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The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

on October 09, 2014, 5:00pm
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 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs


Ed. Note: With today’s announcement of the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2015, we’re republishing our list of the Top 20 Worst Rock Hall Snubs. Note this article dates back to 2013 so some of the info might be a little out of date.

Another class has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but with it also comes ten times as many snubs. Here’s a list of 20 surprising artists who have yet to receive enshrinement, accompanied with rankings and our semi-formal arguments. Enjoy and let us know who else you’d like to see get inducted next year.

20. Phish

phish7 e1339614714854 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 1

Number of Albums: 11

Chart Performance: “Free”, the first single to their 1996 album, Billy Breathes, peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart and No. 11 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

Accolades: The band received the Jammys Lifetime Achievement Award on May 7, 2008.

19. Journey


Number of Years Snubbed: 14

Number of Albums: 14

Chart Performance: Journey has sold 47 million albums in the US, making them the 28th best selling band. They’ve sold over 80 million albums across the world. “Don’t Stop Believin'” is the top-selling catalog track in iTunes history with over five million digital copies sold and it’s the best-selling rock song in digital history.

Accolades: The band received a BAMMIES Award for Best Group in 1987, and a Grammy nomination in 1997 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “When You Love A Woman”.

18. Nick Drake

nick drake The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 20

Number of Albums: 3

Chart Performance: His albums sold terribly upon release, but have become essential albums posthumously. His final studio album 1972’s Pink Moon, sits at #321 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time list.

Accolades: Since his early death, he’s been cited as an influence by R.E.M., The Cure, Lucinda Williams, Ben Folds, Badly Drawn Boy, Lou Barlow, Mikael Åkerfeldt, and many more. Pink Moon ranked no. 45 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.

17. Motörhead

motorhead The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 12

Number of Albums: 21

Chart Performance: As of 2012, Motörhead have sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Accolades: In 2005, they picked up their first Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category for their cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash” on Metallic Attack: The Ultimate Tribute. This year they’ll receive the Metal Hammer Golden God Award.

16. Black Flag

 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 8

Number of Albums: 6

Chart Performance: Are you kidding me?

Accolades: No Grammys, of course, but widely considered to be one of the first hardcore punk bands. Black Flag spearheaded innovation in the wake of the first wave of American West Coast punk rock by incorporating heavy metal melodies, free jazz, breakbeat and contemporary classical elements in their sound. The DIY punk movement of the ’80s can be traced back to them, as well.

15. Slayer

slayer The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 6

Number of Albums: 10

Chart Performance: Since their debut in 1983, Slayer has collected six Gold certifications and one multi-platinum certification from the RIAA. Their 2006 album, Christ Illusion, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, their highest U.S. charting position to date.

Accolades: The band has received five Grammy nominations, winning two of them for songs off Christ Illusion. They’re also considered one of the “Big Four” thrash metal bands which also include Rock and Roll Hall of Hall of Famers Metallica in addition to Megadeth and Anthrax.

14. Television


Number of Years Snubbed: 12

Number of Albums: 3

Chart Performance: Not surprisingly, Marquee Moon nor Adventure graced the U.S. charts. However, Marquee did slot at No. 28 on the UK Charts and Adventure even peaked on the same chart at No. 7.

Accolades: Similar to Black Flag, Television have no snazzy awards to their name, though their influence is paramount. Critics contend that Marquee Moon remains a cornerstone of alternative rock as it has experienced a wealth of acclaim. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it as #128 in their 500 greatest albums of all time, and in that same year, NME ranked it as the fourth greatest album of all time.

13. Pixies

 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 2

Number of Albums: 4

Chart Performance: Pretty well for the small Massachusetts outfit, but considerably better overseas. Surfer Rosa spent 60 weeks on the UK Indie Chart, peaking at No. 2. In 2005, a solid 17 years after its release, it was finally certified gold by the RIAA. Its followup, Doolittle, peaked at No. 98 on the US Billboard 200 and at No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart. In 1995, it was certified gold by the RIAA. Bossanova, however, was released on a major label (Elektra) and nabbed No. 70 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart.

Accolades: Both Surfer Rosa and Doolittle are consistently cited as one of the greatest albums of the ’80s and the most important albums in alternative rock, having influenced everyone from Nirvana to Radiohead, The Strokes to Pavement. It should be noted their 2009 box set, Minotaur, received a Grammy nomination. Doolittle ranked no. 14 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.

12. Depeche Mode


Number of Years Snubbed: 8

Number of Albums: 13

Chart Performance: Depeche Mode have had 49 songs in the UK Singles Chart and 13 top 10 albums in the UK charts, two of which debuted at No. 1. They’ve also gone on to sell over 100 million albums and singles worldwide.

Accolades: The band has won eight out of the 28 nominations they’ve received. Although they’ve never won a Grammy, they have received five nominations. They did bring home Q Magazine‘s first-ever “Innovation Award” and “Enjoy the Silence” nabbed them “Best British Single” at the 1991 Brit Awards.

11. Iron Maiden

 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 9

Number of Albums: 15

Chart Performance: With little radio or television support, Iron Maiden have sold over 85 million records worldwide. And yet regardless of line up shifts, several of their albums have received platinum and gold albums both stateside and overseas, specifically 1982’s The Number of the Beast, 1983’s Piece of Mind, 1984’s Powerslave, 1985’s live release Live After Death, 1986’s Somewhere in Time, and 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

Accolades: As of October 2013, the band have played over 2,000 live shows throughout their career. In 2002, they received the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement, and in 2005, were also inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA.

10. Roxy Music

roxymusic The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 17

Number of Albums: 8

Chart Performance: Their eighth and final album Avalon spent three weeks at No. 1 in the UK and stayed on the album charts for over a year to go Platinum. Their first six albums went Gold in the UK and their seventh, Fresh and Blood, went Platinum. And while Avalon only peaked at No. 53 stateside, it did go on to become the band’s only platinum record in the US.

Accolades: No awards, but their trademark style and well-crafted look became a signature facade of the glam movement. They also went on to influence The Sex Pistols, The Cars, Kate Bush, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Men Without Hats, Nile Rodgers, Annie Lennox, Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

9. Sonic Youth

sonic youth

Number of Years Snubbed: 6

Number of Albums: 16

Chart Performance: Their final album, 2009’s The Eternal, peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 and was the band’s highest charting album of their career. However, it did clock in at No. 01 on the US Billboard Tastemakers Albums.

Accolades: In 2009, they won an Innovation in Sound award at the Q Awards. Outside of that, however, zilch — which is quite depressing given their jaw-dropping legacy of 16 studio albums, seven extended plays, three compilation albums, seven video releases, 21 singles, 46 music videos, and eight releases in the Sonic Youth Recordings series. To date, their legacy has redefined the way critics and musicians look at music altogether, having influenced the alternative and art house scenes for decades. Daydream Nation ranked no. 51 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.

8. Björk

Bjork Mutual Core

Number of Years Snubbed: 12

Number of Albums: 7 studio albums, 2 soundtracks, and 4 remix albums

Chart Performance: According to her label, One Little Indian, by 2003 she had already sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. Her 2007 album, Volta, spent nine weeks at number one on Billboard’s Top Electronic Albums chart and in the first three months of release sold over half a million copies worldwide.

Accolades: Björk has received four awards from both the BRIT Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards. Although she’s received 13 nominations from the Grammy Awards, she’s never received one. (Fun fact: She was nominated every year from 1996 to 2002.) Her 2000 song, “I’ve Seen It All”, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture. Altogether, Björk has received 90 awards from 212 nominations.

7. Devo

devo 2012

Number of Years Snubbed: 11

Number of Albums: 9

Chart Performance: Their critically-acclaimed debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!  reached No. 12 in the UK and No. 78 in the US. However, its 1980 followup Freedom of Choice went Platinum in the US and Gold in Canada, making it their highest selling album. 1981’s New Traditionalists and 2010’s Something for Everybody peaked at No. 23 and No. 30 on U.S. charts, respectively.

Accolades: Their cult acclaim has only awarded them the first-ever Moog Innovator Award, which they received in 2010 at Moogfest in Asheville, NC. What’s integral about Devo is their pioneering sound and style, which impacted New Wave, industrial, and alternative in addition to how music videos could be conceived. Duty Now For the Future ranked no. 66 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.

6. New Order

neworder1983 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 8

Number of Albums: 9

Chart Performance: Of their 48 total releases — including LPs, EPs, and singles — they’ve had 389 chart appearances, two number one albums, seven top 10 singles, 10 top 10 albums, 27 Top 40 singles, and 13 top 40 albums. Four of their studio albums have been certified Gold in either the US, UK, or Canada while two of their compilations have gone Platinum.

Accolades: Chart success aside, they’ve only been nominated once by the Grammys, and it wasn’t until 2005, and it was a small nomination at that (i.e. Best Dance Recording for “Guilt Is a Useless Emotion” off Waiting for the Siren’s Call). Still, the outfit’s one of the most critically-acclaimed and influential acts of the last 30 years, changing the face of techno, rock, and pop forever.

5. Nick Cave

 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 5

Number of Albums: 15 studio albums (with the Bad Seeds), three live albums (with the Bad Seeds), 13 scores/soundtracks, and 1 spoken-word lecture

Chart Performance: Until this year, Cave’s highest-charting album in his 35-plus-year career was 2008’s Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, which debuted and peaked at No. 64 with 10,000 copies sold in the US. However, this past February’s Push the Sky Away finally cracked the Top 30, peaking at No. 29 with 15,000 copies sold in the US and giving Cave his best selling album to date at the ripe age of 55. Worldwide, the album would hit No. 1 in the UK, Sweden, and Cave’s home country of Australia, his first such accomplishment.

Accolades: Cave has won several ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards, most notably for best album (2004’s Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and Dig Lazarus Dig!!!) and as a 2007 inductee into the ARIA Hall of Fame. He also once requested his 1996 MTV Europe Music Awards nomination for “Best Male Arist” be withdrawn over concerns of the award’s “competitive nature.”

4. Kate Bush

kate bush feat

Number of Years Snubbed: 11

Number of Albums: 10

Chart Performance: Bush is one of the UK’s most successful solo female performers of the last 35 year. At the age of 19, she became the first woman to have a self-written UK No. 1 song with “Wuthering Heights”, which spent four weeks atop the UK Singles Chart. Since then, three of her 10 albums have topped the UK Albums Chart, 25 singles have hit the UK Top 40, which include six Top 10 hits.

Accolades: Her three Grammy nominations are trumped by her 1987 Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist, her 2002 Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, and the fact that Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2013. Bottom line: She’s good enough for Cleveland. Hounds of Love ranked no. 17 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.

3. The Smiths


Number of Years Snubbed: 5

Number of Albums: 4

Chart Performance: Since the inception of SoundScan back in 1992, The Smiths have sold over 2.7 million copies in the US. Two of the band’s albums, 1986’s The Queen Is Dead and 1987’s Strangeways, Here We Come, each went gold in the US, with Queen peaking at No. 70 on the Billboard 200 chart and garnering an impressive 17-week run.

Accolades: Without netting much in the way of Grammys or similar industry nods (sans a few NME awards), the band is often cited as a pioneer of the subsequent Britpop explosion, influencing bands like Oasis, the Stone Roses, and more. The BBC once called The Smiths “the band that inspired deeper devotion than any British group since The Beatles.” The Smiths ranked no. 69 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.

2. Joy Division

joy division shot e1353427600845 The 20 Worst Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs

Number of Years Snubbed: 10

Number of Albums: 2

Chart Performance: Their 1979 debut, Unknown Pleasures, had no singles and didn’t chart. Their 1980 followup, Closer, reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and peaked at No. 3 in New Zealand by September 1981. In the time that’s passed since Ian Curtis’ tragic early death, the Manchester outfit has grown from a cult act to one of the most important bands in modern music.

Accolades: The band’s inclusion here is strictly by their legacy. Both of their albums are critical diamonds, capturing the band’s trademark and unprecedented post-punk that continues to go unrivaled. In their short four-year time span, they became auteurs of what would go down as goth rock — in fact, Closer was the first album to be reviewed under that genre title — and went on to influence other icons such as Bono and Robert Smith. As the U2 frontman wrote in the band’s autobiography, “It would be harder to find a darker place in music than Joy Division. Their name, their lyrics and their singer were as big a black cloud as you could find in the sky. With Joy Division, you felt from this singer, beauty was truth and truth was beauty, and theirs was a search for both.” What’s more, Unknown Pleasures ranked no. 15 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.

1. Whitney Houston

whitney houston feat

Number of Years Snubbed: 4

Number of Albums: 6

Chart Performance: Where to start? How about these two factotums: Houston is the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits and the only female artist to have two No. 1 Billboard 200 Album awards on the Billboard magazine year-end charts. Not enough? How about how her 1985 self-titled debut became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release? Or how her landmark hit, “I Will Always Love You”, went on to become the best-selling single by a female artist in music history? No? Let’s keep going: Did you know The Bodyguard is the fourth best-selling album of all-time, which makes her makes her the top female act in its top 10? The triumphs keep going; in fact, her later soundtrack to The Preacher’s Wife remains the best-selling gospel album of all time. Small potatoes in a mound of them.

Accolades: Too many to list, so thank god one sentence says it all: In 2009, Guinness Book of World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time. Grammys? Check. American Music Awards? Check. Billboard Music Awards? Check. Emmys? Check. RIAA Certifications? Get out of here.

Lesson learned? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have a lot of nominations left to give, and they really, really, really ought to start with the late Ms. Houston.

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