A Breakdown Of All The Bands That Should Be In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Getty Image

To celebrate the airing of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction this Saturday, 4/29, we’re running a series of essays and feature analyzing and highlighting the implications of who was inducted in 2017.

One of the perks of getting inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is that, come the night of the ceremony, you’re afforded uninterruptible time at a podium to give an endorsement to other artists that you’d like to see get in after you. Normally, you’ll get a shoutout of maybe one to five names during an already lagging speech, but for someone like Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, who has a list a mile long of different rockers, new wavers and punk icons that he’d like to see join him in that oddly-shaped museum in Cleveland, one to five names wasn’t going to cut it.

Ament could’ve spend 20 minutes rattling off his entire list and risked angering the organizers, the fellow inductees and the fans that came out for this year’s ceremony, but no. He decided to get way more creative and wore a custom-made t-shirt with all their names printed on the front. In terms of genius, it ranks right up there with Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson’s famed “blah-blah,” speech.

Emblazoned across the bass player’s chest was a catalog of 94 different bands, artists and designers, separated by a super-classy screen-printed tie. Given that the Hall has only managed to induct a little over 300 people in the last 30 years, it’s hard to say which of the names is the most deserving at this point, but there’s a compelling case to be made for each entry on Ament’s list. While I personally think he could’ve added a rapper or two, to the mix — both Biggie and OutKast are eligible for induction next year, just saying — this is as good a starting point as any to begin thinking about who should be honored next year.

Here are the cases to be made for why every single one of Ament’s selections should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ordered as they appeared on his t-shirt.

Brian Eno
Eno pioneered the field of ambient and electronic music. He also helped create generational albums with both David Bowie and U2 like Low and The Joshua Tree.

Your hipster friend’s favorite vintage band, Can were one of the biggest pioneers of the ‘70s krautrock movement. Their penchant for improvisation and the avant-garde placed them at the forefront of what was happening in music throughout that era.

Faith No More
If The Red Hot Chili Peppers are in the Hall of Fame, then there’s no reason Faith No More shouldn’t be in too.

Three words: Reign. In. Blood.

Scions of the Iggy Pop school of punk, Flipper is one of those obscure bands that your favorite only slightly-obscure band from the late-‘80s and ‘90s immediately cite as an influence to garner cool points. Would dramatically up the cool-quotient of the Hall by their induction.

Gang of Four
If they only ever recorded and released Entertainment! then called it a day after 1980, they’d still be worthy of consideration.

Guided By Voices
25, gritty, lo-fi studio albums released since 1987, but it’s Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes where Robert Pollard and company put it all together and helped launch a thousand new garage rock groups.

Motley Crue

The music was good, but it was the offstage debauchery that cemented their rock-godliness. Bassist Nicki Sixx actually died once, got brought back to life and wrote a phenomenal song about the experience “Kickstart My Heart.” What more do they need to do???

Jane’s Addiction
Not quite grunge, not quite Guns N’ Roses either, Jane’s Addiction were Alt-Rock tweeners who went down right as the revolution they helped spawn during that first Lollapalooza tour in 1991 took over the world. They paved the way for everything that came afterwards. Also, “Mountain Song” rules.

Joe Jackson
People like schlock right?

Jonathan Richman
Interesting that Jeff decided to go with Richman over his band the Modern Lovers. Wait, are the Modern Lovers already in? (Does quick scan) Nope. Interesting that Jeff decided to go with Richman over the Modern Lovers.

Kate Bush

Kate Bush is an ethereal Goddess. “Running Up That Hill” is one of the best songs of the entire 1980s. We also might get her first-ever live performance in America out of the deal, so, there’s that too.

Quality over quantity. Love weren’t around for long, but the Arthur Lee-led band made the most of their time together. Jim Morrison idolized them, and their album Forever Changes is a peak document of the late-‘60s Hollywood psychedelic-era.

Lenny Kravitz
This one’s tough. Lenny might need to wait a long while before he makes it in. Still, “Fly Away,” is a jam, and nothing can ever take that away from him.

King Diamond

Minor Threat
Progenitors of the DC hardcore punk scene in the 1980s. Progenitors of the straight edge movement. Launching pad for Ian MacKaye and all his good deeds.

The Monkees
But they didn’t write their own songs! Well they did eventually, and sold 75 million records along the way. They also took Jimi Hendrix out on his first tour of the U.S…. that didn’t go so well, actually.


Boy, would’ve been great had they gotten around to Motorhead before Lemmy died in 2015. Oh, well. Pour out a bottle Jack Daniels, crank up “Ace Of Spades,” and tell me this band doesn’t belong.

Nick Cave
Part goth, part shaman, part bluesman, all genius. Nick Cave has put together one of the most impressive and diverse careers of any artists over the last 30 years. His last record Skeleton Tree — and its corresponding film — was one of the best releases of 2016.

Nina Simone
Nina Simone had more talent in her little pinky than most musicians contain in their entire being. Her incredible voice was only matched by her virtuosic piano chops. You know what, if you haven’t already, stop reading this and go and listen to Nina Simone At Carnegie Hall. Then you’ll understand.

Richard Hell

Hell was once a member of the iconic New York group Television –- don’t think I didn’t notice their absence on your shirt Jeff! -– before writing and recording the clarion call for all late ‘70s disaffected punk rock youth “Blank Generation.”

For a good two years, Marc Bolan was the ultimate rock star ideal. No looked better holding a guitar and singing into a microphone. The ultimate “20th Century Boy.”

The Sonics
From the soaking, musty confines of the Pacific Northwest comes one of the most violent, vile, nasty garage rock bands of the 1960s. The Sonics wrote loud, nasty music with titles like “Strychnine,” “Psycho,” and “The Witch.” They were Nirvana decades before Nirvana existed.


Speaking of the Pacific Northwest, it kind of feels like in a vacuum Soundgarden might have gotten in already, but the Hall voters refused them entry until after Pearl Jam and Nirvana got the nod. This should get cleared up soon.

Not a musician, but an album art designer. Made the covers for such iconic records like The Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd and Houses Of The Holy by Led Zeppelin. A prime candidate for the non-performer category.

Thin Lizzy
I could cite “Jailbreak.” I could cite “The Boys Are Back In Town.” The most convincing argument however, is the 1978 album Live And Dangerous.

Dead Kennedys
Jello Biafra for President!

Would Goth rock even be a thing without Bauhaus?

Black Flag
The greatest hardcore band of all-time. Worth it just to hear Henry Rollins’ speech. Do you think he’d deliver it shirt on or shirt off?

Bon Jovi
Journey paved the way. Bon Jovi should get in, preferably more alive than dead.

Smashing Pumpkins

Siamese Dream is a masterpiece. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is a sprawling masterpiece. The two Machina records were meh. Still, the second and third Pumpkins album guarantee them immortality.

Another Ian MacKaye band, and for my money, the better of the two between Minor Threat. Look, Donald Trump is President. These are the facts. You know what might help us deal with this terrible situation though? If one of the most badass, socially conscious punk rock bands of all-time made a comeback. Maybe the rock hall is the spark that couldn’t make it happen? Probably not, but I can dream…

You know how amazing Dio is? He took over as the lead singer of Black Sabbath after they kicked Ozzy Osbourne out of the band and it didn’t suck. That should at least get you a look right?

Elliott Smith

When you written songs as heart-twistingly powerful as “Between The Bars,” “Needle And The Hay,” “Miss Misery,” or “Can’t Make A Sound,” you deserve to be honored for it.

New Order
Better than Joy Division? Probably not, but still worthy.

Tom Waits
Tom is already in, so, congrats Jeff!

The Jam
At a time when the Clash were supposedly the hottest thing happening in England, Mod-Rock revivalists the Jam were the ones busy racking away four different No. 1 hits in the space of less than two years.

The Smiths
If the Hall is gunning for a nice reunion moment, this is probably a stay-away. I think Morrissey would rather have a steak dinner with Margret Thatcher than share a stage with his Smiths bandmates again. Still, they are one of the most important and impactful rock bands of the 1980s. Countless indie rock groups have been inspired by the jangly sound of Marr’s guitar married with Moz’s forlorn lyrics.

Todd Rundgren
Reasons Todd Rundgren should go into the Hall of Fame? Trying to think of Something…Anything?

The MC5

Kick out the jams Motherf*cker!

Captain Beefheart
Frank Zappa shouldn’t be the only beguiling, 1960s Hippie freak in the Hall.

Weather Report
An outstanding jazz fusion outfit with a more confusing member history than even Deep Purple. Still, it’d be nice for Wayne Shorter to be recognized. It also make sense for a bass player to champion Jaco Pastorious.

Harry Nilsson
Nilsson Schmilsson I say.


More than just a group of dudes who wore funny red hats in the “Whip It” video, Devo were one of the earliest, most omnipresent forces of synth-driven, new wave pop. I’ve got a “Gut Feeling” that they’ll make it in next year… I’ll see myself out.

Never realized Jeff Ament was so into krautrock. Neu! Really pushed the definition of “music” to its absolute, abstract limits.

Raymond Pettibon
Like Hipgnonis, Raymond Pettibon was an album art designer and a damn good one! Single-handedly responsible for crafting the covers and posters for many of the SST punk and hardcore bands in 1980s.

The Buzzcocks
Ever fallen in love (with a band you shouldn’t’ve?) Me too.

The Cars

While I’m still a little agitated with how Ric Okasek handled the whole Car Seat Headrest sample issue last year, “Moving In Stereo” is a bop.

Fela Kuti
You know that line on “Skepta Interlude” from the Drake project More Life when Skepta raps, “P***yholes tried to execute me / Died and came back as Fela Kuti.” That line is hard as f*ck! Fela Kuti himself was also hard as f*ck.

Alice In Chains
Kind of in the same situation as Soundgarden, just biding their time while Nirvana and Pearl Jam go in first. RIP Layne Staley.

Grand Funk Railroad
You know how everyone makes a huge deal about the Beatles selling out Shea Stadium in 1965? Grand Funk Railroad did the same thing in 1971, only their tickets went even faster.

Husker Du
Bob Mould, Greg Norton and Grant Hart seems to be on good terms these days and I honestly think if they got in, we might here “Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely” or “Something I Learned Today” live once again. What more reason do you need than that?

Iron Maiden
If you vote in Iron Maiden, I’m pretty sure Bruce Dickinson would be open to personally flying the rest of the class in on their Ed Force One jet. Save a little bit on airfare you know?

The New York Dolls

How are the New York Dolls not in already? This is an easy one. Their 1973 self-titled debut is untouchable.

The B-52s
I just want to watch them make the sea-life noises during “Rock Lobster” while Billy Corgan sneers disapprovingly in the audience.

King Crimson
How many drummers do you think Robert Fripp can wrangle onto the stage for their induction? Their bringing four on their upcoming tour of the US., but I think they can squeeze in one more.

Duran Duran
Duran Duran have earned just about every other honor around the sun. It’s high time to start thinking about their Rock Hall inclusion as well.

The Cult
The perfect distillation of pop melodies and metal riffs. Ian Astbury might be one of the 10 best singers on the planet too.

Dinosaur Jr.
One of the few bands from their era still making vibrant music. J. Mascis is the definitive slacker guitar hero and their 1987 record You’re Living All Over Me remains an indisputable classic.

The Minutemen
It’d be a totally mersh scene, but whatever.

The Misfits

If you’re factoring in t-shirt and memorabilia sales alone, these New York horror rockers would’ve been inducted ages ago.

The only sound bigger than Leslie West’s guitar is his hurricane-force voice. Turned in one of the best pure performances of the entire Woodstock Festival back in 1969 as well.

Every grunge band you love owes a debt of gratitude to Mudhoney. Extra points for popularizing the EHX Big Muff Pi fuzz pedal which has been on my board for years.

Nine Inch Nails

Personal admission: Of all the entries on this list, Nine Inch Nails is the one I’d advocate hardest for. Trent Reznor in all his many forms bridged the gap between alt-rock, industrial, goth and new wave, while creating some of the greatest album ever recorded, including The Downward Spiral and The Fragile.

PJ Harvey
Three words: Rid. Of. Me.

Judas Priest
50 million album sold and the kings of the new wave of British heady metal. Put the Priest in or you’ve got another thing comin’.

Easy Rider would’ve been a totally different film if not for the musical contributions of Steppenwolf. Far, far less cool. “Take the world in a love embrace,” Rock Hall voters.

The Damned
The first British punk band to release a single, “New Rose. The first British punk band to release a full-length album the self-titled Damned. And, the first British punk band to break up and get back together again.

The Waterboys
Innovators of “The Big Music.” Does the Hall have any other Scottish entrants? Wait, Jack Bruce from Cream was Scottish? Huh, learn something new every day.

Bad Brains
These DC punk legends were on the ballot this year and denied by the larger voting pool. I’m not saying they were wrong, because who would you bounce out from this class, but, c’mon, do them the honors next year yeah? H.R. just had literal brain surgery.

The Replacements

Few bands more embodied the wild heart of rock and roll to the degree of the Mats. They used to literally set their touring per diem on fire just to watch it burn. Let It Be is one of the greatest albums ever written, maybe even better than the Beatles’ work by the same name.

The Pixies
You know that scene at the end of Fight Club when all the buildings come crashing down and “Where Is My Mind?” starts playing? God, I love that scene.

Big Star
Hey, rock hall voters, let Big Star in okay? “If it’s so then let me know / If it’s no then l can go / I won’t make you.”

Billy Idol
Billy Idol stole my heart the minute he stepped out of first class on that flight with Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer. I’m not saying he was robbed of an Oscar that year, but this would really help take the sting out of that particular oversight.

Still pushing the envelope. Still striving. Still creating. You know you wanna gawk at her swan dress behind an inch of plexiglass.

Blue Oyster Cult

Put “Don’t Fear The Reaper” aside for a second, throw on “Godzilla,” and tell me this band doesn’t belong. Would be great if rock writer Richard Meltzer who wrote a ton of their lyrics went in with them too. Maybe he could be the inductor?

Based on how the Sex Pistols handled their induction, I wouldn’t bank on Johnny Rotten making an appearance and giving a speech any time soon, but that shouldn’t stop the committee from bringing them up at the next meeting.

The Melvins
Pioneers of grunge. Pioneers of sludge. Hair style icons.

The Psychedelic Furs
They already inspired the title of a John Hughes movie, Pretty In Pink, back in the ’80s, so I don’t know that they really need the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Would be nice though.

Long before Guns N’ Roses hit the scene, no one captured Southern California’s grim, hollow underbelly more captivatingly than X. Their blend of punk and rockabilly was totally visionary.


Have you heard guitarist Paul Kossoff’s vibrato skills? All right now. I rest my case.

Emerson Lake & Palmer
Would’ve been nice had this happened before bother Emerson and Lake died last year. They deserve to be honored for they way melded old school, folk sensibilities with new Moog-painted textures. “From The Beginning” is a forever jam.

The Descendents
The Descendents are one of the all-time great L.A. punk bands who created hard, fast and melodic rock and roll better than anyone this side of the Ramones.

Wow, Jeff Ament might be the biggest krautrock fan on the planet.

Ted Nugent
You know what? Nah.

The Cure
If it would make singer Robert Smith happy, I think we all owe it to him.

Warren Zevon
Because David Letterman said so, that’s why!

Link Wray

He didn’t necessarily invent the power chord, but definitely helped popularize it. “Rumble” is gritty, vibrato-drenched masterpiece.

The Flaming Lips
Beyond their records, the Flaming Lips brought a level of whimsy and spectacle to their live shows that set a bar that many bands are still trying to jump over.

Nick Drake
Brilliant, affecting songwriting, gorgeous sparse melodies; Pink Moon in particular is a stunning work of deep melancholia tinged with the perfect sliver of optimism to get you through it all.

“Ballroom Blitz” baby!


The peak Britpop band (Sorry Blur fans). Oasis needs a Rock Hall induction if only for the entertainment value of putting the two Gallagher brothers back in the same room together again. The months of pre-ceremony interviews would be priceless!

Bad Company
Singer Paul Rodgers second appearance on this list after Free. If you think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be about actual rock and roll, then you could do a lot worse than Bad Company. I still ride for “Ready For Love.”

Chad Channing
Nirvana’s Bleach-era drummer. Should’ve been inducted along with the rest of the band back in 2014. Time for a correction to the record.