why are non-rock artists in the rock & roll hall of fame?

Estimated reading time is 2 minutes.

A SERIES OF ARTICLES about Elvis Presley’s Gold Standard records has been taking up most of my time (along with redesigning the look of all my blogs). Because of that, I have been ignoring both the readers of this blog and those who salivate waiting for me to answer a question on Quora. So, why not kill two stones with one bird?

The question on Quora is “Why does the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induct members that do not play Rock and Roll?” My answer is below, between the images of the BITCHES BREW album and Miles Davis on stage.


MilesDavis BitchesBrew 600

In early 1970, Miles Davis rocked the jazz world with BITCHES BREW a two-record album, that incorporated rock instrumentation and playing along with production techniques that made this the first psychedelic-rock-like jazz album. In 1976, it was certified by the RIAA for a Gold Record Award for sales of 500,000 “units” (or 250,000 copies).

Cynical and mystical

First, please do not think that the nominators and voters of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are dumb—they are not. Keeping that in mind, I offer two answers to your question “Why does the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induct members that do not play Rock and Roll?”:

The Cynical Answer

The nominators and voters of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are simply so, so much smarter than you and I that they know they need all kinds of artists to attract all kinds of people to pay admission into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and buy souvenirs, food, etc., while there.

The Mystical Answer

The nominators and voters of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are simply so, so much smarter and hipper than you and I that we will never understand why they induct artists who do not play rock & roll artists the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Your choice as, alas, both make sense.


MilesDavis FillmoreEast 1970 1500

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is Miles Davis performing at the Fillmore East on June 18, 1970. Earlier that year, he had released BITCHES BREW, the album that kicked open the floodgate that allowed a wave of so-called fusion albums to find their way onto the turntables of thousands of dope-smoking and acid-dropping non-jazz music lovers around the country.

In 2006, Miles was the first jazz musician to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Additional reading: “8 Reasons Miles Davis is in the Rock Hall of Fame” and “A Jazz Legend Enshrined as a Rock Star?


6 thoughts on “why are non-rock artists in the rock & roll hall of fame?”

  1. Interesting theory, Neal, but if that’s true, why don’t they put more C&W people in? There’s many like Don Gibson, Arlie Duff, John D Laudermilk, Warren Smith, Hardrock Gunter, and so on, artists who actually recorded a R&R record. I think they either don’t know R&R from pop and ez-listening or they want to turn the hall into the pop music hall of fame.

    • J

      Well, now they have added Whitney Houston, bringing it closer to becoming a Pop Music Hall of Fame. What I wanna know is: If Whitney, why not Mariah and Celine? They could have inducted the three together and launched a Pop Diva Wing in the Hall.


    • Lots of country artists like Johnny Cash maybe didn’t play rock ’n’ roll
      but classic country turned into rockabilly and then into rock ’n’ roll.
      Without country guys turning up the volume and adding drums, there’d
      be no rock ’n’ roll. Read a history book on rock music.

      • The folks running the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame had the opportunity to learn from the decades’ worth of mistakes made by the mother of all halls, the Baseball Hall of Fame. They chose not to.

        If you are interested in reading about all the mistakes made by the folks at Cooperstown, I recommend reading Bill James’ The Politics of Glory: How the Baseball’s Hall of Fame Really Works (revised and republished as Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?: Baseball, Cooperstown, and the Politics of Glory.) You do not have to be a baseball aficionado to understand the book but it certainly helps.

  2. Miles is alleged to have insisted that Clive Davis market him like a rock musician and he also (again allegedly) wanted to perform at venues like the Filmore so he could appear in front of the “kids” there to see rock concerts. He was also not the headliner on many of these shows (look at the cd jacket for Neil Young’s Live At The Filmore East wherein it appears Miles is the opening act).

    The same could be said for Weather Report. Apparently (or maybe allegedly), Josef Zawinul told Columbia he wanted to call the group he and Wayne Shorter were putting together a name like a rock band would have, and that the group should be marketed like a rock band. Perhaps just a sign o’ the times!

    • M

      Thanks for the second comment!

      Miles and Weather Report and Herbie Hancock all saw their LP sales escalate dramatically when they started playing fusion and the heads and hippies tuned in, usually after they were turned on. At my very psychedelic apartment, Bitches Brew made regular appearances on my turntable, often while we were tripping.

      Still don’t think they belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.



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