Soundgarden, Judas Priest, Whitney Houston, Notorious B.I.G. among 2020 Rock Hall of Fame nominees

Other first-time nominees range from T. Rex and Pat Benatar to the Doobie Brothers and Thin Lizzy; San Diego drummer Matt Cameron could become two-time inductee


Soundgarden, the Dave Matthews Band, Judas Priest and Whitney Houston are among the nine first-time contenders on the list of 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees. Soundgarden’s drummer, Matt Cameron, is a San Diego native, while Judas Priest singer Rob Halford — a native of England — has been a part-time San Diego resident for several decades and owns a condo overlooking Balboa Park.

Other artists nominated for the first time include the Doobie Brothers, Motörhead, Pat Benatar, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy and The Notorious B.I.G., the sole hip-hop act to be nominated for induction into the Rock Hall’s class of 2020. Also known as Biggie Smalls (and born Christopher Wallace), the rapper was shot to death in 1997 in Los Angeles. Motörhead leader Lemmy Kilmister died of cancer in Los Angeles in 2015.
Three former members of the Doobie Brothers are also deceased, as are former members of glam-rock upstarts T. Rex, the hard-rocking Thin Lizzy and jam-band favorites the Dave Matthew Band.

The nine first-time 2020 nominees will be vying for votes with seven artists who have been on the ballot before. Those seven include Pat Benatar, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, MC5, Nine Inch Nails (whose current drummer, Ilan Rubin, is a San Diegan), Todd Rundgren and Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, who have been on the ballot three times previously. Houston and Benatar are the only new first-time female nominees on the 2020 ballot. Only 20 women artists have been inducted in total and several of those were posthumous.

All of the artists on the 2020 ballot are listed below below.

Should Soundgarden make the cut, Cameron, the band’s San Diego-bred drummer, would join the elite group of artists who have been inducted more than once into the Rock Hall. He was first inducted in 2017 as a member of Pearl Jam, the band he joined after Soundgarden broke up in 1997.

To date, only 21 artists — including Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson — have been inducted more than once. Cameron would become only the second drummer (Ringo Starr is the other) to be inducted twice.

Two other Pearl Jam members — lead singer Eddie Vedder and lead guitarist Mike McCready — are also former San Diego residents. Previous Rock Hall inductees who came of musical age in San Diego include Tom Waits, Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, The Byrds’ Chris Hillman and the late Frank Zappa. Talking Heads’ bassist Tina Weymouth was born in Coronado, but her family moved away when she was still a child.

Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after releasing their first single or album. Votes will be cast by more than 1,000 artists, historians, critics and other music-industry professionals, including this writer. Nominees are selected, according to the Rock Hall, on the basis of their “demonstrated musical excellence, musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique.”

If voted in this time around, the pioneering electronic-music group Kraftwerk — which is now on the ballot for the sixth time in the past 16 years — would become the first German act to be inducted. To date, 330 artists have been inducted into the Rock Hall since the first annual induction ceremony was held in 1986 in the ballroom of New York’s plush Waldorf Astoria hotel. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum opened in Cleveland in 1995 and now draws more than half a million visitors annually.

Some of the acts who were eligible to be nominated for the first time this year, but failed to make the cut, include Sleater-Kinney, Oasis, hip-hop maverick Nas and English trip-hop innovators Portishead.

The public can cast votes for the 2020 Rock Hall nominees online at from today through 11:59 p.m. EST on Jan. 10. The top five artists selected by the public will comprise a “fans’ ballot,” which will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2020 inductees. Fans can also vote online by going to Google and searching either “Rock Hall Fan Vote” or the name of any nominee name to cast a ballot.

It is unlikely, however, that the fan votes will tilt the election in any nominees’ favor, since — as in previous years — their votes will account for only 1 percent of the total tally.

The five artists who garner the most votes will be be announced in January and inducted in May. Those who fall short will have to hope to make the ballot again next year.

The 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held May 2, 2020, at Public Auditorium in Cleveland. It will be preceded by a week of celebratory events and the opening of the 2020 inductee exhibit at the museum. The induction ceremony is scheduled to be broadcast live on HBO and tickets to attend the ceremony will go on sale through the Rock Hall after the nominees are announced in January.

At least two of the 2020 nominees have upcoming San Diego concerts.

Pat Benatar and her husband and longtime musical partner, Neil Giraldo — who will be inducted alongside her if she is voted in — headline Friday at the Magnolia Performing Arts Center in El Cajon. Rundgren is set to perform at the same venue Dec. 8 as part of a Beatles “White Album” tribute band that also includes Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Christopher Cross, Joey Molland of Badfinger and former Chicago bassist-singer Jason Scheff, who grew up in the Point Loma area.

2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees

Pat Benatar

Dave Matthews Band

Depeche Mode

The Doobie Brothers

Whitney Houston

Judas Priest




Nine Inch Nails

The Notorious B.I.G.

Rufus featuring Chaka Khan

Todd Rundgren



Thin Lizzy