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

Estimated reading time is 4 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 800
Connie Francis’ first album Who’s Sorry Now (MGM E03686) was released in early 1958. There is little on it that indicates that she would be rocking and rolling on future singles and nothing that would make future members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee take her seriously. 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 songs 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!

 

ConnieFrancis MyHappines PS 800
Connie Francis had been an MGM recording artist for almost four years, had recorded more than a dozen singles, and had four Top 40 hits before MGM shelled out for a picture sleeve for her latest release. Maybe it helped as My Happiness reached #2 on both the Billboard and Cash Box pop charts!

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 duet with Marvin Rainwater on The Majesty Of Love, an odd combination of country & western and doo-wop.

 

ConnieFrancie VeryBest SE 4167 800
Despite ten years worth of hits and being one of the biggest-selling female singers in the world, Connie Francis’ only RIAA Gold Record was awarded to her in 1969 for The Very Best Of Connie Francis (MGM SE-4167) released in 1968.

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.

 

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.

 


 

23 thoughts on “should connie francis be in the rock & roll hall of fame?”

  1. This one’s simple for me. By the standards that have been set across more than thirty years of inductions, Connie should be in the Hall (though it would probably take a Veteran’s Committee, which the Hall has never had, to put her there). There’s no way Little Anthony or solo George and Ringo meant more to the History of Rock and Roll than she did.

    One thing that convinced me is listening to the oldies’ packages that play in my local good diner that opened about a year and a half ago.....Hearing her in that context, including her ballads, I can say that she fits in with Fats and Chuck and Elvis a lot more smoothly than I would have imagined in the abstract, which is where I previously had to imagine it. Has me thinking I need to re-acquire her box set too!

    JWR

    Reply
    • JWR

      The Hall has been very willing to embrace post-Beatles artists with modest claims to the Rock & Roll Pantheon.

      The Hall has been rather hesitant (if not actually reluctant) to induct pre-Beatles artists.

      I don’t see this changing dramatically in the near future.

      Aside from bitching and moaning (at which, I admit, I’ve been getting good at), there’s not much we can do about it.

      N

      PS: Glad to hear you’ve been hearing Connie in the proper context. Me, I’m a sucker for Who’s Sorry Now and My Happiness.

      Reply
    • PS: Like the idea of a Veterans Committee, except that historically such committees in Cooperstown have made the poorest selections, inducting cronies and drinking buddies rather than overlooked players of quality. And any such committee in Cleveland would probably be handpicked by Wenner ...

      Reply
    • Connie definitely should be in simply because she opened the doors to females. She really was the first female mega star of the new era, she had the first rock and roll million seller in Stupid Cupid, and she was the first female to have a number 1 and the first female to have back to back number 1s on the Hot 100 Billboard chart, and she was the first female to control her career. all this in addition to all of the sales and gold records.

      Reply
      • Before many of today’s stars were even born, there was Connie Francis. She was also prolific on other countries’ charts and she opened the doors to today’s female stars.

        Yes, her performance on the charts suffered in the mid-’60s, but so did many other stars (including Elvis).

        She deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before anybody from American Idol or any of the other star machines that are around now.

        Connie Francis for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2021!

        Reply
    • Yes she should be. Along with Dusty and Brenda Lee she was one of the female bigs. Why do these women have to wait so long?

      Reply
    • As to my opinion of the artist Connie Francis, she should have been in the Hall many years ago! There’ll never be another Connie Francis—her sound will never happen again! And if the Hall of Fame finds some integrity, they should make it right before she passes away.

      Reply
  2. Well all “committees” are prone to cronyism....The hard question is this: Is it worth the risk of lowering the standards a bit more it to help the chances of the overlooked and deserving?

    No easy answer, but, where rock and roll is concerned (and maybe baseball too), I lean toward the broadest definition of acceptance possible and I’d rather see the dozen or so acts from the fifties/sixties I think really belong in, even it if risks putting in an additional dozen who I don’t think deserve it, than keep everybody out (which, as you say, is the strong likelihood with the way things stand now.

    One thing the Hall has been pretty good about is evolving their categories to fit the idea of an inclusive Hall....

    So a Veteran’s Committee and a Contemporary Influence category (where Miles Davis, Joan Baez and others would have fit nicely) to supplement the Early Influence category are still real possibilities...

    One can hope!

    Reply
    • JWR

      Alas, I’m being utopic on this topic: I want them to get rid of the emotionally-stunted on the nominating and voting committees and replace them with something resembling adults. I know there are adults who love rock and soul and pop music — Hell’s Belles, i even know a few adult record collectors!

      Then these adults can come up with a working definition of rock & roll (it’s not that difficult) and then working parameters for eligibility in the Hall that have some foundation on objectivity, such as:

      • Top 40 hits (especially for ’50s and ’60s artists)
      • RIAA Gold Record Awards (not so important pre-1970)
      • units sold (relative to the market each artists worked in)

      Yada yoda blah blah blah.

      You’re take on the Hall and possible committees in the comment above is admirably pragmatic, which given the emotional IQ of the Hall of Fame, is perhaps even more utopic than mine ...

      N

      Reply
  3. The Hall and its members along with the Officers of the Board should be ashamed of themselves for not putting Connie Francis in there years and years ago. She is still alive and it’s not too late, but I suppose they are going to let her pass before anything of any substance is done about it.

    I cannot think of anyone that deserves to be in there more than Connie Francis [but] who do they put in there—Dolly Parton! Dolly is talented and a great performer but she doesn’t even come close to Connie! I cannot believe the Board and the members do not see this.

    Let me tell you, if I was on the Committee or an inductee, I would refuse to accept my award until Connie Francis was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    RIGHT IS RIGHT AND THIS IS TOTALLY RIGHT, PERIOD !!!

    Reply
    • JEFFREY

      Thanks for the comment!

      Connie is only 84-years-old, so there is still plenty of time for her to record a grunge album, a hip-hop album, and maybe a fusion album to add to her vast catalog. Maybe that would attract the attention of the Hall.

      Keep on keepin’ on!

      NEAL

      Reply
    • I agree with you, Ken: Cher belongs in the HoF. And I say that although I am not much of a fan. (Except for a few of the early singles: especially “Baby Don’t Go” and “I Got You Babe.”) (And her amazing acting.)

      I would not suggest holding your breath waiting for the nominators to get woke.

      Hah! I had to look up “CYA.”

      Reply

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