Prince and John Mellencamp lead the list of 2004 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They join the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, the Stooges, Jackson Browne and ZZ Top, who have been eligible in past years, but have yet to receive sufficient votes for induction.
Eligibility requires an act to have released a debut album at least twenty-five years earlier. Prince’s first record, For You was released in 1978, though he wouldn’t make his mark on the album charts until a year later with Prince. Mellencamp could have been eligible as early as 2001, but his 1976 debut, Chestnut Street Incident (released unbeknownst to him under the handle Johnny Cougar), went largely unheard in the brief time between its release and his subsequent exit from MCA. It would take Mellencamp two additional albums to break into the Top Forty with Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did (as John, rather than Johnny, Cougar) and fifteen years before he was able to reclaim his real name.
As for the returning ballot nominees, punk pioneers the Sex Pistols have been eligible for two years. While considered highly influential on subsequent acts, the band’s output of a single album, 1977’s Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, was likely considered a tripping point, considering the more prolific Ramones and Clash have both been inducted. The Stooges, also considered highly influential among later bands, were never spitting distance from the charts. The group has been eligible since 1994, and a handful of reunion dates over the past year might have improved their odds.
Ozzy Osbourne has been outspoken about Black Sabbath’s exclusion, penning a letter two years ago to ask that the band’s name be removed from the ballot. “Believe me,” he wrote, “I don’t give a fuck if I get in or not, however it’d be nice for my kids.”
Others on the new ballot include Bob Seger, Traffic, the “5” Royales and the Dells. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2004 will likely be announced in December. The ceremony is typically held in New York City in March.