5 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Snubs That Leave Fans Baffled

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Audiophiles and fevered fandoms, it’s time again to settle in for one of music’s age-old barstool debates: Who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—but isn’t?

After four decades of enshrining artists known for tastemaking musicianship and chart-topping songcraft, an invitation to join the Rock Hall remains a pinnacle achievement for generations of popular music entertainers.

But, of course, these doors aren’t open to everyone. Artists become eligible 25 years after their debut release hit record store shelves. Each year, Hall officials release a nomination ballot to roughly 1,000 voters, including artists, historians, and industry members. In casting a ballot, the Hall asks voters to weigh “musical impact and influence on other artists, length and depth of career and body of work as well as innovation and superiority in style and technique,” according to rockhall.com. After the voting process, a handful of artists typically earn a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame invitation each year.

And despite its name, the Rock Hall often embraces a broad definition of qualifying artists who represent the institution, which “celebrates the sound of youth culture and honors the artists whose music connects us all,” per the Hall’s website. To that end, recent inductees include country legend Dolly Parton and hip-hop heavyweight Jay-Z, among others.

Let’s dive into five candidates who should appear at the top of the next Rock Hall ballot.


Want to build a case for OutKast in the Hall? Let’s present the evidence: “Miss Jackson,” “The Way You Move,” “So Fresh, So Clean,” “ATLiens,” “B.O.B.,””Roses”…

And then there’s “Hey Ya!,” one of the most celebrated songs of a generation.

Wildly influential and arguably unmatched as a hip-hop duo, OutKast’s discography speaks for itself. Need more evidence? Just press play on Speakerboxxx/The Love Below or Stankonia, both time-tested snapshots of the heights this group achieved.

Garth Brooks

Last year, a stadium crowd in Louisiana cheered so hard for Garth Brooks that it registered as an earthquake—literally. He might’ve been singing country music, but that should sound pretty rock ‘n’ roll to most hall of fame voters.

One of the best-selling artists in music history—in any genre—Brooks built a career on electric performances in front of record-breaking crowds. He’s a student of three-chord storytelling—“The Thunder Rolls” still rips—and mastered the stadium show as well as any of his rock peers. He continues to be one of the most sought-after entertainers in live music. Purists may argue others deserve a slot before him, but few could ignore his influence on an entire class of would-be entertainers who followed in his footsteps as dedicated showmen.

Iron Maiden

Millions of fans believe the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame needs a metal wave. With the exception of a few artists—Black Sabbath, Kiss, Judas Priest, Metallica—Rock Hall voters rarely extend induction invitations to music’s headbanger contingency. Arguments could be made for which omission needs to be corrected first (Megadeth? Motorhead? Dio?), but no candidate boasts an internationally renowned resume quite like Iron Maiden. Backed by frontman Bruce Dickinson and primary songwriter and bassist Steve Harris, the band spent decades mastering a style as heavy as it is melodic, while producing tours caked in outlandish theatrics and fan-favorite iconology.

[RELATED: 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Revealed]

The list of metal acts worthy of the Hall may grow in the coming years, as turn-of-the-century staples such as Slipknot, Linkin Park, and System of a Down reach eligibility.

Kris Kristofferson

A rare class of entertainers—including Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash—can claim spots in the Country Music and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame. Kris Kristofferson, one of the finest storytellers of his time, should be the next artist to join the club.

A U.S. Army veteran and Oxford scholar who once swept floors at the same studio where Bob Dylan cut Blonde on Blonde, Kristofferson built a lifelong legacy of singing real-world stories that didn’t cut corners or skirt hard truths. Legendary efforts include “Me and Bobby McGee,” the tune Janis Joplin made her cornerstone, and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” which his one-time Highwaymen bandmate Cash made famous in the early 1970s.

He entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004, leaving Rock Hall voters nearly two decades behind (and counting).

The Smiths

Wait, The Smiths aren’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Despite the polarizing off-stage actions of band frontman Morrissey, The Smiths’ catalog remains an essential strand to the web of 1980s alternative music still inspiring bands today. Somewhere in a college dorm room or dust-covered basement, there’s a young adult spinning “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” on repeat, just one chapter in the band’s guidebook for navigating life’s heavy, angst-ridden moments.

Photo by Annamaria DiSanto/WireImage

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