heartache" until the Hall of Fame gives Benatar the recognition she deserves.

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A Tribe Called Quest

Since 2004, hip-hop groups have been eligible for the Hall of Fame. Just three years later, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five made history, becoming the first hip-hop group to earn an induction. Since then, hip-hop legends like Run-D.M.C., N.W.A., and 2Pac (Tupac Shakur) have also been welcomed into the Hall’s annals. And, in our humble opinion, inducting A Tribe Called Quest also feels like a no-brainer.

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Pictured: Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Phife Dawg and Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest pose for a portrait session in July 1991 in New York. Photo Courtesy: Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop groups in the genre's history, A Tribe Called Quest blazed trails with their mixture of jazz, rap, and thought-provoking lyrics. In fact, many of their albums, like People's Instinctive Travel and the Path of Rhythm (1990), The Low End Theory (1991), and Midnight Marauders (1993), are still considered hip-hop staples to this day.

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Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth has been eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 2007, though some fear that their biggest strengths may also prove to be what holds them back from induction. It can't be argued that Sonic Youth redefined the landscape of music by pushing boundaries rather than playing within the traditional rules of rock.

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Photo Courtesy: Hayley Madden/Redferns

While the group was wildly influential, especially in the underground and indie scenes, their lack of convention may be why the Hall of Fame hasn’t recognized them with an induction. With 16 studio albums and twice as many compilations, Sonic Youth has undoubtedly created a worthy legacy, but only time will tell if that legacy will be cemented by the folks over in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Kate Bush

And if we only could, we’d make a deal with God — and we’d get Kate Bush inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame already. After all, the artist has been snubbed for the last 18 years. (She was part of the 2018 class of nominees, but to no avail.) But, thankfully, Bush is one of the nominees for the Hall of Fame’s class of 2021. So, why is she so deserving of a spot?

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty Images

Since her fourth studio album, The Dreaming (1982), Bush has produced all of her own work, which means she has been able to execute her artistic vision. This paid off with albums like Hounds of Love (1985), a chart-topper that knocked Madonna’s Like a Virgin from the number-one position and included four iconic singles — "Running Up That Hill," "Cloudbusting," "Hounds of Love," and "The Big Sky." Throughout her career, Bush has been nominated for tons of awards, but, perhaps most importantly, her eclectic, unconventional music and lyrics have inspired both her contemporaries and musicians who’ve followed in her footsteps.

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OutKast

Often regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop duos of all time, OutKast popularized "Southern hip hop," taking cues from funk, jazz and techno music. The duo formed back in 1992 when Atlanta-based rappers André "3000" Benjamin (formerly, Dré) and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton joined forces. While OutKast has only been Hall-of-Fame-eligible for three years, there’s no doubt that they deserve the recognition.

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Pictured: Big Boi and Andre 3000 of OutKast perform during Z100’s Zootopia 2002 Show at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo Courtesy: Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images

While they might have released fewer albums than others on this list, OutKast has grown more and more successful with each release. The duo’s second and third albums, ATLiens (1996) and Aquemini (1998), both went double Platinum, while their next album, 2000’s Stankonia, went quadruple Platinum. In 2003, OutKast reached an even higher level of success when the double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, went 11 times Platinum — and earned a Diamond certification. Combine this fan devotion with six Grammy wins and much critical acclaim and it’s easy to see why OutKast’s legacy deserves Hall of Fame honors.

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Mary J. Blige

Singer, songwriter and rapper Mary J. Blige has sold 50 million albums in the United States alone — and she has an impressive nine Grammy Award wins to her name. Moreover, her 1994 album, My Life, has been ranked among the greatest albums of all time by big-name publications like Rolling Stone and Time.

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Photo Courtesy: Keith Griner/Getty Images

If all these accolades weren’t enough, Billboard dubbed Blige the most successful woman artist working in R&B and hip-hop of the past 25 years, thanks in large part to her hit song "Be Without You," which spent an unparalleled 15 weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. This year, Blige was nominated for the 2021 class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the first time — and we’re keeping our fingers firmly crossed that she becomes one of 2021’s inductees.

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Björk

Perhaps one of the best arguments for including Björk in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is that her music is so hard to pigeonhole into a single genre. The Icelandic artist has blended her pitch-perfect, distinctive voice with musical influences from various genres, including pop, jazz, alternative, and more. With her eccentric style and boundless ingenuity, Björk has no doubt made a lasting mark on the music landscape.

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Photo Courtesy: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Not to mention, the avant-garde art-pop icon has been an unparalleled pioneer when it comes to crafting music videos that blend artistry with boundary-pushing technology. Despite being (arguably) the most famous Icelandic artist in the world, Björk has been remarkably overlooked — and not just by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Despite raking in a staggering 15 Grammy nominations, she's never actually won. Here’s hoping things won’t be "oh so quiet" on the Hall of Fame front next year.

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The B-52’s

The B-52’s are one of those bands that are so delightfully kitschy and quirky that their vibe almost makes us forget just how landmark and influential they were back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The South American group arrived on the (mainstream) scene with their 1979 album The B-52's, which went platinum in both the U.S. and New Zealand.

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Photo Courtesy: Fryderyk Gabowicz/Picture Alliance/Getty Images

With a style that's as eccentric as their music, the B-52’s certainly meet the Hall of Fame’s requirements — especially when it comes to leaving a lasting impression on the industry. The group’s biggest songs, like "Roam" and "Love Shack," remain classic party favorites. Thanks to their fearless approach, the B-52’s remain as beloved as they are respected by fans and music critics the world over.

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The Smiths

Okay, we get it. The Smiths made a bigger splash in the U.K. than they did in the States back in the 1980s. But this pretty much feels like the one-and-only reason the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has excluded them. And it’s a pretty flimsy excuse at that. Sure, the band’s run lasted just six years, but they’re also one of the 80s' most influential rock groups — even if that rock tends toward indie and alternative rock.

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Photo Courtesy: Pete Cronin/Redferns/Getty Images

With hit albums like The Smiths (1984), Meat is Murder (1985), and The Queen is Dead (1986), The Smiths ultimately became "the band that inspired deeper devotion than any British group since The Beatles." They're also widely credited for being instrumental in the Britpop explosion of the ‘90s, with their legacy paving the way for beloved bands like Oasis and the Stone Roses.

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Willie Nelson

As it turns out, several artists have been inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. All the folks you’d expect, from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to Hank Williams, have done it. Missing from their ranks? Willie Nelson.

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Photo Courtesy: Gary Miller/Getty Images

Eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame since 1986, Nelson has released a staggering 95 albums and still rocks as hard at 87 as he did in his younger days. While he may be the king of outlaw country, it’s hard to deny his crossover appeal.

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Brian Eno

Although Brian Eno has described himself as a "non-musician," there’s no denying that this multi-hyphenate — musical artist, record producer, visual artist, and theorist — has left an indelible mark on the music landscape. Most listeners will recognize Eno for his work as a producer, which has led him to collaborate with everyone from Talking Heads and David Bowie to Grace Jones and U2.

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Photo Courtesy: David Warner Ellis/Redferns/Getty Images

But before making a name for himself as a producer, Eno joined glam rock group Roxy Music — a band that helped him earn his first Hall of Fame induction in 2019. Still, he deserves recognition for his (perhaps even more) influential solo career and contributions, which have been snubbed for 22 years. After all, without this multi-Grammy Award-winning artist, we wouldn’t have "ambient music" as we know it today.

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