Divisive as Ever, Rock Hall Reveals 2021 Induction Class

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced it’s 2021 induction class this week with a mixed bag of genres represented by alt-rockers Foo Fighters, rapper Jay Z, pop punkers the Go-Go’s, R&B star Tina Turner, singer/songwriter Carole King and Upper Darby’s own Todd Rundgren all getting the nod as performers.

Also on deck for the ceremony, which takes place in Cleveland Oct. 30, are electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, Delta blues icon Charley Patton and jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron who will receive the Early Influence Award. Guitar legend Randy Rhoads, rapper LL Cool J and session keyboardist Billy Preston will go in under the banner of the Musical Excellence Award. Music executive Clarence Avant, known as “The Black Godfather,” is the recipient of this year’s Ahmet Ertegun Award.

“Holy [expletive]!” blasted Foo Fighters across their social media upon getting the news. “The guitar player from The Germs is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!!!”

The outfit led by Dave Grohl – who will be a two-time inductee, having previously gone in as a member of Nirvana – were referring to guitarist Pat Smear, who played for the influential punk rock act the Germs.

Equally enthused were the Go-Go’s, known for the hits “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” releasing a full-of-emojis statement. “We are so EXCITED to announce that we will be…inducted into the 2021 Rock Hall of Fame!! Women have always been a vital part of the ever-changing music business and we are so proud to have our success story honored and recognized by the Rock Hall and our wonderful fans. Thank you all so much!”

It will be the second time inductions for Turner and King, the former who went in as part of Ike and Tina Turner in 1991 and King, who went in as a songwriter the year before that enters as a performer. Jay-Z goes in on his first year of eligibility, which occurs 25 years after an artist’s first record.

Not everyone was happy about the results, including those getting inducted. Rundgren, who just a few months back told Billboard, “It’s no secret I don’t care about it,” offered a terse statement that said, “I’m happy for my fans. They’ve wanted this for a long time.”

Then there are the nominees who got shut out this year, among them Rage Against the Machine, Iron Maiden, New York Dolls and Devo. It’s led to the usual calls of the Hall not being about rock and roll at all and balking at the continued slights at hard rock, metal and punk. Rock Hall President and CEO Greg Harris addressed the issue in a chat Tuesday with Audacy when he was asked to respond to Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider saying the nominating committee doesn’t respect metal.

“It’s an interesting one, because we do, we celebrate all forms of rock ‘n’ roll,” Harris said. “We nominated Maiden, Judas Priest have been nominated, we put Def Leppard in. Those that are nominated, over 80 percent of them eventually do get inducted. So, it’s really a question of, let’s keep nominating them, let’s get ‘em on the ballot, and let’s get it out to the voting body. Incredible bands, no doubt…This ballot had 16 artists on it. They just can’t all go in.”

A version of this article appears in this week’s print and online editions of my syndicated Rock Music Menu column under the title “Rock Hall 2021 Induction Class Is as Divisive as Ever.”

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