It’s been more than 25 years since Jann Wenner completed the machinations which resulted in the creation of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concept that took tangible form in 1995 when the I.M. Pei designed building opened its doors in Cleveland, Ohio. At its inception, the entire concept seemed ripe with possibilities and existed as a truly inspired focal point for acknowledging the musicians that invented, innovated and propelled rock and roll. Initially, the choices for induction hardly needed qualification; the initial class that included Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Little Richard was followed up quickly by classes that brought The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding and The Who into its then-fictional hallowed halls. With artists becoming eligible 25 years from the date of their first release, the ’90s and most of the ’00s saw many classic rock stalwarts like Elton John, The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band receive their rightful acclaim.
For this year’s inductees, the honoring of Guns N’ Roses was essentially and deservedly a foregone conclusion. That GnR’s feting would include bizarre ramblings from Axl Rose was also foreseeable, we just all hoped it would accompany a reunion with Slash and Izzy Stradlin. Amidst the multitude of verbiage that included Rose rejecting his own induction and publicly demanding that no one mention him in conjunction with Guns N’ Roses’ induction except himself, Rose called to task those who hold the Hall in such high esteem by openly pondering the qualifications of the people who serve as the museum’s gatekeepers. While always easy (and fun) to discount Rose’s ramblings, the Botoxed one raised an interesting point: who determines who rocks enough to be in the Hall of Fame?
Surprisingly, Rose’s question isn’t that easy to answer. The Hall itself provides this cryptic explanation:
The Foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of about 1,000 rock experts. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes, and more than 50 percent of the vote, are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.
Missing from the explanation, who’s in the Foundation? Besides David Fricke, who else is qualified to credibly call themself a rock and roll historian? Who are the rock and roll historians that comprise the Foundation? Who is on the international voting body? If there are 1,000 experts, why can’t one be found? There are elements of the Department of Homeland Security that act with more transparency than the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.