should connie francis be in the rock & roll hall of fame?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 min­utes.

THE READERS AT QUORA have been keeping me busy—once I an­swered a ques­tion or two in­tel­li­gently and fairly, I’ve been get­ting re­quests to an­swer others. An­swer one ques­tion, and an­other pops up, even if it wasn’t asked di­rectly of me. Many ques­tions I just pass by, but this one was right in my ball­park: “Why isn’t Connie Francis in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?”

And since I am spending time and en­ergy there, why not bring the fruits of my labor back here, to my blogs. For those of you who are younger than, say, 40-years-old, Connie Francis was a huge star.

She recorded and is­sued scores of sin­gles with many of them big hits (see below), she re­leased at least four dozen albums—not in­cluding hits pack­ages and live albums—and she starred in three movies.

 

Connie Francis may not be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but her pic­tures are prob­ably still on the walls of Italian restau­rants around the world!

 

She’s kind of like a fe­male Bobby Darin: she could sing any­thing and ap­par­ently wanted to sing every­thing! She recorded pop, shlock, country, songs in Italian, songs in German, songs in He­brew, and oc­ca­sion­ally a little rock & roll.

But she’s not in any Hall of Fame, al­though her pic­tures are prob­ably still on the walls of count­less Italian restau­rants around the world!

So below find my an­swer to the ques­tion, “Should Connie Francis be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?” (My an­swer is the text be­tween the pictures.)

 

ConnieFrancis WhosSorryNow LP 600 1

Connie Fran­cis’s first album Who’s Sorry Now was re­leased in April 1958. There’s little on it that in­di­cates that she would be rocking and rolling on fu­ture sin­gles, and nothing on it that would make anyone on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nom­i­nating com­mittee take her se­ri­ously as a po­ten­tial in­ductee. Cool cover though—she looks sharp and sassy!

Connie and the Hall of Fame

The ar­gu­ment against Con­cetta Rosa Maria Franconero—Connie Francis to her fans, who were once legion—is that she was, by in­cli­na­tion, a pop singer who could sing any­thing and oc­ca­sion­ally dab­bled in the new rock & roll music. Her two biggest rock & roll hits were Stupid Cupid (#16) and Lip­stick On Your Collar (#3), both of which sounded great on the radio but they’re as much pop as they are rock.

It may be dif­fi­cult for to­day’s younger readers to con­ceive, but fe­male singers of Con­nie’s era were not en­cour­aged to sing rock & roll by their record com­pa­nies, their pro­ducers, or their man­agers (or their boyfriends or hus­bands). They were en­cour­aged to sing lik­able pop sings and look as cute as pos­sible while doing so. (Well, maybe that’s not all that dif­ferent from fe­male pop singers of the 21st century.)

The biggest ar­gu­ment for Connie Francis is that she had thirty-five Top 40 hits on Cash Box, fif­teen of which reached the Top 10. This makes her one of the biggest hit­makers of all time—at least back in the day when you ac­tu­ally had to sell records to have hits. Here is a com­par­ison of her ca­reer as a hit­maker com­pared to two artists al­ready in the Hall of Fame:

•  Fats Domino had thirty-five sides reach the Bill­board Top 40. Eight of those made the Top 10 but none of them topped that chart.

•  Ricky Nelson had thirty-five sides reach the Bill­board Top 40. Eigh­teen of those made the Top 10 and two topped that chart.

•  Connie Francis had thirty-five sides reach the Bill­board Top 40. Six­teen of those made the Top 10 and three topped that chart.

In easy-to-read fig­ures, the three state­ments above look like this:

Fats Domino: 35/8/0
Ricky Nelson: 35/18/2
Connie Francis: 35/16/3

Connie Francis out­per­formed Fats Domino on the pop charts and held her own with Ricky Nelson. These two male artists rank among the biggest pop stars of their era and these fig­ures are often used to il­lus­trate their ac­com­plish­ments. Connie is their equal yet I have never heard her spoken in the rev­erent tones re­served for the two Hall of Famers!

 

NeilSedaka StupidCupid PS Italy 600

Neil Sedaka wrote sev­eral hits for Connie Francis, in­cluding Stupid Cupid. Sedaka was very pop­ular in Italy and RCA Victor re­leased his ver­sion as a single in 1959. It in­cluded this car­toon pic­ture sleeve. De­spite writing and recording a slew of hits, Neil also gets short shrift from the Hall of Fame be­cause, well, he’s too damn white.

The majesty of love

This is a sta­tistic that should matter to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nom­i­na­tors but ap­par­ently doesn’t. That she often sang her pop with more gusto and soul than what we as­so­ciate with tra­di­tional white pop/easy-listening singers doesn’t seem to matter.

That she was one of the few white fe­male singers to have sig­nif­i­cant Top 40 hits with her rock & roll records doesn’t seem to matter.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has not been par­tic­u­larly gen­erous in in­ducting this type of artist, so I wouldn’t hold my breath ex­pecting it to happen any time soon.

As an aside, check out her fine fine su­perfine duet with Marvin Rain­water on The Majesty Of Love, an odd com­bi­na­tion of country & western and doo-wop.

 

Posed photo of Connie Francis in pajamas from the late 1950s or early '60s.

I found this de­lightful posed photo of Connie but could not find a date for it. I would guess the late ’50s,—I mean, it pretty much shouts “Fifties!,” or at least early ’60s—but I’m cer­tainly not an ex­pert on her appearance.

Who’s sorry now?

That’s it! Those are the nut­shell ar­gu­ments for and against Connie Francis in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Frankly, I haven’t thought her nom­i­na­tion through, so I’m un­cer­tain as to whether or not I would vote for her.

But I’d sure have to do some thinking about it.

Should pop singer Connie Francis be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Maybe ... Click To Tweet

ConnieFrancis 1961 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is of the pho­to­genic Miss Francis from 1961 when she was a de­lec­table 23 years old.

 

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