Classic rockers Aerosmith, Steely Dan, and Queen made it in, along with heavily lobbied candidates Ritchie Valens and Johnnie Johnson — but Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and Black Sabbath were spurned by voters choosing the 16th round of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
During a live broadcast today on VH1, Rolling Stone founder and publisher Jann Wenner also announced repeat inductions for Michael Jackson — who made it in 1997 with the Jackson 5 — and Paul Simon — previously honored with ex-partner Art Garfunkel in 1990. Also to be inducted: R&B great Solomon Burke, doo-wop pioneers the Flamingos, and James Burton, who, with Johnson, will be inducted in the Sidemen category.
Island Records founder Chris Blackwell — who exposed the world to Bob Marley and helped build the careers of U2, Steve Winwood, and Melissa Etheridge — will be inducted in the Nonperformer category. No one was chosen in the Early Influence category, which, like the Sidemen category, is decided by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation executive committee and not by voters.
Established last year, the Sidemen category honors unsung musicians who helped shape the sounds of their more famous bandleaders. Burton was Elvis Presley's guitarist, and Johnson — Chuck Berry's pianist — was the subject of "Johnny B. Goode."
The category was created after such artists as Keith Richards and Bonnie Raitt lobbied to get Johnson into the Hall of Fame, which didn't recognize players not formally credited as band members. Johnson is considered the architect of Berry's sound and the likely co-author of most of Berry's music. Ironically, he was not among the category's first five honorees inducted in March. He also recently filed a lawsuit against Berry, seeking songwriting credits and royalties.
Other artists not chosen from among 16 nominees were Bob Seger, AC/DC, Brenda Lee, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the New York Dolls. Several were previously eligible and previously nominated. Aerosmith, Queen, Lee, Reed, and Lynyrd Skynyrd each had one prior nomination; Steely Dan and Valens each had two; Black Sabbath had three; the Flamingos, four; and Burke, eight.
Smith, the Dolls, Seger, and AC/DC were on the final ballot for the first time, though punk priestess Smith was the only one not previously eligible.
Artists become eligible 25 years after their first album release. Simon's Paul Simon and Jackson's Got to Be There were released in 1972, making them eligible as soloists since 1997, but this is the first time they were nominated.
Terry Stewart, president and CEO of Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, says many artists receive multiple nominations before making the cut, adding, "I think that should give hope to those who didn't get in this year."
As for Ozzy Osbourne's declaration that he and heavy metal mates Black Sabbath wanted nothing to do with the Hall of Fame, Stewart doubts that had any bearing on the more than 1,000 voters.
"I voted for them. It didn't really bug me," he says, adding that he didn't think campaigns on behalf of Johnson and Valens meant much to voters.
"Rose petals fall where they may. Their time comes and they get in."
Bob Keane, Valens' producer and owner of Del-Fi Records, said in a statement that he believes Valens' induction is long overdue.
"Ritchie and his song 'La Bamba' are both symbols of what [is] possible to achieve if you believe in yourself, in spite of race, religion, or station in life," Keane said.