No KISS. No Bruce Springsteen. No Rush. No Cars. No Moody Blues. No Jethro Tull. No Cyndi Lauper. Ho Heart. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has a habit of passing up truly legendary musicians while allowing others to slip quietly past the velvet ropes into their hallowed halls. What gives?
Each year since 1983, a nominating committee composed of rock & roll historians selects nominees in the performer category. Arists are eligible 25 years after the release of their first album. Ater the initial nominees are chosen, ballots are sent to more than 500 “rock experts” who cast their votes. Performers who receive the most votes (and more more than 50% of the vote) are then inducted.
There are a lot of artists who have been snubbed over the years, a lot of truly talented and amazing performers that have somehow just not made the cut. The one that truly baffles (and downright angers) me is Heart.
Good bands come and go. Great bands endure and thrive. I don’t think there is any argument which category sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson fall in. As I sit writing this, they are still going strong, making music, delighting fans and enjoying a career that has already spanned four decades.
Heart has sold over 30 million records worldwide, and was ranked #57 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Heart has achieved Top 10 albums on the Billboard charts in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and now 2010 with chart singles in each decade. The Wilson sisters’ four decade career makes them one of the most enduring hard rock acts of all time.
And Ann and Nancy Wilson don’t just rock in the studio (like so many popular artists who need to be sampled and remixed to actually sound decent). These women lead the band, write their own music, play instruments, and sing both lead and backup vocals. And they sound just as good whether you’re listening to one of their albums or sitting in the crowd at one of their concerts. Their music ranges from the gritty hard rock favorites like “Barracuda” and “Crazy on You” to the popular 80’s hair band hits like “Alone” to the more folksy ballads like “Dog and Butterfly” and “Hey You”.
Ann and Nancy Wilson can do it all, and they do it better than damn near everyone.
In addition to the success of the group Heart, the sisters have also achieved individual musical successes. Ann lent her voice to chart-topping motion picture themes like “Almost Paradise”from Footloose, “Best Man in the World” from Goldenchild, and “Surrender to Me”from Tequila Sunrise, while Nancy composed and performed the scores to a half dozen motion pictures including the award winning Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous.
To date, Ann and Nancy Wilson have sold more than 35 million albums, performed at sold out arenas around the world, and become one of the most recognizable hard rock groups in American pop culture. Turn on a radio, a movie, a commercial, even a video game and you’ll be hardpressed not to hear some Heart.
So tell me, why was Heart snubbed once again this year in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame voting? Probably the same reason that mediocre performers like Justin Bieber can become an overnight sensation. Sadly, true talent doesn’t sell records anymore. These days it’s more about headlines and who you know. Boy bands are slapped together by record producers and sold to impressionable preteen girls in pretty packages. Female performers are judged more on their looks and their willingness to dress in skimpy skin tight clothes than their actual musical talent. And the worst part about it is that these are the industry types who are currently in charge of the Hall of Fame nominations. If you ask me, it’s about time for a coup.
Here are a few of my personal Heart favorites. Take a listen, and then give me one good reason why these amazing women have not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
And if you need any further evidence to convince you, here are a few additional tidbits…
Select Discography:•Dreamboat Annie (1976) – 100 weeks on chart, multi-platinum selling
•Little Queen (1977) – 41 weeks on chart, multi-platinum selling
•Magazine (1978) – 25 weeks on chart, platinum selling
•Dog & Butterfly (1978) – 36 weeks on chart, multi-platinum selling
•Greatest Hits Live (1980) – 25 weeks on charts, multi-platinum selling
•Heart (1985) – 92 weeks on charts, five times platinum selling, Grammy nominated
•Bad Animals (1987) – 50 weeks on charts, three times platinum, two Grammy nominations
•Brigade (1990) – 49 weeks on the charts, multi-platinum selling, Grammy nominated
•Greatest Hits 1985-1995 (2000) – platinum selling
•Essential Heart (2002) – platinum selling
•Red Velvet Car (2010) – Top 10 entry in Billboard Magazine, September 6
Honors & Achievements:
Four GRAMMY nominations
Lifetime Achievement Award – GRAMMY Foundation Northwest Chapter
Lifetime Achievement – VH1 Rock Honors
Image Award: Lifetime Achievement for Excellence in Songwriting – ASCAP
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum – Exhibit
Electric Music Project Museum – Exhibit