In recent years, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has attracted some negative attention from rock fans. The problem that they have with it is that ‘rock & roll’ in its name does not represent who they’re inducting. Including the likes of Eminem, Jay-Z, Eurythmics, and Dolly Parton while completely ignoring some big and revolutionary names in rock music does seem weird.
In a recent chat with Spin, Duran Duran bassist John Taylor discussed Rock Hall and his understanding of the institution. The band got inducted in 2022, along with several other artists. The band is most commonly associated with new wave and pop rock genres, so some may see “rock & roll” as a bit of a stretch. Taylor offered:
“My understanding of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was, as an institution, it was inaugurated [in the early years] to shed some light on influential, but underappreciated or little-known, artists. And having the benefit of a Zeppelin or the Stones to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to check out this person, because without them, we wouldn’t be here.’ But if that had been [the institution]’s only remit, then it would probably have been over 20 years ago. It had to expand. I think it’s interesting for them.“
“I know [Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation president and CEO] Joel Peresman; I’ve been friends with Joel ever since I came to America. And I know that for them, they’re constantly trying to peel people’s minds back, to see it as more than just that.“
“And, you know, terminology, genres… I mean, it’s such a joke that Duran Duran are in anything with rock and roll over the top of it. Almost everything up until the era that we came along, you could call it rock and roll, because it was free-standing, swing oriented. If you listen to almost anything that was played on guitar and drums in the ’70s, you can hear rock and roll.”
“But after electronics started coming in, and we’re building on these very square bases of electronic pulses, then that’s where people went, ‘That’s not rock and roll.‘ [Laughs] And of course, disco, which was big for us, but—[affects gruff voice] ‘That’s not rock and roll!’“
“And for the first few years, that seemed important. ‘What do you mean we’re not rock and roll?’ you know. [Laughs.] And then I was like, ‘Fine, fine. We’re not rock and roll. Who cares?’ And now, well, now you’re going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Laughs]“
Iron Maiden, Ronnie James Dio, Motörhead, Slayer, Foreigner, Thin Lizzy, MC5 – these are just some of the names that are still not in there. Sure, Judas Priest got a nod with the whole ‘Musical Excellence’ award thing, but they’re still not in there. No disrespect to the incredible artists of various genres who got inducted. But if Motörhead’s not rock & roll enough for an institution called Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, then who is?