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Dolly Parton, Pat Benatar, Carly Simon lead Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2022 inductees

Lionel Richie, Eminem and Dolly Parton.
Lionel Richie, Eminem and Dolly Parton are three of the seven 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees announced Wednesday.
(Amy Harris; Joel Ryan / Invision/AP)

Other artists voted in this year include Eurythmics, Duran Duran, Eminem and Lionel Richie, while multiple nominees MC5, New York Dolls, Kate Bush, Dionne Warwick, Devo and Fela Kuti are shut out again

After decades of largely excluding women from induction, the voters of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame seem eager to help right the wrongs of the past for the second year in a row.

The seven artists announced Wednesday morning who will be inducted into the Cleveland-based hall’s class of 2022 include country music icon Dolly Parton, versatile songstress Carly Simon and the hard-rocking Pat Benatar.

Also voted in is Eurythmics, the long-dormant English duo fronted by vocal dynamo Annie Lennox and guitarist Dave Stewart. The other three 2022 inductees are Duran Duran, Eminem and Lionel Richie.

“This diverse group of inductees each had a profound impact on the sound of youth culture and helped change the course of rock and roll,” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Chairman John Sykes said in a statement. “Their music moved generations and influenced so many artists that followed.”

The 2022 honorees will be celebrated at the Nov. 5 induction ceremony and concert at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. This will mark only the third time the ceremony will take place in L.A., rather than in New York City or Cleveland. The Nov. 5 inductions will be filmed for later telecast on HBO and HBO Max.

For those doing the math, half of this year’s inductees are women. This follows the 2021 induction of Tina Turner, The Go-Go’s and Carole King, although the discrepancy between female and male artists remains pronounced.

As of 2019, women accounted for only 69 of the 888 artists then inducted into the hall. That number increased by two with 2019’s induction of Janet Jackson and Stevie Nicks, one in 2020 when Whitney Houston was posthumously inducted, and then by three last year.

The fact that women fared so much better in this year and last year’s voting is a step forward worth applauding. But it isn’t a home run.

Groundbreaking English singer and songwriter Kate Bush, who has been nominated three times, again did not make the cut this year. Neither did Dionne Warwick, who was on the ballot for the first time.

Bush, presumably, fell short because her impact in the U.S. has never equaled her impact in Europe (although the San Diego tribute group Baby Bushka is composed of young female musicians who are avowed admirers of Bush’s musical legacy).

Singing great Warwick, also presumably, was not considered a bona fide rock ‘n’ roll act by enough voters.

But neither are Simon or Parton, the latter of whom announced on March 14 that she was withdrawing her name from the ballot.

“Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” Parton posted on her social media pages, “I don’t feel that I have earned that right. I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out.”

The hall responded a few days later by declining to remove her from the ballot and issuing a statement. It read: “From its inception, Rock & Roll has had deep roots in Rhythm & Blues and Country music. It is not defined by any one genre, rather a sound that moves youth culture. Dolly Parton’s music impacted a generation of young fans and influenced countless artists that followed.”

On Friday, the deadline for ballots to be submitted, Parton announced she would accept the honor after all, should she be inducted.

But controversy over who should be inducted, and who should not, is common for the hall.

So is the outcry from myopic music fans who have loudly maintained that hip-hop artists do not merit inclusion in an institution called the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Others have denounced the hall’s reluctance to honor punk rock, progressive rock and heavy-metal artists, very few of whom have been honored since the hall’s first induction ceremony was held in 1986.

Intriguingly, veteran heavy-metal favorites Judas Priest — whose lead singer, Rob Halford, has lived in San Diego on and off for decades — will this year be honored with the Musical Excellence Award. This award comes after the band was nominated for the third time this year without earning enough votes for induction.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the Minneapolis-bred producers and songwriters who got their start performing with Prince, will also receive the Musical Excellence Award.

That category is decided by the hall’s executives and nominating committee, not by its 1,000-plus music industry voting members, which includes this writer. (Fan votes, which exceeded 5 million this year only count as a single ballot, although this year’s top vote-getters — Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, Eminem, Eurythmics and Dolly Parton — all won induction this year.)

The Musical Excellence Award also seems to be a consolation prize for artists who have appeared on the ballot before without garnering enough votes for induction. The most recent is rapper LL Cool J, who received the award last year after being nominated six times without being inducted.

It remains to be seen if the Musical Excellence Award will be bestowed to any of this year’s nominees whose multiple nominations have also not yet resulted in induction.

That list includes Bush, Devo, Afro-pop pioneer Fela Kuti, MC5, New York Dolls and Rage Against the Machine. The seminal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, which was on the ballot for the first time this year, also failed to make the cut.

There are five other artists who will be honored this year whose names did not appear on the ballot.

Genre-leaping vocal star Harry Belafonte, who turned 95 on March 1, will receive the Early Influence Award. So will pioneering folk-blues artist Elizabeth Cotten, the creator of a unique finger-picking guitar style known as “Cotten picking.” She died in 1987 at the age of either 92 or 94, depending on the source.

The Ahmet Ertegun Award, named after the co-founder of Atlantic Records, will go to three recipients this year. It honors “non-performing industry professionals who have had a major influence on the creative development and growth of rock & roll and music that has impacted youth culture.”

The Ertegun recipients include music executive Allen Grubman, whose clients have ranged from Madonna and U2 to Lady Gaga and Elton John; producer and Interscope Records founder Jimmy Iovine, who has guided albums by Tom Petty, Patti Smith and many more; and Sylvia Robinson, whose Sugar Hill Records label was a key launching pad for hip-hop in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Artists become eligible for induction into the hall 25 years after the release of their first recording under their own name. That makes Eminem the only 2022 nominee to make the ballot and earn induction in his first year of eligibility.

Factors that are considered by the nominating committee include an artist’s musical influence on other artists, the longevity of their career and the depth of their body of work, as well as their level of innovation and “superiority in style and technique.”

Does that mean Pat Benatar, who will be inducted this year, is more influential than Kate Bush, MC5 or Fela Kuti? Let the debates resume anew!


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