20 More Classic Rockers who aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but should be

A while back I wrote a blog post about musicians who I think deserve to be in the Rock Hall, but aren’t. Things have changed since writing that post, like T Rex finally being inducted and a few inclusions on the list being nominated.

I’ve gotten requests to make another one of these posts and I’ve been meaning to make another one – with emphasis on musicians who never got a single nomination. So without further ado, here’s another 20 artists! Once again, no order besides alphabetical and no ranking. Just appreciating 20 more artists and their contributions to classic rock and music as a whole.

Badfinger

Why? One of the best known artists from Wales. There has never been a Welsh rock band inducted into the Rock Hall. But a few Welsh born members of rock bands based in England and the US have made it in there like John Cale of The Velvet Underground and Roger Glover of Deep Purple.

Would be great to see more Welsh representation at the Rock Hall and who better than Badfinger? They had The Beatles seal of approval and were signed to their label, Apple Records – so much promise early on! People thought they would be the next Beatles with their power pop sound. They had international success with 3 top 10 singles in the US: “Come and Get It”, “No Matter What”, and “Day After Day” and a top 20 with “Baby Blue”. These songs are so catchy and you’ll want to play them on repeat. No doubt did these songs have an influence on the power pop subgenre. Incredibly talented band!

They had one of the most tragic stories in all of classic rock histories and I don’t want them to be forgotten.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: They didn’t get enough success in the US. A few hit singles doesn’t make a band remembered, unfortunately. Boomers remember them better than millennials do.

What you should listen to: Their albums Magic Christian Music, No Dice, and Straight Up

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Blue Oyster Cult

Why? They’re only one of the best known hard rock bands. Don’t tell me you don’t know “Don’t Fear the Reaper” or “Burnin’ For You”! A band that shows you it’s cool to be nerdy with lots of sci-fi references in their music. Metal and hard rock is way underrepresented in the Rock Hall and it’s time for more metal and hard rock representation. It’s time to induct “the thinking man’s heavy metal band”! Needs more cowbell is often referenced and we can’t leave the band that inspired this iconic SNL sketch out of the Rock Hall.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Not enough cowbell? Just kidding! The Rock Hall are more of a popular music hall of fame than rock. Nerdy lyrics aren’t their thing. They think that’s pretentious. And with a thinking man’s metal band reputation, that’s a no-no.

What you should listen to: Their debut album and Agents of Fortune.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Boston

Why? Their 1976 self titled debut defined a decade and is considered an album you have to listen to if you call yourself a classic rock fan, or even a music fan. This is how you make a debut album. If this were Family Feud and you had to come up with iconic albums of the 70s, this is a strong contender. Turn on the classic rock station and there’s a good chance they’re gonna play “More Than a Feeling”, “Peace of Mind”, or “Foreplay/Long Time”. The story behind the band is interesting too. Band founder Tom Scholz went from being an MIT grad working for Polaroid recording demos in his spare time to rock star. Boston were very much a loved live act. They were one of the few rock bands to make a breakthrough and impression in the peak disco years when the dance music genre unseated rock, and that is a feat!

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Arena rock label. Follow up albums weren’t as successful as their first album. It’s surprising that they never got a nomination. Tom Scholz was a perfectionist to a fault and the follow ups were delayed and people don’t have much of an attention span. If they don’t hear from their favourites, they’ll move on.

What you should listen to: Obviously the classic self titled debut. Start to finish it’s amazing.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Budgie

Why? One of the earliest metal bands and best known rock bands from Wales, they were metal pioneers making some of the heaviest music of the early 70s. A lot of comparisons are made between Budgie and Rush because they’re both trios with frontmen/bassists that look similar, but Budgie were first. Not enough people talk about Budgie and this is a problem. Once you hear them, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. If heavy music isn’t your thing, you’ll be happy to know that just like Led Zeppelin, Budgie have their share of softer acoustic tracks that are absolutely beautiful.

Most people’s extent of knowledge of Budgie is that they know it’s a kind of bird and if you’re lucky some people might know that Metallica covered “Breadfan”. Do yourself a favour and listen to the original, it’s better! My guess is the world weren’t ready for Budgie when they released it back in 1973. Ahead of their time and a huge influence on new wave of British heavy metal bands.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: They’re almost completely forgotten even by rock historians. Very little fame in the US if any. Budgie weren’t marketed well enough. Burke Shelley has been suffering from health problems in the past decade as he was trying to make a comeback for Budgie, therefore he can’t tour and promote his music. They deserved better. I’d like to see more of their music on Spotify, that can help bring back popularity. They have little social media presence, if they had more they might have more fans.

What you should listen to: “Breadfan” – easily! It blew my mind when I heard it – that guitar riff. Classic rock stations should add it to their playlists. As for album recommendations, try SquawkNever Turn Your Back on a FriendIn For The Kill!, and the funkier Bandolier.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Focus

Why? Progressive rock band and one of the most famous rock bands to come out of the Netherlands. One thing that is really unique about them is their frontman Thijs Van Leer is a trained flautist and he can yodel – making for a distinct sound. The bizarre “Hocus Pocus”, released in 1971, was an early example of metal and blew people’s minds when it came out – especially when played live when they upped the tempo. Imagine hearing it then… Nothing like it! Years later, it remains fresh in our minds thanks to its use in sporting events, HBO’s Vinyl, and the Edgar Wright film Baby Driver. It’s a good song to drive fast on the motorway to. They have lots of other good songs too, so don’t just stop at the one hit. If you’re into less crazy stuff, don’t worry, most of their music is good jazzy prog rock.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: They’re Dutch. Like I said in the last blog post about the Rock Hall, if you don’t have any popularity in America, it’s as if you don’t exist to the Rock Hall. On top of that if you’re a progressive rock band, they’ll sleep on you. Prog rock bands weren’t the kinds of bands to release singles so it’s going to be harder to get radio play that way. Unfair to pan a whole subgenre of rock, especially the one with some of the most talented musicians.

What you should listen to: Their albums Moving WavesFocus 3, and Hamburger Concerto. I love their instrumentals like “Sylvia”, “Janis”, and “House of the King”.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Gram Parsons

Why? He was a style icon and someone who could combine rock and country music and make country music that rock fans who weren’t into country could enjoy. He was gone too soon, but in the time he was on this planet he made some great music that will live forever.

Why he’s not in the Rock Hall: Probably other country acts that were larger and more influential got in first. The years that he was nominated, he was up against some pretty good acts: Isaac Hayes, Tom Petty, Ramones, Talking Heads, George Harrison, Prince, ZZ Top, and more!

What you should listen to: The Flying Burrito Brothers album The Gilded Palace of Sin. My personal favourite track is “Christine’s Tune”.

# Of Times Nominated: Three times in the noughties: 2002, 2004, and 2005

Grand Funk Railroad

Why? Their songs like “We’re An American Band”, “The Locomotion”, and “Some Kind of Wonderful” are classic rock radio staples. They’ve sold millions of records and sold out concerts. Between 1969 and 1972, seven of their albums did well on the charts without a huge hit single. And they sold out Royal Albert Hall without a hit single in the UK and sold out Shea Stadium in less than 72 hours, apparently faster than The Beatles.

Working class America loved Grand Funk. David Fricke of Rolling Stone said this about Grand Funk: “You cannot talk about rock in the 1970s without talking about Grand Funk Railroad!” Also, we need more Native American representation in the Rock Hall and Mark Farner is ⅛ Cherokee and has been honoured by the Lakota Nation.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Critics don’t like them and the Rock Hall couldn’t care less what fans have to say.

What you should listen to: Songs: “Anybody’s Answer”, “TNUC”, “Into the Sun”, “In Need”, “Paranoid”, “Inside Looking Out”, “Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother”, “Hooked on Love”, and “Closer to Home (I’m Your Captain)”.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

The Guess Who

Why? They were one of Canada’s biggest bands, pre-dating Rush by almost a decade. They had hits back in the 60s and 70s like “No Time”, “No Sugar Tonight”, “These Eyes”, and “American Woman”. They started off as a garage rock band and could do more than that, branching out into hard rock and psychedelic rock. Burton Cummings has a great voice, reminding me of Robert Plant (you can hear the similarity on “American Woman”) or Jim Morrison (I can hear a similarity on “Friends of Mine”) at times. Randy Bachman got his start in this band and after that, he formed Bachman-Turner Overdrive, another band with classic rock radio staples.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: The Guess Who, who? They’re Canadian? I really don’t know, it’s not like they had no success in America – they did with a string of hits from 1969-1971. I’m blaming the quota and Americanocentrism of the Rock Hall.

What you should listen to: Their album, Wheatfield Soul is a good start. “These Eyes” is so beautiful.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Joy Division/New Order

Why? I listed these bands together since New Order were in a way a continuation of Joy Division after the death of Ian Curtis. Although many critics agree to split the two. Either way, these bands deserve a spot and both have good reasons.

Joy Division played an important role in post-punk and goth music and were an influence to U2 and The Cure. Everyone can recognise the album cover of Unknown Pleasures. It’s everywhere and arguably as iconic as Hipgnosis’ DSOTM and Andy Warhol’s The Velvet Underground and Nico covers. They’re a band that you wish you could hear more from.

New Order were excellent in their own right and combined their post-punk and dark Joy Division sound with electronic music, becoming one of the most influential bands of the 80s. Both groups are some of the best known to come out of Manchester.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Joy Division were going to be huge in America, but one of the biggest rock tragedies happened on the eve of their American tour. Ian Curtis took his life.

What you should listen to: 

Joy Division: “Disorder”, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, “She’s Lost Control”, “Atmosphere”, “Isolation”

New Order: “Ceremony”, “Dreams Never End”, “Blue Monday”, “Age of Consent”, “Bizarre Love Triangle”

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Judas Priest

Why? Very influential early metal band and definitely one of the first you’d think of from their era. If you watched Beavis and Butthead, you’ll definitely know “Breaking The Law”! In the beginning they were heavy blues rock and over time evolved their sound. Almost every NWOBHM band will cite Judas Priest as an influence.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Bias against metal bands and the music press didn’t love them. Rolling Stone panned their first three albums, referring to their music as “stolen Zeppelin riffs” and giving them one star. Robert Christgau didn’t like them either.

They were nominated twice, but disappointingly, they were passed over both times.

What you should listen to: Bypass their debut, Rocka Rolla, and start with Sad Wings of Destiny, that’s where they started to find their sound. From this album to 1980’s British Steel, this is their best work. I like “Deceiver”, “Tyrant”, “Island of Domination”, “Sinner”, “Diamonds and Rust”, “Last Rose of Summer”, “Better by You, Better than Me”, “Stained Class”, and “Beyond the Realms of Death”. I would recommend listening to the whole album British Steel.

# Of Times Nominated: Twice, in 2018 and 2020

Kate Bush

Why? A talented musician who got famous at the age of 20 and wrote all her own songs. Her style is experimental art rock with a lot of focus on details, which is why she had gaps of time between albums. She has a distinct and unique voice and could dance. She didn’t tour and lived a reclusive life, yet she had a cult following and a lot of success. She paved the way for so many female musicians. The music videos for “Wuthering Heights” and “Running Up That Hill” are so iconic. She made the music she wanted to make and got praise from the start.

Why she’s not in the Rock Hall: She’s not American.

What you should listen to: The albums The Kick Inside and Hounds of Love are my favourites. If I had to pick between the two, I’d go for Hounds of Love.

# Of Times Nominated: Once, in 2018

The Monkees

Why? They made great songs and showed that they weren’t just a boy band. With their TV show, they pioneered the concept of music videos, pre-dating MTV by 15 years. NBC and management did them dirty by not allowing them more creative freedom, cutting their series short. They were one of the first boy bands and for sure paved the way for those boy bands from the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and today. They were the first rock band created for TV to have a big impact. They really showed that you don’t have to be a bunch of friends in a garage making music to be legitimate. They were no Beatle rip-offs and they were amazing in their own right. Their music brightens your day, quintessential 60s.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Elitism? A lot of people dismiss The Monkees as a boy band and a bunch of pretty faces, but they were more than that.

What you should listen to: Can’t go wrong with the first two albums: The Monkees and More of the Monkees.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Motorhead

Why? Like I’ve said for Judas Priest and Budgie, they’re metal pioneers. Their music was loud, fast, and groundbreaking. Fans may think they were metal, but Lemmy downplayed their heaviness and called it just rock and roll. They mixed early rock and roll, punk, and hard rock and made their own sound, paving the way for speed metal.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Metal and hard rock are criminally ignored by the Rock Hall.

What you should listen to: Ace of Spades!

# Of Times Nominated: Once, 2020

New York Dolls

Why? In the early 70s, they paved the way for punk rock and glam metal. They’re a unique band that combined glam rock, Rolling Stones-style dirty rock, and poppy girl group sounds of the 60s. What’s not to love with all those sounds? They influenced a lot of legendary bands like Kiss, Ramones, Guns n Roses, The Damned, and The Smiths. Even though they only released two albums in the 70s, they had such an impact in music. They were also style icons.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: They got nominated once in 2001, but have since been forgotten about I guess because of the eligibility of bands from the late 70s and 80s. Generally speaking, glam rock isn’t taken seriously by critics.

What you should listen to: Their self-titled debut. My favourite tracks are “Personality Crisis” and “Trash”.

# Of Times Nominated: Once, 2001

Nick Drake

Why? One of the best known musicians to have never been popular in their lifetime, but got the most appreciation after they died. If only he were alive to have seen it. Musicians like Kate Bush and Paul Weller called him an inspiration. He incorporated poetry in his music. Every single album he released, which there were three, is amazing. He is often compared to Van Morrison and his album Astral Weeks.

People know him best for the song and album, Pink Moon. He was another side of the 70s, a decade known for musicians who were larger than life personas. Incredibly talented and deserves an honour like this.

Why he’s not in the Rock Hall: He wasn’t famous while he was alive even though his music is very much loved by rock fans.

What you should listen to: You can’t go wrong with any of his albums, but I like Pink Moon and Bryter Layter.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Oasis

Why? When you think 90s, you think grunge and Britpop. And when Britpop is mentioned, your brain is probably going straight to Oasis. Their sound was a throwback to the Beatles, but it was fresh. The 90s Britpop scene was a lot like the 60s all over again: Oasis vs Blur were like a Beatles vs Stones. Noel and Liam Gallagher had a rivalry like Ray and Dave Davies. Liam has such a good sense of humour and never fails to make me laugh with his sarcasm and sass.

Enough time has passed that we can look at the 90s and realise what were the classics and what is remembered. Oasis for sure are one of those bands that are classics of that time period. They’re one of the best selling bands of all time, selling over 75 million records. They’re definitely an influence on British rock bands of the noughties and today.

Everyone knows “Live Forever”, “Wonderwall”, and “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. Britpop deserves recognition in the Rock Hall and who better to induct first than Oasis?

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: I think it’s not a matter of if, it’s when. I think that when they get in, the Gallaghers will laugh and take the piss out of the Rock Hall.

What you should listen to: Definitely Maybe and What’s The Story Morning Glory in their entirety. These albums are so perfect and you can’t skip a track. Personally I like “Shakermaker”, “Live Forever”, “Columbia”, “Supersonic”, “Cigarettes and Alcohol”, “Hello”, “Roll With It”, “Wonderwall”, “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, “Some Might Say”, “She’s Electric”, and “Champagne Supernova”.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated (but it’s bound to happen soon!)

Slade

Why? One of the best known glam rock bands and an extremely successful with a streak of 17 top 20 hits in the early 70s in the UK. Influenced bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, The Ramones, The Clash, Kiss, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Cheap Trick, and Oasis.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Americanocentrism. I don’t think enough Americans know Slade, and that’s a real shame.

What you should listen to: “Genesis”, “Knocking Nails into My Heart” The Idle Race cover), “Fly Me High” (Moody Blues cover), “Born to Be Wild” (Steppenwolf cover),  “How D’You Ride”, “Gudbuy T’Jane”, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, “Let The Good Times Roll/Feel So Fine” (Shirley Goodman covers), “Cum on Feel The Noize”, “Look Wot You Dun”, “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me”, “Take Me Bak ‘Ome”, “Coz I Luv You”, and “Get Down and Get With It”.

Slade Alive! is an excellent live album from start to finish. I love “Hear Me Calling”, “Know Who You Are”, and “Keep On Rocking”.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Status Quo

Why? A successful band from the UK who got their start as a psychedelic pop group, but turned into a boogie woogie blues/hard rock band in the 70s and excelled at both those sounds – amassing a long string of hits over the years. They were the first band to play Live Aid and their performance was excellent. They have that distinctive shuffle sound about them. They’re a prolific band who have been on Top of the Pops more than any other group and have released 100 singles and 33 albums.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Americanocentrism. They’re way better known in their native country and in Europe than they are in the US. It’s a real shame. Their only chart hit in America is “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and in America pretty much only boomers would know that one.

What you should listen to: Psychedelic era: “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, “Black Veils of Melancholy”, “Ice in the Sun”, “Sunny Cellophane Skies”, “Antique Angelique”, “So Ends Another Life”, “Nothing At All”,

Boogie rock era: “Down the Dustpipe”, “Big Fat Mama”, “Paper Plane”, “Roll Over Lay Down”, “Blue Eyed Lady”, “Caroline”, “Just Take Me”, “Down Down”, “Whatever You Want”.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Uriah Heep

Why? Great band that combined elements of prog rock and metal. From their debut in 1970, their sound was heavy – lots of organs too. Overall, an under appreciated band in the classic rock world. They have range and can play bluesy music and more acoustic sounding songs.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Americanocentrism and Rock Hall has a bias against metal and progressive rock. Also I don’t think the Rock Hall likes bands that write fantasy themed songs.

What you should listen to: “Gypsy”, “Come Away Melinda”, “Lucy Blues”, “Lady in Black”, “High Priestess”, “July Morning”, “Blind Eye”, “Sweet Lorraine”, “The Wizard”, “Easy Livin'”, and “Stealing”.

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Wishbone Ash

Why? They’re a great prog rock band that utilised twin lead guitars to make harmonies and if you know me and my taste in music, you know I love twin lead guitar harmonies. The twin guitar team of Andy Powell and Ted Turner have gotten a lot of praise in music magazines and have been highly ranked and compared to Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck’s work in The Yardbirds.

Why they’re not in the Rock Hall: Americanocentrism and bias against prog rock. They’re not the most popular or best known prog rock band.

What you should listen to: “Blind Eye”, “Lady Whiskey”, “Errors of My Way”, “Vas Dis”, “Valediction”, “Time Was”, “Blowin’ Free”, “The King Will Come”

# Of Times Nominated: Never Nominated

Who else do you think belongs in the Rock Hall? Have your say in the comments section below!

Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!

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