Jann Wenner Admits: Some Bands Have Never Been Considered for Rock Hall

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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland (Photo by Jeff Tamarkin, used with permission)

At Best Classic Bands, we report annually on which artists are nominated and then inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and we also maintain a list of artists that have yet to be considered by the institution, despite being eligible. Within the latter category are numerous mainstream rock bands that found commercial success, mostly from the late ’70s and the ’80s, but have never found favor among rock critics and other music industry tastemakers. Many of them have been branded “corporate rock,” a derogatory term that would imply that these bands’ massive fandom was somehow manufactured by the industry and is not genuine.

Accordingly, each year, when the Rock Hall’s nominating committee meets to discuss which artists will be up for selection in the next “class,” those bands are routinely ignored.

We at BCB receive more irate comments from readers regarding these Rock Hall snubs than any other single topic.

To recap, the way artists get inducted into the Rock Hall is by first being nominated. A committee of around 20-30 music industry professionals, journalists, artists, media people, etc., whose membership has changed often in the 30-plus years of the Hall’s existence, meets annually in New York City and discusses which artists  they feel should be nominated. Once they narrow down their choices, usually to around 15 names, a larger body of several hundred people, again mostly connected to the music industry in some way, vote. At the end of the yearly vote, a short list of artists, averaging around seven per year, is elected for induction. (In order to be eligible for induction, an artist must have recorded for the first time a minimum of 25 years prior to the induction year under consideration.)

Pete Townshend and Jann Wenner, NYC, Oct. 2012 (Photo © Greg Brodsky)

Podcaster and comedian Marc Maron is among those who have noticed that the Rock Hall seems biased against certain types of bands, and in an Oct. 6, 2022, episode of his podcast, “WTF With Marc Maron,” he hosted Rolling Stone magazine founder and original editor-publisher Jann Wenner, who is making the media rounds promoting his memoir, unsurprisingly titled Like a Rolling Stone. Wenner was also a co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and for many years was not only a member of the nominating committee but the Chairman of the institution. (Specifically, he dropped out of the nominating committee after 2006 and resigned from the Chairman position in 2019.)

Maron brought up the topic of the habitual snubs of certain bands, in particular Foreigner, Styx, Boston and REO Speedwagion, by the nominating committee. The discussion begins approximately 36 minutes into the interview, which runs for about 75 minutes total.

(To be fair, while many bands not particularly popular among the critics and such have been kept out of the Hall, others, including Journey, Yes, Chicago, ELO, the Moody Blues and, as mentioned by Wenner, Bon Jovi, have been inducted, albeit in some cases after decades of eligibility. Wenner is not asked, nor does he volunteer, why some of these bands have made the cut while others remain in the waiting room.)

Watch Atlantic Records’ co-founder Ahmet Ertegun and Mick Jagger induct Jann Wenner into the Rock Hall

The conversation went like this (listen to the full interview here):

Jann Wenner in the early days of Rolling Stone

Marc Maron: Are there bands—and I know you’ve been accused of this before—that you just will not indulge at all? There’s been talk of you maybe stifling some people’s membership into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that feel like they deserve it.

Jann Wenner: There is talk of that, but I don’t control that. I’m not on the Nominating Committee. (Note: Wenner served on the committee from its inception in 1986 until 2006.)

MM: Nothing against Foreigner per se?

JW: Nothing against Foreigner per se. In fact I was very good friends with [singer-songwriter Mick Jones, who co-founded the band in 1976], and I like their work. But Foreigner’s name has never come up in the nominating committee to be nominated.

MM: REO Speedwagon, no?

JW: No. There’s that era. Not them, not Boston, Styx. That whole era, it does not come up at all.

MM: I grew up in that era. I went to high school in that era.

JW: Then you’re not gonna get in the Hall of Fame either. What can I tell you? (laughs)

MM: You got in pretty quick. [Wenner was inducted in 2004.]

JW: But there are some…like Bon Jovi, it took years for him to get in.

MM: Eventually, you’ll run out of guys. They’ll all get in. They might not be around. There might be one guy left. But they’ll all get in.

The nominating committee is expected to convene in early 2023 to announce the latest slate of nominees.

For a comprehensive look at the membership of the nominating committee from its inception until the present, as well as a list of current voters, go here.

Watch Journey’s induction speeches at the 2017 Rock Hall induction ceremony

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25 Comments so far

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  1. Bob
    #1 Bob 7 October, 2022, 17:53

    I was very surprised Poco didnt finally make it last time given the deaths of 2 members last year . Thats a RRHOF m.o. for sure . Speaking star power inducting Poco wont be like finally letting Moody Blues or Rush in , but Poco did open the door to that whole ” country rock ” thing .

    Reply this comment
    • Tom M.
      Tom M. 8 October, 2022, 23:37

      Proof positive that the RRHOF is a sham. It’s Jann Wenner’s Hall of Fame. What a disgrace.

      Reply this comment
  2. Jimbo
    #2 Jimbo 8 October, 2022, 04:15

    Those names just never come up? I’m not sure I believe that. If that’s really the case, the nominating committee must have some very pretentious tools on it…..

    Reply this comment
  3. Cole
    #3 Cole 8 October, 2022, 08:05

    Still waiting for Procol Harum.

    Reply this comment
  4. Goldy
    #4 Goldy 8 October, 2022, 08:36

    Jann Wenner is so full of himself it’s not even funny.

    Jethro Tull, whose 50+ years body of work is amazing, but not HOF worthy? Ridiculous!

    Reply this comment
  5. stuart
    #5 stuart 8 October, 2022, 09:16

    Why should someone’s death mean that there’s some sort of ‘for sure’ factor?
    The whole ‘hall of fame’ model is garbage.

    Reply this comment
  6. Woody
    #6 Woody 8 October, 2022, 10:18

    How does an entire era “not come up”. That in and of itself sounds like a bunch of BS or some voting members simply dislike certain bands. Foreigner and Styx not even considered? Absurd! I don’t know the answer but are there any other bands from that era that have been inducted? I would think so and therefore that era would have “come up”. Isn’t that Era the late 70’d and 80’s? Even into the 90’s. Also, maybe they should leave out non-rock ‘n’ roll acts and let in the real ones. For example Dolly Parton. Nothing against her but rock ‘n’ roll? That’s a joke.

    Reply this comment
  7. mnimudd
    #7 mnimudd 8 October, 2022, 11:34

    Good reason to cancel your rolling stone magazine. I know I haven’t read it in years. Just a bunch of elitests

    Reply this comment
  8. Da Mick
    #8 Da Mick 8 October, 2022, 11:56

    As if the Rock Hall thing doesn’t already irritate and frustrate fans to no end annually, as it is, here comes this article with the main high poobah of musical snobbery himself, to further infuriate and incite the rancor of music fans everywhere. How many times……? At this point I don’t think fans continue to be incensed at what the R&RHOF is. How can you rationally be? To do so would fall right in with what that old saying about what insanity is. No, it’s really about the ongoing disappointment with what it isn’t, based on what the name initially implied to us all. But folks, it’s been apparent for some time now that the idea we all shared about it was a fantasy. I don’t know what exactly the R&RHOF is, but it ain’t that. So, it’s time to get over it, and move on. Oh, and Mr. Wenner, it’s certainly not news but you’re a dick.

    Reply this comment
  9. Mayra González
    #9 Mayra González 8 October, 2022, 14:22

    What about Janet Jackson??? She’s NOT rock and roll at all. Her only merit is to be Michael’s sister and the shameful spectacle she did at the Superbowl.
    And by the way: Michael’s not rock and roll either.

    Reply this comment
  10. Daveasphalt
    #10 Daveasphalt 8 October, 2022, 15:23

    His arrogance shows through even in this interview.

    Reply this comment
  11. Batchman
    #11 Batchman 8 October, 2022, 19:10

    The worst part of it is that Wikipedia has bought into it, and now uses it on their Deaths page. What used to be “rock drummer” is now listed as “Hall of Fame drummer,” which not only looks silly but deprives the reader of key information about the genre of music the decedent belongs to.

    Reply this comment
  12. BiggByrddogg327
    #12 BiggByrddogg327 9 October, 2022, 02:29

    The thing about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame they really biased and racist you got people and legends like Johnny Ace Joe Tex Donny Hathaway Roberta Flack Luther Vandross, Even Ohio’s Very Own The Ohio Players, Zapp & Roger Troutman, Lakeside, & Slave Feat. The Rev. Steve Arrington, Mötörhead, Judas Priest, Minnie Riperton, Don Cornelius, Big Star, Dan Hartman, Debarge, Nas, DMX, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Geto Boys, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Cheech & Chong, Scarface, Tears For Fears, Go West, Bangles, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Kurtis Blow, Big Daddy Kane, Barry White,Teddy Pendergrass, Andraè Crouch,And so many more Multicultural musicians and legends deserves to be Inducted Into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. But You need to broaden your minds and your biased opinions and Let These Legends Be Inducted Into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame already so people like me can be Inducted someday so my children and grandchildren can be proud of the work that I put in.

    Reply this comment
    • JCB
      JCB 9 October, 2022, 08:17

      How about we start with Jethro Tull and Bad Company. How is there a R+R Hall without the presence of one of the greatest front men in rock history Paul Rodgers?

      Reply this comment
  13. paperbackwriter66
    #13 paperbackwriter66 9 October, 2022, 05:33

    Firstly, the whole concept of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame is surely antithetical to rock music which was never meant to be ‘respectable’. Secondly, it’s no surprise that the likes of Foreigner, Rush, Styx, REO Speedwagon or Journey ever got admitted because their music was neither consistently good nor original. They did not ‘break the mould’ with their music – it was bland and boring and unoriginal.

    Reply this comment
  14. Jaggers ghost
    #14 Jaggers ghost 9 October, 2022, 06:20

    Foreigner and Journey are “corporate bands” anyway so they really don’t count as qualifiers at any rate.

    Reply this comment
  15. Rob
    #15 Rob 9 October, 2022, 09:50

    This is a BOGUS self-appointed organization. Their selections are biased and inconsistent.
    Nominations are based on a handful of opinionated members and not on real achievements and longevity of some groups. One example, Where is Johnny Winter? One of America’s greatest Texas blues and rock guitarists who toured endlessly until his death. But somehow many less qualified artists are already in. This is a R&R Hall of Shame.

    Reply this comment
  16. The beast
    #16 The beast 9 October, 2022, 10:32

    UFO put album after album innovator of heavy metal but had great ballads too

    Reply this comment
  17. Groovy Dude
    #17 Groovy Dude 9 October, 2022, 11:15

    It really should be renamed the Music Hall Of Fame. More non-rock acts are the bulk of the groups or people going in these days. I’ve questioned their legitimacy from the beginning. Leon Russell should have been in the inaugural class. The Moody Blues should’ve been inducted years ago. And for Jethro Tull to not be in at all speaks volumes as to how illegitimate the Hall is. Are all these nominations 15 or 20 years old?

    Reply this comment
  18. Wolfdad
    #18 Wolfdad 9 October, 2022, 14:53

    It is not a true rock and roll HOF!! I maintain that a pure rock and roll HOF should be created at Bethel Woods, NY!!

    Reply this comment
  19. Saddam DeLuise
    #19 Saddam DeLuise 9 October, 2022, 18:57

    DEVO finally made the nomination list. this alone proves the DEVOLUTION is real. Bon Jovi in before DEVO was even nominated? Bollocks! Mierda!!!

    Reply this comment
  20. Max
    #20 Max 9 October, 2022, 20:23

    R&RHOF is a very insular organization. Need to be or have members of your band or have your band’s management of a certain ilk.

    Reply this comment
    • Dave Whack
      Dave Whack 10 October, 2022, 21:26

      All I will say is the Great Al Kooper and J. Tull! It’s turned into Wenner’s Private Showroom & Study. RS has become a mockery of the ’60s in so many ways. Don’t even look at the crazy covers any more. They’ve been bought/co-opted by the powers they decried in 1970.

      Reply this comment

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