If nothing else, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame is good for starting an argument. Since it was founded in 1983, music fans have debated the selection process, the criteria, and even the definition of “rock and roll” used to decide which artists will be enshrined in Cleveland, Ohio. Every year, when the new list of singers, musicians, bands, and influencers is announced, immediately there is a reaction accompanied by lists of those who have been overlooked.
However, this isn’t one of those lists. Nope, I’m not going to talk about how ridiculous it is that Kraftwerk, John Coltrane, and Motorhead are still waiting for an invite. Nor will I rant about Tina Turner having sold 100 million albums WITHOUT Ike, yet her spot in the Hall is tied to her ex-husband.
Nope, instead, this column looks at artists who saw their bands get inducted… while they were left on the sidelines. It is one of the most frustrating aspects when looking at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, because there is no consistency in how members are selected when a band is inducted that had more than one lineup. Sometimes every member to ever appear on a record is included (Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers) other times, it is just the original lineup (KISS), and then there are cases where some get in, some don’t (Deep Purple, Ramones). There’s no rhyme or reason to the “policy” regarding who gets in.
With that in mind, here’s a few people who should have gotten inducted, and the band they should have been included with. It is doubtful the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame will ever correct these omissions… which just gives music fans another reason to be annoyed with it.
Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath
If you get really technical, there were over 40 different musicians who played in various incarnations of Black Sabbath alongside founding guitarist Tony Iommi, including touring, session, and contributing members. When the band was finally inducted in 2006, the legendary lineup of Iommi, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward were named. No one would argue with the influence this lineup and their eight studio albums had on rock music, essentially creating the genre most call heavy metal. However, there was more to the Sabbath story, as Ronnie James Dio, who stepped in after Ozzy was dismissed from Sabbath, is easily one of the most influential vocalists in rock history. The two Sabbath albums from his initial stint with the band, Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, were huge successes, and Dio would have two more stints with Sabbath in 1992 and from 2006-2010 (using the name Heaven & Hell to differentiate from the Ozzy version) further cementing his place in the history of the group. If Rod Evans and David Coverdale could be included with Deep Purple’s induction, then certainly Dio belonged in there with Sabbath. What made this exclusion even more bizarre is that Dio, Iommi, and Butler were working on music for inclusion on a Dio-era Sabbath compilation album at the same time the induction was announced and the ceremony took place.
Chances of getting in on his own: Actually, I’d say he has a solid shot. In addition to his Sabbath days, he was part of three classic Rainbow albums and had a long solo career. If the Hall Of Fame gets more serious about inducting metal artists, then eventually his name should enter the conversation.
Bill Champlin, Chicago
Name ten songs by Chicago. Chances are, “Hard Habit To Break,” “Look Away,” “I Don’t Want To Live Without Your Love” or “You’re Not Alone” are filling a few slots on the list. Those songs were part of Bill Champlin’s huge contributions to the band. While not part of the original lineup in 1969, Champlain’s involvement with Chicago (which dates back to 1981) led to some of the biggest hits of the group’s career. Following the departure of Peter Cetera, it was Champlin who kept the group on the radio and the charts. I do not doubt the talent of original member Robert Lamm, but Chicago has not had a hit, even an adult contemporary one, since Bill left the group. When you think of Chicago, the voices you hear belong to Lamm, Cetera, and Champlain. When the band was inducted in 2016, only the first lineup was put in, consisting of Cetera (who refused to appear), former drummer Danny Seraphine (who did, despite being unceremoniously dumped from the group after decades of service), the late Terry Kath, Lamm and the horn section of James Pankow, Lee Loughnane, and Walter Parazaider. Bill’s 28-year run didn’t get him included, nor was any love shown to Jason Scheff, who played with the band for 31 years (and Jason even showed up to perform with the band at the induction ceremony despite the Hall snub). While Jason only contributed to one hit with the group, what Bill added to the Chicago can’t realistically be denied (well, except by the horn section, who seem to go out of their way to disregard everyone’s contributions to the band from Cetera to Champlain to mega-producer David Foster in their interviews).
Chances of getting in on his own: He’s got an outside shot. None of his solo or band projects were very successful, but he has an amazing list of credits as a session player, and also co-wrote hits for the likes of Earth, Wind and Fire and George Benson. If the Rock Hall ever expands their inductions of contributors more, he has a shot.
Eric Carr, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, KISS
Easily the most talked-about member omissions in the history of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Why? Because when KISS finally got inducted in 2014, Paul Stanley gave numerous interviews pointing out how the Hall Of Fame was wrong not to recognize the other members of the band outside of the original lineup of Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. Simmons made sure to name all of the other members from the stage during the induction, and to this day, no solid argument other than “they only wanted the original lineup” was given. Stanley’s disdain for the Hall has been well documented (and it appears the feeling is mutual, as KISS was given a strict time limit for their induction speeches that was not enforced on others). Still, his points are solid, especially in the case of Carr and Kulick, who contributed to seven and six studio releases respectively and had a long history of success with the band. While Vincent (two albums), St. John (one album) and current members Singer (five albums) and Thayer (three albums) could be argued one way or the other, it definitely seems KISS was not afforded the luxury the Red Hot Chili Peppers (eight members), Deep Purple (eight members), and the Grateful Dead (twelve members) were given when it came to short-term former members.
Chance of getting in on their own: Slim and none. Eric Singer probably has the best chance if the Hall ever recognizes hard rock drummers as sidemen, since his resume includes not only KISS, but Alice Cooper, Lita Ford, Badlands, and other projects.
Bruce Johnston, The Beach Boys
To be honest, when I was researching this article, this one shocked me. I was sure Bruce Johnston had been inducted with the rest of the Beach Boys into the Hall Of Fame. After all, when the Rolling Stones were inducted that same year (1989) they included Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood, and pianist Ian Stewart with the original lineup. Certainly, Bruce Johnston, who had performed on 13 albums at that point, and had joined the band three years into their career (when Brian Wilson no longer wanted to tour) would have been included. However, he wasn’t, which is a head-scratcher. Not including guitarist David Marks (who lasted less than two years) or brief latter-day members Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar, I can see, but Bruce not being in there is just bizarre. The only reason I can think of him not being included is because his last name isn’t Wilson and he didn’t sing lead on as many songs as Mike Love, but by that logic, Al Jardine (who Marks briefly replaced in the group) shouldn’t have gone in either.
Chance of getting in on his own: Doubtful. He did work with Elton John and Pink Floyd and grabbed a Grammy for writing Barry Manilow’s megahit “I Write The Songs” (funny enough, Brian Wilson and Mike Love never won a Grammy for songwriting) but Johnston is seen, rightfully, as a Beach Boy. If he didn’t get in with them, he’s never going in.
Denny Carmassi & Mark Andes, Heart
Being part of the “Mark II” version of a successful group seems to bring mixed results when it comes to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Sometimes you get in (Sammy Hagar, Matt Sorum, David Coverdale & Glenn Hughes), and sometimes you don’t. Do one doubts the success of the “classic” Heart lineup of Ann & Nancy Wilson, Howard Leese, Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen, and Michael Derosier. However, when that lineup imploded (along with Nancy and Fisher’s relationship), Heart rebounded with the Wilson sisters, Leese and a new rhythm section of drummer Denny Carmassi and bassist Mark Andes. While some might deride the poppier vibe of their 80’s work at times, the simple fact is Heart had a slew of hits and played to packed arenas during this time. Carmassi and Andes deserved to be included at the induction of the band in 2013, even if the reunion of the original lineup would have overshadowed them being there.
Chances of getting in on their own: It really depends on how long it takes the Hall Of Fame to get through the backlog of deserving bands that have been waiting to get in or at least get consideration. Andes’ work with Spirit would seem to give him a shot, even if he had arguably a bigger hit with Firefall (“You Are The Woman”). Carmassi has a slew of top sessions to his credit, but will always be best known for his work with Montrose. He’s the guy who came up with the “Rock Candy” drumbeat… how can he not be in the Hall Of Fame?