Why Cheap Trick (and the Doobie Brothers, and Def Leppard, But Mostly Just Cheap Trick) Are Not In the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame"/>
Kent Winkler, Seattle Weekly's multimedia advertising director, is a proud son of Rockford, Ill. Know who else hails from Rockford? Yes, the dudes in Cheap Trick. They even named their 2006 album Rockford. Winkler's proud of Cheap Trick. He's a fan of Cheap Trick. And he recently sent a letter to the folks at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame asking why Rockford's favorite sons are not included in the Hall.
Before I get to the Rock Hall's official response, I want to offer up my reasoning: Cheap Trick, like Edgar Martinez, are borderline hall of famers. If Cheap Trick's gonna make it in, the City of Rockford has got to make more fuss about their famous sons. Rockford has yet to go all kinds of crazy in tribute for Cheap Trick. Beefaroo, a local, stepped-up version of Arby's dedicates the walls of one of their restaurants to CT, the city used the Rockford album art for vehicle registration stickers in 2006, and the Illinois Senate has declared each April 1 to be Cheap Trick Day in the state. I'm sure there are a few more shrines to their greatness, but by midwest standards--where a place of corn, a Jolly Green Giant, or a stump that Ronald Regan had a picnic on--command hundreds of miles of signage and memorials--it's shameful.
Where's Cheap Trick High School? Where's the Cheap Trick Museum? Where's the Cheap Trick Events Centre? Rockford, step it up and give your boys the push they need to get though the Hall.
Alright, here's what Terry Stewart, the president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum wrote back to Kent (full letter below):
"First of all, the only reason that Cheap Trick has not been inducted is that they did not get enough votes to date to make the final ballot. OR, upon making the ballot, they did not get enough votes. There are no conspiracies and no one has veto power."
Notice, he didn't say it would hurt if Rockford erected massive statues of the dudes in the town square. In fact, it might actually get people into downtown Rockford.
The full note Terry Stewart sent to Kent:
Thanks for your comments. We receive literally thousands of emails every year like yours about hundreds of different artists. Consequently, part of this communication is a standard response as to how the induction process works. First of all, the only reason that Cheap Trick has not been inducted is that they did not get enough votes to date to make the final ballot. OR, upon making the ballot, they did not get enough votes. There are no conspiracies and no one has veto power.
Please remember the following: Everyone personalizes everything about rock and roll when they are brought into the circle of discussion. This is another way of saying that many fans believe that their opinion is uniquely compelling and definitive. Without metrics (see below), the definition of "rock and roll," who is or was important, and who should be inducted is incredibly subjective.
As a result, our Nominating and Voting Committees are replete with Inductees (in fact, they are the largest bloc of voters). Someone has to decide, so we built our Voting Committee around the most qualified group possible: the living Inductees, which number around 400 at this time. Thus, folks like Bruce, Metallica, Clapton, Ozzy, Prince and the others are the difference makers. You may disagree, but being an Inductee makes a pretty good case for being the ones who choose.
With that overview, here's how the process works. Nomination and induction into the Hall of Fame is not about popularity, records sales, which label the group is on, or anything other than the process below. Unlike baseball, football, basketball or hockey, statistics are not relevant. To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence. We shall consider factors such as an artist's musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification for induction.
Like it or not, the evaluation of these factors is highly subjective and can only be answered by the votes of our nominators and voters. In addition, even if an artist meets the influence/impact/innovation test, it doesn't mean that they get inducted automatically. They still need to get the support of both Committees.
The entire nomination and induction process is coordinated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in New York City. Artists can be inducted in four categories: Performer, Early Influence, Non-Performer and Side-Men. The latter three are evaluated and decided by separate committees for each category.
Unlike the other three categories, the selection of Performers is a two-step process.
It begins with a Nominating Committee consisting of a diverse panel of living inductees, journalists, historians, noted musicians, industry heads, etc. In turn, those nominated are sent to a Voting Committee of about 600 people (all living inductees, journalists, historians, music industry management, musicians, etc.) around the world who vote. That said, candidates are reviewed and discussed relative to their impact, innovation and influence on this music that we broadly define as rock and roll. Gold records, number one hits, and million sellers are not appropriate standards for evaluation. Those receiving the highest number of votes and more than 50% of the votes cast are inducted into the Hall. Usually, this means five to seven new performing members each year.
Having said all this, I believe that all worthy candidates will be inducted, just not always when they or their fans deem timely. This phenomenon is not unique to us. The sports halls of fame have had many great stars that do not get inducted in their early years of eligibility or for many years to come.
Peace & Soul,
Rock & Roll!
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum