Open Letter to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Induct These Hard Rock + Metal Acts ASAP
Dear Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
For the second year in a row, you nominated, but ultimately denied induction to Deep Purple. Fans of the legendary hard rock / heavy metal act were disappointed by the snub last year, but as Deep Purple were once again passed over for the 2014 ceremony, the Internet has blown up with serious vitriol against your Hall of Fame.
In an online fan poll set up by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, your institution invited music fans to weigh in with their opinions on who deserves an induction. With a total of 1,390,504 votes cast, Deep Purple came in third place out of 16 total choices. The only acts to beat Deep Purple in the poll were Kiss and Nirvana, both of whom will be inducted during the 2014 Rock Hall ceremony. Deep Purple also collected more votes than Class of 2014 inductees Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens, so it’s easy to see why fans are upset. In cases such as this, fans feel like their voices aren’t being heard.
Deep Purple aren’t the only heavy band that has been given the Rock Hall snub. While we applaud the recent inductions of Black Sabbath, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses, many of music’s most legendary heavy acts haven’t even received a nomination yet, despite being eligible for several years. (An act is eligible 25 years after their first significant release.) Along with Deep Purple, we’ve put together an argument for five other heavy acts that we feel should have already been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Widely known as one of heavy metal’s most powerful pioneers, many believe the genre wouldn’t exist as we know it if not for Deep Purple. The celebrated English group has released 19 studio albums, along with a boatload of compilations and live releases, and since ‘Shades of Deep Purple’ was unleashed in 1968, the band has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Deep Purple, who have mastered the art of the live show and toured harder than perhaps any hard rock band in history, was even named “the globe’s loudest band” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1975.
The list of anthems penned by Deep Purple seems never-ending. Riff-heavy tracks such as ‘Smoke on the Water,’ ‘Highway Star,’ ‘Into the Fire’ and ‘Burn’ have undoubtedly stood the test of time, becoming engraved in the very foundation of the hard rock and heavy metal genres. After decades of massive success and critical acclaim, how could a band that has consisted of musicians the caliber of Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Jon Lord not be immortalized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Deep Purple have nothing left to prove.
Long before singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith returned to Iron Maiden in 1999, the band had become a heavy metal staple, accumulating a flawless discography during the 1980s. Each record from ‘Iron Maiden’ to ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ are essential albums which are still spoken about in the highest regard from fellow musicians, critics and metalheads of all ages. All the way up to 2010’s ‘The Final Frontier,’ Iron Maiden have continued to craft epic recordings, never having to rely strictly on the past to continue their career.
Additionally, Iron Maiden’s lineup boasts the great Steve Harris, who is possibly heavy metal’s most prolific songwriter. Long after developing his signature galloping bass technique, no musician has elevated the bass guitar’s role in metal quite like Harris. Bruce Dickinson is also widely regarded as one of metal’s all-time greatest vocalists, while the triple guitar attack of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers provides a unique dynamic that has never been outdone. Of course, the contributions of Nicko McBrain and the late Clive Burr aren’t to be ignored.
As for the numbers, Iron Maiden have sold over 85 million albums worldwide, putting them into an elite category shared by less than a dozen acts considered to be heavy metal. Known as perhaps the greatest live band in the world, Iron Maiden show no signs of decline in their skills and continue to pack giant audiences into arenas worldwide. Although Iron Maiden have been eligible for induction since 2005, they have never been nominated.
After a hardcore fan carves your band name into their skin, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination shouldn’t be far away. Maybe that’s just our own twisted opinion, but the darkened thrash attack of Slayer turned them into the world’s heaviest band during the early ’80s. The hellish soundscape created by albums such as ‘Hell Awaits’ and ‘Reign in Blood’ still holds up as sonically brilliant and terrifying to this day, leaving fans wondering how exactly Slayer were able to book studio time in the ninth circle of Hell.
Having stood the test of time, the work of Slayer became immortal immediately as gems such as ‘Angel of Death,’ ‘Raining Blood,’ ‘South of Heaven’ and ‘War Ensemble’ were unleashed. Each classic member of Slayer showcases a unique style, from the spastic guitar assault of Kerry King and the late Jeff Hanneman to Dave Lombardo‘s uncompromising drum attack and frontman Tom Araya‘s banshee yell.
Interestingly enough, the number of albums sold by Slayer isn’t well known, although the band has four gold albums in the U.S. In total, the ballpark estimate for Slayer’s album sales is nearly 30 million worldwide. As for accolades, Slayer have been nominated for five Grammy Awards, winning back-to-back years for Best Metal Performance in 2007 and 2008.
Finally, there would be no greater honor to bestow upon the late Jeff Hanneman than an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Like few others, Hanneman possessed an “always imitated, never replicated” frantic style of playing while penning dozens of metal classics. Hanneman stands out as one of metal’s elite. Tom Araya himself stated that Jeff was “90 or 95-percent of the band,” so to us, an induction is not just necessary, but mandatory.
Before addressing the music of Motorhead, let’s talk about frontman Lemmy Kilmister, who brings a no-holds-barred, chainsaw approach to his bass playing. The dirty feel of his bass is surpassed only by his gravel-churning voice, which is unmistakably unique. Plus, when your nickname is “God,” it isn’t too much to ask for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to take notice.
Perhaps heavy metal’s greatest three-piece, Motorhead also employ the talents of guitarist Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee, both of whom demand admiration for technical skill, songwriting prowess and diamond-tight musicianship. Motorhead have sold over 30 million albums worldwide in nearly four decades and picked up the Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 2005.
With 21 albums under their belt and legions of fans who respect Motorhead in a truly unique way, Britain’s loudest trio would be amongst good company in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but although Motorhead have been eligible for induction since 2002, they have yet to receive the call.
Speaking of gods, let’s address the undisputed ‘Metal God’ in Judas Priest‘s Rob Halford. How do you describe a voice that soars above arenas and can take any definable shape? Out of every voice in metal history, Rob Halford truly is the human Swiss Army Knife. Halford’s incredible range, both in range and style, can be famously heard in tracks such as ‘Victim of Changes,’ ‘The Sentinel’ and ‘Painkiller.’
Not to overlook Priest’s instrumental section, led by guitarist Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing. The duo brought a level of technicality to heavy metal never quite heard before, penning riffs of Zeppelin-like proportions while shredding magnificent solos, developing a pop sensibility and discovering alien ways to play an electric guitar. Throw bassist Ian Hill and a line of accomplished drummers into the mix and you’ve got a band more than worthy of induction.
Judas Priest have actually been eligible for a Rock Hall induction since 1999, but in 15 consecutive years of voting, Judas Priest have never once been considered. Despite this, Priest have sold over 50 million albums and have been given five Grammy nods, winning Best Metal Performance in 2010 for a live version of ‘Dissident Aggressor.’
Ronnie James Dio:
In can be argued that there is no greater Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snub than that of the late Ronnie James Dio. The career of Dio is strictly unparalleled, as no singer in heavy metal history has accumulated more career achievements as Mr. Ronald James Padavona.
Dio’s career went non-stop from 1957 to his tragic death in 2010. After beginning with Ronnie Dio and the Prophets, Elf and other acts, the singer got his first big break by forming Rainbow with Deep Purple icon Ritchie Blackmore. From 1975 – 1979, Dio recorded three brilliant albums, ‘Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow,’ ‘Rising’ and ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ with Rainbow before replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath.
Ronnie filled the position of possibly the most irreplaceable singer in metal at the time, but not only did Dio succeed in his quest, he brought new life to Black Sabbath, propelling the band into a renaissance. After a few critical duds from the Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath, Dio brought Sabbath to acclaim once again with ‘Heaven and Hell’ and ‘Mob Rules.’ Although Black Sabbath were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, Dio was not included in the honor.
After Ronnie’s years with Black Sabbath, he went on to form Dio, beginning the legacy of his newest project with the unforgettable ‘Holy Diver’ album in 1983. Dio remained a force in metal with his eponymous band until 2004, even while returning to Black Sabbath from 1991 – 1992.
Finally, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice formed Heaven & Hell, releasing one brilliant offering, ‘The Devil You Know,’ in 2009. Although Dio recorded the album in his mid-60s, ‘The Devil You Know’ boasts some of the singer’s all-time greatest vocal performances. Even when Ronnie was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2009, the singer’s voice never deteriorated one bit, almost as if it was detached entirely from his diminishing physical health.
Ronnie James Dio brought the “devil horns” hand gesture to metal, sold over 47 million albums and is regaled by many as the greatest heavy metal singer of all time. It’s truly staggering that although Ronnie James Dio has been eligible for induction since 1997 (Ronnie’s first full-length release was ‘Elf’ in 1972), his name has not once made the ballot. There is arguably no metal singer more worthy of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction than the immortal Ronnie James Dio.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we give you our argument. We’re sure you’ve heard all of the criticism from fans, and we’re adding our message to the pile. If being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is truly the apex of musical achievement, all of the trailblazing acts we mentioned above deserve a spot. An induction for any of these acts isn’t just a celebration of their signature impact, but a legitimization of your own Hall of Fame moving forward. Think about it … we’ll be waiting for your Class of 2015 nominees.
Your Friends at Loudwire
Do you agree with our choices? What other heavy acts deserve a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Post your opinions in the comments section below!