‘Too Old, Too Male, Too White, Too Rich’: Inside The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s Nominating Process

Photo of GREEN DAY
Getty Image

Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of The Beatles. He’ll pay lip service to Cleveland again later this month, alongside Lou Reed, Green Day, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, among others, when he’s given the award for Award For Musical Excellence. That’s a nice way of saying, your solo material isn’t as good as John, Paul, or George’s, but you’re a Beatle. Only two people on Earth can say that, and one helped the other become a rare double Hall inductee.

The closet thing possible to a Beatles reunion these days will occur on April 18th when Paul McCartney inducts Starr into the Hall of Fame in Cleveland. McCartney says he kickstarted the process after having dinner with Robbie Robertson, who pointed out that Beatles manager Brian Epstein was in, but Ringo was not. “I said, ‘Let me see what I can do,'” says McCartney. “And I talked to Bruce Springsteen and I talked to Dave Grohl, and they both said he should be in. And I said I’d do the induction. That took care of it.” (Via)

Ringo isn’t getting in because he’s an underrated drummer; he’s being inducted, again, because McCartney and the Band’s Robertson are rich, and powerful and if they wanted Tiny Tim in the Hall, well, why not? Who’s going to say no to a f*cking Beatle? Not Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner, who rules over the nominating committee like a Pink Floyd-loving Tywin Lannister. Or at least that’s the way he comes across in a recent Billboard profile.

The Hall of Fame Foundation’s two staff members work in the offices of Wenner Media, and the foundation pays rent to Wenner Media for the space it uses. “Jann has completely taken over,” says a disillusioned committee member, pointing to Wenner’s influence on board membership and foundation employees. “He doesn’t try to rig anything, but it’s the Jann Wenner show.” Though Wenner is not on the nominating committee, it is stacked with current and former Rolling Stone writers and editors. (Via)

There are only six women and seven people of color on the 41-person committee, leading one former member to criticize them for being “too old, too male, too white, too rich.” Another adds that while it’s nice that “youngsters” like 44-year-old Questlove have been added as members, “Like anything boomer-centric, people are going to hold on to it as if their lives depend on it. You’ll have to pry the Hall of Fame from their cold, dead fingers.” It won’t come easy.

Via Billboard