Established in 1983 by Atlantic Records chairman Ahmet Ertegun, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to celebrating the artists/bands, producers, engineers, and other important figures that helped shape rock and roll as we know it. The museum has been located in Cleveland, Ohio since 1995. They have many exhibits, some permanent and some not. One notable feature is a list of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, tracing songs from as far back as the 1800s to the present day that have had a significant impact on rock history.
Every year, the Hall inducts six to twelve bands and artists that have helped shape rock and roll. It has to have been at least twenty-five years since their first album for them to qualify. Their genres don't specifically have to be rock, per se: the Hall has inducted performers from the worlds of country, pop, reggae, disco, hip-hop, and R&B/soul over the years. Special awards are also given to non-performers, the Award for Musical Excellence (formerly the Sideman Award, so named for people best associated with performing with other bands and artists), and early influences (such as Robert Johnson and Billie Holiday, whose music is closely associated with the roots of rock and roll). The first group of inductees in 1986 included Elvis Presley, Little Richard, James Brown, The Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The ceremonies are famous for the final "Superjam," in which inductees, presenters, and special guests all perform a song or medley of songs together.
The Hall has not been safe from controversy. Many band members and artists (those who aren't already dead, anyway) have refused to attend the ceremony over the years. In one case, an entire band boycotted their induction (see their page's quote). Tensions often rise when band members who left the group (or the entire group, if they're reunited) have to speak with the other members (such as Blondie - geez, 2006 was an intense year for the Hall). The Hall has also been criticized for overlooking certain genres and subgenres - particularly metal, with Black Sabbath note and Metallica note currently being the only metal bands in the Hall. The Hall has also been accused of favoritism and sexism over the years.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees:
Hail, hail, rock and tropes:
- Absentee Actor: Many an inductee has missed the ceremony either due to a previous engagement, refusing to attend for some personal reason, or the cold, icy hand of death. Some notable inductees who missed the ceremony include Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses (though, as Chris Rock pointed out, even if he had decided to attend, would he have been there by then?), Paul McCartney of The Beatles (though he later showed up at each of the Beatles' solo inductions - including his own), Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead (The rest of the band brought along a cardboard cut-out of him instead), all of the surviving members of Sex Pistols (They wrote a letter decrying the Hall of Fame, which was read at the ceremony by Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner), Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys (Who was battling the cancer that would take his life shortly after the ceremony; He wrote a letter, which was reach by the other two members of the band at the ceremony), and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits.
- All-Star Cast: The ceremonies tend to get this way, what with their uniting of musicians past and present to speak and jam.
- Alternative Rock: Although artists who influenced or later moved into alternative music were inducted before 2007 (like The Velvet Underground or Talking Heads), that year's induction of R.E.M. marked the first time the genre was recognized. They've been followed by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Green Day, Pearl Jam, The Cure, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails
- Anonymous Band: Some variants (such as Chicago and Pink Floyd) have been inducted, but never a straight example.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Whenever bands reunite for one more performance and get into the swing of things immediately, such as Talking Heads (their last performance together to this day) and The Police (who went on a reunion tour not long after).
- The Band Minus the Face: Some bands are inducted without their frontman/woman present, in some cases due to the bandleader's death (i.e. Freddie Mercury of Queen) or their just choosing not to attend (i.e. Axl Rose, Jerry Garcia, Thom Yorke, and Mark Knopfler).
- Cloud Cuckoolander: YMMV on each individual inductee, but special mention goes to Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose section of their induction speech was just him saying "Blah-blah-blah" with various inflections.
- Early-Bird Cameo: When bands/artists perform or give an induction speech prior to being inducted themselves. Dave Grohl performed in honor of Rush in 2013, then was inducted as a member of Nirvana in 2014. That year, Joan Jett joined the surviving Nirvana members for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Grohl even questioned during the performance how she hadn't been inducted yet); she and the Blackhearts would be inducted the following year (Grohl performed "Cherry Bomb" with them).
- The members of Green Day performed when the Ramones were inducted in 2002 and helped induct the Stooges in 2010 and Guns N' Roses in 2012. They were inducted themselves in 2015.
- Madonna accepted David Bowie's award on his behalf prior to her induction in 2008.
- Prince inducted Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997 prior to being inducted in 2004.
- Bruce Springsteen inducted several artists (including Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, all of whom he acknowledged in his own induction speech) prior to being inducted in 1999.
- Trent Reznor inducted The Cure in 2019 and was inducted with the Nine Inch Nails the very next year.
- Epic Rocking: Too many examples to name from the Super Jams, but special mention goes to Prince's guitar solo during "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
- Funk: Genre of choice for inductees Parliament-Funkadelic, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder (for the most part), Prince (ditto), and Isaac Hayes.
- Gangsta Rap: Two masters and archetypes of this genre, N.W.A. and Tupac, have been inducted.
- Grunge: 2014 inductees Nirvana and 2017 inductees Pearl Jam.
- Jazz: Most jazz musicians who receive recognition from the Hall are regarded as Early Influences; only Miles Davis, Etta James, and Nina Simone - whose rise was contemporaneous to rock's as a whole - are proper inductees.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Legends honoring legends, whether it's the famous band/artist inducting another (Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins inducting Rush, Eminem inducting RunD.M.C., etc.) or the reaction of the inductee to the notable musician(s) inducting them (Billy Joel, who was inducted by his idol Ray Charles).
- Long-Runner Line-up: The Hall usually inducts all the members of the original line-up and, if the band is still around but has different members, the current line-up. Sometimes, they mix and match: members of Red Hot Chili Peppers who were inducted included Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer (the current line-up), plus former members John Frusciante (who didn't attend), Jack Irons, Cliff Martinez, and the late Hillel Slovak. Dave Navarro and Jack Sherman were not included (Kiedis explained that Navarro would be better served being inducted alongside 2017 nominees Jane's Addiction).
- Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: The final jam.
- Missing Episode: The 2020 inductions was cancelled due for the COVID-2019 outbreak, instead replaced with a TV special aired on HBO.
- New Wave Music: Talking Heads, Pretenders, the Police, Elvis Costello (and The Attractions), Blondie, and Depeche Mode in particular.
- No-Hit Wonder: Many inductees are more popular among musicians and industry people than the general public.
- Older Than They Look: Some might be surprised that bands like Nirvana and Green Day were able to meet the 25-year minimum upon their induction, given that their first well-known albums (Nevermind and Dookie, respectively) were released in the early/mid-nineties. Nirvana's debut single was released in 1988 and Green Day's 1,000 Hours EP was released in 1989. note
- One-Hit Wonder: Not too many of them in the Hall. Some musicians are technically one-hit wonders by Billboard standards (Jimi Hendrix only charted with "All Along the Watchtower" and Frank Zappa with "Valley Girl"), but the only inductee that you can basically say was inducted only on the basis of one song was Percy Sledge. Despite his long career, you'd be lying if you said they were thinking of anything other than "When a Man Loves a Woman."
- Political Rap: The most famous political rap group of them all, Public Enemy, was inducted in 2013.
- Pop: Many nominees can be considered more pop than rock. Some pop-oriented inductees include Madonna, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Michael Jackson (and his former group The Jackson 5), and Prince.
- Progressive Rock: Inductees Rush, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, Electric Light Orchestra, and Yes all contributed to Prog-Rock to various degrees. (Most, especially Fleetwood Mac and Genesis, eventually went pop).
- Real Men Love Jesus: Or some variant thereof - many inductees take the time to thank their idea of God while they're at the podium (such as The Temptations or Solomon Burke).
- Revolving Door Band: Kiss and Journey are good examples.
- Rock & Roll: Naturally, many inductees come from this era of music. Just look at the first year's inductees.
- Short-Lived Big Impact: Can apply to bands and inductees that either didn't last very long or died young. Ritchie Valens, who was inducted posthumously, died at only 17.
- Supergroup: Unless you count the Super Jams, the only proper supergroup to be inducted was Cream.
- Younger Than They Look: At the time of his induction in 1989, Stevie Wonder was only 38, making him the youngest living person inducted into the Hall at the time. He was later unseated by Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who was 32 at the time of his induction. Klinghoffer was later tied by Nine Inch Nails drummer Ilan Rubin, who was also 32 when he was inducted in 2020 and is the first musician to be inducted who is younger than the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame itself.