With each year's announcement of the latest nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame comes a familiar outcry about the number of artists from other genres (rap/hip-hop, disco, pop) who are considered ahead of rock artists. In announcing the nominees for induction in 2013, Rock Hall president/CEO Joel Peresman acknowledged the seeming contradiction while defending it. "The definition of 'rock & roll' means different things to different people," said Peresman, "but as broad as the classifications may be, they all share a common love of the music." Here are the latest nominees, starting with the artists of greatest interest to classic rock fans (the first seven) followed by this year's disco, r&b, rap, and other representatives.
Bands who have even ventured close to progressive rock have historically been overlooked by the Rock Hall, so the inclusion of Rush among the nominees is significant. They have been eligible for induction since 1999, but this is the first time they've been nominated. Back in 2010, guitarist Alex Lifeson told Classic Rock magazine, "I kinda like the status quo, where they don’t want us in there and we don’t really want to be there." But the official band statement diplomatically avoided any direct reference to past snubs. "We are especially thrilled for the many, many dedicated fans to whom this nomination is so very important," the statement said.
Deep Purple's nomination is their first, even though they became eligible for Rock Hall induction in 1993. Fans have long considered their exclusion inexcusable, but DP vocalist Ian Gillan was philosophical about it in a 2009 Billboard interview. "We probably deserve it, but ... we didn't start making music thinking of honors and halls of fame, and we still don't."
Their high profile in 2012 (new studio album, autobiography, box set, and tour) could help Heart in their second opportunity at being inducted (they were first nominated in 2011.) The 2012 nomination acknowledges, "Heart recorded a series of albums that stand as the best mix of hard rock and folk rock of their era. The first women to front a hard rock band, Ann and Nancy Wilson were pioneers, claiming the stage in a way that inspired women to pick up an electric guitar or start a band."
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
This is the second time Joan Jett and the Blackhearts have been included in the nominees. They were nominated but not inducted in 2011. "The honesty and power of their records make you believe that rock and roll can change the world," said the Rock Hall's announcement of their 2012 nomination. The band first became eligible in 2006.
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
This will be the second time Paul Butterfield Blues Band have been nominated. The band, whose original members included guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, released their first album in 1965, which means they were first eligible for Rock Hall induction in 1990.
This is Procol Harum's first nomination, and if past is prologue, they'll have to wait in line behind higher profile progressive/psychedelic bands who are still waiting for the call. Aside from serving as the launch pad for guitarist Robin Trower, the band helped move prog rock into the mainstream with songs like their 1967 "A Whiter Shade of Pale" which is still a fixture on classic rock radio stations in 2012.
Blues guitarist Albert King in on the nominees list for the first time. The fact that he has been cited as a major influence by artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Steve Ray Vaughan and Joe Walsh (to name just a few) should carry weight in judging the degree to which King shaped rock.
Disco band Chic are on the list for the seventh time. According to the Rock Hall, "They rescued disco in 1977 with a combination of groove, soul and distinctly New York City studio smarts."
Donna Summer has been nominated five times. Ironically, the fact that she died in May 2012 may actually increase the chance that she might be inducted this time if there is a substantial "sympathy vote."