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Classic Artists Still Not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

These stars are still waiting for the induction call

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Duran Duran - 1982

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Each spring, the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame honors artists who have helped shape the legacy of popular music — and frustrates fans whose favorites didn’t make the cut. Musicians become eligible 25 years after their first album release, according to the official rules, provided they “have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.” The subjectivity of this last line has fueled debate since the first class was named in 1986. The induction committee has evolved with time to embrace a wider spectrum of music, including hip-hop and heavy metal, but the abundance of truly talented musicians has led to a long Rock Hall waiting list. Let’s take a look at some worthwhile artists who are still waiting for their call.

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Warren Zevon

Eligible since: 1994
Argument for induction: In the Seventies, Warren Zevon depicted L.A.'s rose-colored lifestyle for the transparent comedy it was. At the peak of his prowess, Zevon wrote songs possessing the wit of Randy Newman and melodic nuance of Harry Nilsson. And on 1976's eponymous debut and 1978's Excitable Boy, he penned and performed rousing and rueful songs like "Hasten Down the Wind," "Lawyers, Guns and Money" and, yes, "Werewolves of London," that could rival anything from peers Fleetwood Mac and Jackson Browne for sheer hummability. Linda Ronstadt was a devoted admirer of his work (as was David Letterman) and even infamous punk provocateur GG Allin covered "Carmelita." To anyone who loves or loathes Los Angeles, Zevon, who passed away in 2003, is one of the city's key musical mirrors. 

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Kraftwerk

Eligible since: 1995
Argument for induction: These German experimentalists were responsible for electronic music innovations that laid the foundation for entire movements in synth-pop, ambient and hip-hop music. 1974's Autobahn, 1977's Trans-Europe Express and 1981's Computer World are just three standout examples of the band's panache for finding warmth among machines (and establishing the organic potential of vocoders and sequencers). Call their music krautrock, electronic or whatever you like, but everyone from Gary Numan and Daft Punk to Afrika Bambaataa and Dr. Dre would shout out Kraftwerk's Hall bona fides.

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LL Cool J

Eligible since: 2000
Argument for induction: Championed by the Beastie Boys and given a recording shot by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons' then-fledgling Def Jam label, 17-year-old LL Cool J came through boom boxes with precocious confidence on 1985's seminal Radio. The hits didn't stop coming for the next decade, nor did the Grammys and platinum certifications. He's now as famous for his film and TV roles as he is for his music, but don't overlook the man born James Todd Smith's serious gifts as a lyricist, storyteller and style trendsetter (what's up, Kangols). 

Motorhead; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

LONDON - DECEMBER 01: British rock band Motorhead posed in Islington, London in December 1980. L-R Lemmy Kilmister, Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor, 'Fast' Eddie Clarke. (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

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Motorhead

Eligible since: 2002
Argument for induction: Speed metal, thrash metal — call it what you will — Motörhead bridged the chasm between heavy metal and punk rock in the Seventies with furious double-bass drumming and Lemmy Kilmister's thundering Rickenbacker bass. If their sales (30 million albums sold worldwide) aren't enough to earn them a spot in the elite club, Rock Hall of Famers like Metallica, Green Day and Ozzy Osbourne are quick to cite the influence of Britain's loudest trio. Kilmister's death in December 2015 would make a Motörhead induction bittersweet, but better late than never.

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Kate Bush

Eligible since: 2003
Argument for induction: This is a timely notion, given Kate Bush's recent renaissance, on the heels of 2011's acclaimed 50 Words for Snow and this year's upcoming U.K. live dates (her first run of shows in 35 years). But the English chanteuse/provocateur's re-emergence also serves as reminder of her enormously influential style and body of work. Bush's baroque 1978 debut single, "Wuthering Heights" (released when she was just 20) and 1985's LP Hounds of Love, among other works, are benchmarks in ethereal pop, but the irrefutability of her impact on younger songwriters musicians including Tori Amos, Björk, Big Boi and Joanna Newsom solidifies Bush as perhaps the quintessential modern music artiste

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The Cure

Eligible since: 2003
Argument for induction: Whether or not you hold dear the Cure's contribution to Eighties goth trends, don't conflate that with their tremendous string of quirky pop albums over that decade and the next. Their maturation from late-Seventies art punks to kings of atmospheric moroseness mirrored a generation of misfits' own coming of angst. Robert Smith and co. still release relevant records today, but even if they ceased, say, 15 years in, we'd all still be dancing to "Just Like Heaven" and "Friday I'm in Love." 

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Iron Maiden

Eligible since: 2005
Argument for induction: Fellow Hall outsiders Judas Priest can commiserate with their countrymen in Iron Maiden, who, since being formed by bassist/songwriter Steve Harris in the mid-Seventies became (and remain) the U.K.'s ultimate head-banging ambassadors. With the addition of operatically gifted vocalist Bruce Dickinson on 1982's Number of the Beast, Maiden began a legacy of twin-guitar melodies, insanely catchy falsetto hooks, punk rhythms and menacing imagery that's left a nearly Metallica-sized imprint on the genre's aesthetic. And they're still killers live. 

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Depeche Mode

Eligible since: 2006
Argument for induction: Depeche Mode's lineup has remained impressively sturdy (excepting the early departure of eventual Erasure maestro Vince Clarke and mid-Nineties exit of co-founder Alan Wilder), perhaps explaining how Depeche Mode still finds new lushly melancholy moods to channel with their synth-based constructions. The strength of their prolific first dozen years alone − counting eight albums of epic pop that could be bracing, playful, thoughtful or confrontational, and generated several quintessential singles including "Enjoy the Silence," "Just Can't Get Enough" and "Personal Jesus" − should eventually gain them entry into the Hall. 

Duran Duran; Rock and Roll hall of Fame

Duran Duran at photo studio in Tokyo, May 2, 1982. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

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Duran Duran

Eligible since: 2006
Argument for induction: They may have looked like a bunch of Zoolanders, but this gang of Brits churned out an impressive 11 Top 20 hits during the Eighties. It was a decade they helped to define with their haute couture wardrobe and groundbreaking music videos, which became mainstays on a fledgling MTV. Few artists embraced the new medium so completely, and the mutually beneficial relationship launched both into cultural prominence. Flashy visuals aside, the self-penned songs like "Rio," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Notorious" and the Bond theme "A View to a Kill" proved the band had real substance — and talent.

Janet Jackson; Rock and Roll; Hall of Fame

American singer Janet Jackson, circa 1990. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)

Tim Roney/Getty

Janet Jackson

Eligible since: 2007
Argument for induction: With 10 Number One hits, five Grammys and a chart-topping album in the past four decades, Janet Jackson has racked up a formidable list of accomplishments. But perhaps her greatest achievement is having escaped the shadow cast by her brother Michael to become a cultural force on her own terms. The 11th-best-selling female artist in U.S. history, she matched popularity with artistic ambition on Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 and Janet, and their accompanying music videos. Control, from 1986, saw Jackson take a stand for personal and professional autonomy, paving the way for future divas to own their sexuality.

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Afrika Bambaataa

Eligible since: 2008
Argument for induction: The pioneering hip-hop/electro DJ and Zulu Nation leader, born Kevin Donovan, along with Arthur Baker, had the flash of inspiration to simulate sounds from a pair of Kraftwerk tracks on their own equipment for the 1982 single "Planet Rock." Much of Afrika Bambaataa's future output leaned on the legacy of that epochal track (including "Planet Rock '98"), but the original was a future shock that launched hip-hop beyond two turntables and party jams and created a space for avant-dance and rap artists to work in harmony, presaging today's anything-goes musical landscape.

Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Slayer

Eligible since: 2008
Argument for induction: Without any substantial radio or television support over 30-plus years, Slayer has been able to headline arenas around the world and consistently sell hundreds of thousands of copies of its new albums. But the business success is secondary to the band's gift for conjuring truly blistering, godless thrash brutality. Other bands have tweaked, polished or even tried to out-heavy Slayer, but as-yet-unheard iterations of double-kick beats and grandiose, lightning-quick riffs will proudly bear their signature.

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The Smiths

Eligible since: 2009
Argument for induction: Manchester's masters of mope didn't just create a sensation across the pond. Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce also served as muse to John Hughes and a subsequent encoding of American teen confusion. The Smiths survived for merely half a decade, but 1984's self-titled LP up through 1987's Strangeways, Here We Come (along with treasured B-sides and demos) were unforgettably full of jangly might and literary bite. The ensuing rush of Brit-pop phenoms (Blur, Stone Roses et al) can be immediately sourced to the Smiths, and presently, even the most prideful punks can be heard wailing aloud for someone to please, please, please let them get what they want — short of a Smiths reunion, that is.

Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Whitney Houston

Eligible since: 2010
Argument for induction: The prematurely departed queen diva of contemporary R&B came from superlative pedigree − her mom is Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston − but distinguished herself immediately with 1985's Whitney Houston and on through 1990's L.A. Reid/Babyface-produced soul-pop classic I'm Your Baby Tonight both of which sold in the multi-millions. But Whitney Houston's preternatural vocal range was displayed most timelessly on her 1992 cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and during an unforgettable "The Star-Spangled Banner" to kick off 1991's Super Bowl during Operation Desert Storm. 

 

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