Being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be a major event for any musician or band but the nomination and induction process over the past two decades has been anything but consistent and it has severely damaged the credibility of the actual institution in the eyes of both the fans and the artists it claims to represent. This year’s oversights are being brought to light by KISS frontman Paul Stanley as he publically blasted the HoF for only inducting the original lineup of KISS instead of all of the band members that have represented KISS over the years. Drummer Peter Criss left the band in 1980 and lead guitarist Ace Frehley left in ’82 but the band continued to put out new music that sold millions with other members, specifically Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Another major issue this year is leaving out original Nirvana member Chad Channing who actually played on the original recordings.
Paul Stanley has a legitimate beef. Multiple members of the Grateful Dead were inducted to the HoF. When the Eagles were inducted the original lineup of Henley,Fry, Misner and Leadon were there as well as members added along the way like Felder, Walsh and Schmit. The Chili Peppers and Metallica have also had several of its members inducted. The way the HoF is treating Kiss over these other bands recently inducted smacks of nepotism as RHCP and Metallica share the same manager (Cliff Burnstein) who is also on the HoF nomination committee.
When you start to compare you can find all sorts of discrepancies and you’ll find that most of it stems from a lack of objective criterion or certain benchmarks that can be measured i.e. Record sales, tour sales or dates etc. The Hall of Fame system in the arena of sports does a better job with this. For example, pitchers in baseball with more that 300 wins or a hockey player with multiple 50-goal seasons. These are undeniable stats that allow you to compare them to their peers and evaluate their worth to the sport. Of course, there’s still debate, but it’s a much more fair system than a few rich music executives running their own private club.
The Rock and Roll HoF needs to exist because it keeps the history of music alive. It should also be noted that it’s not just about the music; it’s also about the cultural and social impact the music and artists had on society but unfortunately without credibility, these qualities will be overlooked. The nomination committee needs to begin setting proper benchmarks that, if hit, virtually guarantees a band’s induction. Once you have a standard in place the nomination process and actual institution will gain credibility and become the true and recognized keeper of the Rock and Roll flame. Until then, the Rock and Roll HoF will just be some rich guy’s music museum.