There Are Not Enough Women in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
April 8, 2016 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Courtney E. Smith writes on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's woman problem: out of 312 inductees, only 37 are women (or bands with women). No one inducted as an executive, manager, or producer is a woman.

For the 2016 nominations, the Hall reached out to the metal community (including at least one female journalist) after years of criticism that it was overlooking the genre. Smith notes that similar steps could be taken, specifically "even[ing] out the voting pool with younger voters from all aspects of the music industry, especially with an eye toward likely-underrepresented parties: people under 45, women, and minorities."

The 2016 nominations included only two women (Chaka Khan and Janet Jackson), and neither was inducted.
posted by Etrigan (77 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
You have to give a few points to Nirvana, for not only mentioning this issue during their acceptance (and specifically calling out the HoF for not having found a place for Joan Jett yet; though thankfully they did the following year) but for bringing in fantastic women rockers like Jett, Kim Gordon, Annie Vincent, and Lorde to sub for Kurt Cobain.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:36 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


people under 45, women, and minorities

One of these things is not like the others. While a shortage of women and minorities is obviously cause for alarm, if you're much younger than 45 your career probably needs a few more decades of maturation before you're Hall-of-Fame-worthy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:37 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


That's people under 45 on the nominating committee, not in the Hall itself.
posted by Etrigan at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're absolutely right, Etrigan. Failure of reading comprehension on my part.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:40 PM on April 8, 2016


Cheap Trick got in for heaven's sake. Surely there are a lot of women more deserving than Cheap Trick.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:42 PM on April 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


There are many, many great women who deserve enshrinement, ThatCanadianGirl. We all totally agree on that, I am sure.

But Cheap Trick are awesome. They're far from the low end of people in the Hall of Fame. Far, far, far, far, far.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:43 PM on April 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


Cheap Trick got in for heaven's sake. Surely there are a lot of women more deserving than Cheap Trick.

Cheap Trick are enormously deserving. So are many, many women who aren't in. One doesn't cancel out the other.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:44 PM on April 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Cheap Trick are enormously deserving

i shudder to think of a Hall of Fame that lacks 5-neck guitars
posted by beerperson at 12:48 PM on April 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


They have Gene Pitney but not EmmyLou Harris? Shame!!
posted by archimago at 12:49 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Griping about who is in that you might not like kinda misses the point of this thing.

Let's call out the female performers who are way past due instead.

I'll start:

The Shangri-Las.

Mary Weiss isn't in the Hall of Fame. ARE YOU KIDDING?

Fact: Mary Weiss is still awesome.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:50 PM on April 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


Okay, clearly I've missed something with them. I take it back and will focus on the women who are not in the Hall. On preview - yes, Emmy Lou Harris for example!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:51 PM on April 8, 2016


A couple of months ago, I noticed my MP3 collection was dominated by male artists. I set out to fix that, by trying to make sure there was one artist who was a woman for every artist I had who was a man.

It's been worth it. I've had to reach far afield of the mainstream in many cases, but I have found an awful lot of music I might not have heard otherwise. And it's great stuff -- legitimately unjustly ignore, overlooked, minimized, or just never given a chance.

There are some genres where this is easier than other. There have been a lot of women soul singers. There have been a lot of women in country. But there are some genres, and especially subgenres, where it's just a fight to find women participating at all. And a lot of these are rock genres. I don't know why this is.

It doesn't mean these artists can't be found. But sometimes their catalogue is out of print, so not available in digital form. There are some genres of rock which just seemed hostile to women, so I'm not surprised there was less involvement. As much as I may be a fan of garage rock, it sometimes sounds like three-chords of angry, bitter ex-boyfriends. Not super welcoming.

It's hard not to feel like there has been a subtle but genuine effort to exclude women in rock. Not universally, of course, and not entirely, but let's pick a year at random. 1977. Here's the top rock songs of the year:

EAGLES - Hotel California
LYNYRD SKYNYRD - Free Bird (Live)
AEROSMITH - Walk This Way
FLEETWOOD MAC - Dreams
STEVE MILLER BAND - Fly Like an Eagle
BOB SEGER - Night Moves
MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND - Blinded By the Light
VAN MORRISON - Moondance
FLEETWOOD MAC - Don't Stop
FOREIGNER - Feels Like the First Time

Just Stevie Nicks. Everything else is men. And here's a longer list from the year. Hugely dominated by men. There are women, but it's the same few over and over: a couple by Heart, a few by Rondstadt, a few by Fleetwood Mac, which is a male fronted band with two women in it.

And how does it change? I suspect that people would respond badly to the idea of quotas, but I instituted my own quota. One woman for every man. And it's not like it has resulted in me buying a whole bunch of shitty music. If I don't like the song, I don't buy it. No, instead it has resulted in me getting a whole lot of music I would otherwise have missed. Great music, completely overlooked.

Increasingly I am all for quotas. I actually think the only people who object to them are privileged people who are sure they will lose out to someone less deserving. But there's no reason to assume that would be the case. Instead, you end up including people who were unjustly left out previously.

So Hall of Fame, give it a try. Don't just think that getting a more diverse selection committee will do the trick. It might help, but there are no guarantees. Just commit to making sure you have as many women as men. They're there. You just have to be ready to work a little harder.
posted by maxsparber at 12:51 PM on April 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


On the one hand, this is ridiculous and awful. On the other hand, so are so many other things about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's a joke of an institution, and it's not even consistent about what it's celebrating. If it's the "American popular music Hall of Fame," call it that. If it's about rock and roll, then why are there pop, hip-hop, country, and disco artists there? I'm sure the Bee Gees deserve to be in some sort of hall of fame, but probably not the Rock and Roll one.
posted by explosion at 12:55 PM on April 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


Isn't this one of those things that's going to solve itself as time goes on and more female artists become eligible?

I mean I checked the obvious ones. Patty Smyth is in there with Scandal. Debbie Harry is in there with Blondie. Heart didn't get in. Bonnie Tyler? Nope. Belinda Carlisle or The Go-Gos? "From what I heard, someone in the band may have offended someone on the [Rock Hall] board, who said, 'Over my dead body will the Go-Go's ever get in,' '' Carlisle said. So I think they're out. Terri Nunn and Berlin? Nope.

I don't really get it because the Hall of Fame seems to accept pop acts like Abba. Shouldn't Roxette be the next logical step?
posted by Talez at 12:57 PM on April 8, 2016


Pat Benatar? The Runaways? MARY WELLS?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:59 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Isn't this one of those things that's going to solve itself as time goes on and more female artists become eligible?

I've never seen a gender problem solve itself.
posted by maxsparber at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2016 [31 favorites]


The Runaways?

Joan Jett is in the Hall of Fame. She was inducted last year.
posted by Talez at 1:01 PM on April 8, 2016


Is the problem soley with the Hall, or is it Rock n Roll in general? Even with all the outsider, counter-culture trappings, the dominant Rock n Rollers seemed to want an exclusively white and male domain despite its origins and despite others trying to get in the door.
posted by cell divide at 1:02 PM on April 8, 2016


I've never seen a gender problem solve itself.

I guess what I mean the distribution of women in the creation of culture has been going up dramatically the past decade so it becomes harder and harder to ignore female contributions.
posted by Talez at 1:02 PM on April 8, 2016


Joan Jett (as I noted above) is in, yeah. But not The Runaways, nope.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:03 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just Stevie Nicks.

Not to nitpick, but Don't Stop was written and sung by Christine McVie, who was also in Fleetwood Mac (and deserves the HOF).
posted by everybody had matching towels at 1:03 PM on April 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Is the problem soley with the Hall, or is it Rock n Roll in general? Even with all the outsider, counter-culture trappings, the dominant Rock n Rollers seemed to want an exclusively white and male domain despite its origins and despite others trying to get in the door.

So it's all about ethics in rock and roll journalism? That would be a new one.
posted by Talez at 1:04 PM on April 8, 2016


Not to nitpick, but Don't Stop was written and sung by Christine McVie, who was also in Fleetwood Mac (and deserves the HOF).

I overlooked that one. Dreams was the one I was referring to, also in the top 10.
posted by maxsparber at 1:07 PM on April 8, 2016


PJ Harvey is eligible next year. JUST SAYING.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:09 PM on April 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


Phoebe Snow!
posted by archimago at 1:14 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


As much as I may be a fan of garage rock, it sometimes sounds like three-chords of angry, bitter ex-boyfriends. Not super welcoming.

Girls in the Garage, Vol. 1
(Unfortunately, this appears to be out-of-print.)
Vol. 2.

posted by Atom Eyes at 1:14 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thanks! I have managed to find quite a few women garage rock artists, but that was one of the areas where I had to do a little bit of digging.
posted by maxsparber at 1:16 PM on April 8, 2016


Kate Bush
Dolly freakin Parton!!
B52s
Indigo Girls
posted by archimago at 1:16 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Alanis Morissette is eligible next year. If she doesn't get in we'll know something is wrong with the process. Tori Amos as well.
posted by Talez at 1:17 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well, now, to determine who deserves to be in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, the question we really need to answer is: what is rock n roll, anyway?

[the party immediately clears out]
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:20 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


My play list is lacking in females I think, it's mostly 90s alternative so I have The Breeders, Hole, Sonic Youth, The Cranberries, No Doubt... but for every one of those there are 10 male fronted bands/artists. Hmm in which category do I put my Hedwig soundtrack?
posted by Hazelsmrf at 1:22 PM on April 8, 2016


we were listening to some of the women who were on mtv/the radio during the alternative/post alternative thing and noting that they never seem to make the 'best xyz of the 123!' lists or come up on random in spotify radio or get mentioned by people who mention being inspired by that scene. there's definitely a problem of not enough women in rock but there's also a problem of the women who do make it in that arena not being recognized after their 3minutes and 20seconds of songplay is over.
posted by nadawi at 1:31 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think that there's definitely something fucked up with their process if Heart isn't in.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:43 PM on April 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


what is rock n roll, anyway?

It's originally a white country guitar player trying to play R&B
posted by thelonius at 1:44 PM on April 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


There Are Not Enough Women in the _________________
posted by freakazoid at 1:46 PM on April 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Tori Amos perhaps?

There are not enough genres with meaningful representation in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including metal, progressive rock, punk like Black Flag or The Dead Kennedys, or goth like Joy Division or The Cure. Arguably anybody who "changes rock" beyond their limited little perspective gets excluded. At least for several decades. Appears they've snubbed much of folk rock too, including Joan Baez.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:48 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


EAGLES - Hotel California
LYNYRD SKYNYRD - Free Bird (Live)
AEROSMITH - Walk This Way
FLEETWOOD MAC - Dreams
STEVE MILLER BAND - Fly Like an Eagle
BOB SEGER - Night Moves
MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND - Blinded By the Light
VAN MORRISON - Moondance
FLEETWOOD MAC - Don't Stop
FOREIGNER - Feels Like the First Time


Also, this is why punk happened.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:56 PM on April 8, 2016 [11 favorites]


Alanis Morissette is eligible next year.

Isn't she from some strange country that is not the US? Same country as Rush, iirc, who were eligible for about 50 years or so before they were let in, probably by mistake.

(But at least she speaks English. If that's not your native language, I'm pretty sure you're completely fucked. Wake me up when Kraftwerk gets in.)
posted by effbot at 2:01 PM on April 8, 2016


Annette Peacock every day of the week! Unfortunately we live in a world where there is a 'dad rock' hall of fame but not a 'cool dad rock' hall of fame. (Sorry, but do check it out.)
posted by Cassettevetes at 2:01 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Heart didn't get in. "

Wait, what? Seriously? What kind of "Hall of Fame" is this?
posted by I-baLL at 2:02 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think that there's definitely something fucked up with their process if Heart isn't in.

I've tried to understand. Tried to understand. Tried, tried, tried to understand why anyone takes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seriously in light of stuff like this.
posted by Hoopo at 2:03 PM on April 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


I refuse to recognize any hall of fame that does not recognize Suzi Quatro*. Thank goodness that the baseball hof has an entire wing dedicated to her.


* - I mean, really, if Joan Jett is in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, why isn't Suzi there?
posted by NoMich at 2:06 PM on April 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


L7 or GTFO
posted by Hoopo at 2:30 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Increasingly I am all for quotas.

Here's mine - for every band named "Green Day" that gets inducted, a band named "The Jam" must be inducted as well.
posted by davebush at 2:39 PM on April 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ooo, also Betty Davis.
posted by Hoopo at 2:56 PM on April 8, 2016


I dunno, I think you guys might be looking at this wrong. I just perused the list of inductees, and I'm thinking there may be too many women in the Hall of Fame already.

I mean, would you want any women you know hanging around with Chuck Berry, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Ike Turner, Lou Reed, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Miles Davis, Axle Rose, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, Dr Dre and Easy E, Quincy Jones, or any of the maybe-less-misogynist-but-still-giant-assholes who make up a significant bulk of the residents?

I love PJ Harvey. Why in god's name would I want her in the same room with sourpuss Eddie Van Halen or Sting's giant ego?
posted by Anoplura at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


No Diana Ross or The Supremes.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:41 PM on April 8, 2016


Well it's the Rock and Roll hall of fame, not the Music hall of fame.

I'm Pretty sure Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton weren't , ya know, rock and rollers so much as country music singers so WHY would you put them in there? I bet there is some kind of Country Music Hall of Fame where you could find them.

I have the Runaways album, perhaps if they made as many bad albums as Kiss for as long a period of time they could've gotten in, but just being exploited teen girls is not a free pass. Just sayin'...
posted by Max Power at 3:54 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean, would you want any women you know hanging around with Chuck Berry, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Ike Turner, Lou Reed, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Miles Davis, Axle Rose, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, Dr Dre and Easy E, Quincy Jones, or any of the maybe-less-misogynist-but-still-giant-assholes who make up a significant bulk of the residents?

I don't know. Maybe? I saw Laurie Anderson a few months ago at a screening of Heart of a Dog and she seems to have emerged relatively unscathed from her marriage to Lou Reed. Emily Haines loved him to death, too.

Lots of great artists are assholes, and female rockers aren't exactly shrinking violets. I'd prefer to think that a woman like P.J. Harvey could eat a pipsqueak like Axl Rose for breakfast and I'm certainly not concerned about leaving her alone on a stage with him.
posted by Mothlight at 5:14 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


My play list is lacking in females I think, it's mostly 90s alternative so I have The Breeders, Hole, Sonic Youth, The Cranberries, No Doubt...

Oh, but 90s alternative is just full of great women artists! Off the top of my head:
Poe, Portishead, Veruca Salt, Letters To Cleo, Whale, Ace of Base, Garbage
(The aforementioned) PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, The Cardagins, Holly McNarland, Sarah Mclachlen, Lisa Loeb, Sneaker Pimps, Hooverphonic, 4nonblondes, Concrete Blonde, Elastica
A whole bunch more I'm undoubtedly forgetting.

posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:27 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Does being a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee mean anything besides giving you the right to say you are an inductee (and I guess the ability to vote on future inductees)? Has it ever been anything other than a transparently artificial attempt at canon formation by an institution staking a claim to an authority it hasn't earned?
posted by Gerald Bostock at 5:28 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I guess those sound like rhetorical questions, but I really am curious if there are any material benefits for inductees.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 5:29 PM on April 8, 2016


The industry recognizes your commercial success Gerald.
posted by Max Power at 5:45 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I nominate Girlschool. And the Bell Rays, featuring the amazing Lisa Kekaula.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Rickie Lee Jones?
posted by fuse theorem at 6:31 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Steve Miller had a lot to say last night after his induction:
The singer, guitarist and space cowboy, known for smooth 1970s hits like “The Joker,” used his onstage acceptance speech to tactfully allude to the Rock Hall’s opaque nomination process and poor track record on inducting women.

Backstage, he unleashed more of his feelings.

Asked to expand on his criticisms of the organization, which was founded by industry heavyweights like Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone and has its museum in Cleveland, Mr. Miller said, “The whole process is unpleasant,” suggesting that it be “changed from the top to the bottom.”
and then
When a publicist for the Rock Hall tried to interrupt him, Mr. Miller persisted. “No, we’re not going to wrap this up — I’m going to wrap you up,” he said. “You go sit down over there and learn something.”

“This is how close this whole show came to not happening because of the way the artists are being treated,” Mr. Miller said, holding two fingers very close together.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:58 PM on April 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


Some people call him Maurice.
posted by Lyme Drop at 12:56 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


How about Kathleen Hannah?
posted by BYiro at 3:49 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I guess what I mean the distribution of women in the creation of culture has been going up dramatically the past decade so it becomes harder and harder to ignore female contributions

Women have always contributed to the creation of culture. It is exactly institutions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that obscure this fact, by failing to fairly recognise and value women's contributions. If we allow this to pass unchallenged (again, as it has so often throughout history) future generations will think, like we sometimes do, that they invented talented and accomplished women.
posted by misfish at 4:37 AM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seriously, it's so amazing that anyone can believe that women have only RECENTLY been contributing their talents to the art world. Hello?
posted by agregoli at 8:16 AM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


If we allow this to pass unchallenged (again, as it has so often throughout history) future generations will think, like we sometimes do, that they invented talented and accomplished women.

Having future historians base their understanding of the 19th century on excavations of a privately owned commercial museum in a boring city sounds like a Motel of the Mysteries sequel.
posted by effbot at 9:12 AM on April 9, 2016


I'm not sure how any argument could be made that Kate Bush shouldn't have been inducted ages ago, but I'm open to hearing it. Seems to me she towers above a lot of the names above on talent, success, originality and endurance. I mean, how do you induct Steve Miller before Kate Bush?
posted by Rumple at 9:57 AM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Don't knock Steve Miller! But I hear you. I feel similarly about Bjork.
posted by Lyme Drop at 11:09 AM on April 9, 2016


As a 90s kid, I notice a similar pattern of post hoc masculinist canonization going on with Spotify and classic rock radio as nadawi notes above. Female fronted rock and riot grrl seem systematically underrepresented in contemporary playlists that claim to represent that period. It wasn't all just Bush and that one Soundgarden song. I always found it suspicious too that alternative rock was declared dead by the record companies in about 1996, just as the riot grrl/female singer-songwriter trend was peaking.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:16 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Alright, because the lack of these kinds of lists on Spotify are bugging me, here's a new one I just put together: Women in Indie and Alternative Rock, 1990s-2010s. It's collaborative. Go crazy.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:13 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I dunno, is Kate Bush considered Rock & Roll? And while we're at it, can we void ABBA? Brilliant Euro-pop, but the antithesis of Rock.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:40 PM on April 9, 2016


I nominate Girlschool .

Girlschool have been underrated and didn’t get enough attention their entire career. Lemmy tried though.
posted by bongo_x at 5:20 PM on April 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


i feel like there's a lot to quibble with about why it's called the 'rock & roll hall of fame' when it's really the 'popular music that reflects the tastes of those picking the nominees,' but i bristle when those charges are levied against artists who are women, especially in a conversation about their under-representation in the hall of fame.
posted by nadawi at 5:23 PM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Fair enough, Nadawi. There are worthier arguments out there.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:29 PM on April 9, 2016


L7 or GTFO

I'd even go so far as to say L7 or you'll be on my Shitlist
posted by The Gooch at 10:14 PM on April 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sleater-Kinney will only become eligible soon? Come on, Carrie Brownstein has already written a book.
posted by floatboth at 3:38 AM on April 10, 2016


Not unlike baseball's HOF, it's often more like the Hall of Pretty Good.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:41 AM on April 14, 2016


Don't knock Steve Miller!

Well, uh, the people who inducted him, the Black Keys... they sure knocked Steve Miller.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:35 PM on April 14, 2016


Boy, I can't imagine why Rolling Stone printed that.
posted by maxsparber at 12:37 PM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Didn't the Black Keys just pretty much read a Wikipedia article when introducing Steve Miller?
posted by Chrysostom at 1:30 PM on April 14, 2016


Oh, my. "unpleasant." Poor bastards.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:21 PM on April 14, 2016


the people who inducted him, the Black Keys... they sure knocked Steve Miller.

Generation gap.
posted by bongo_x at 9:25 PM on April 14, 2016


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