Rock Hall Snubs: Eligible in the 1970s

Welcome to the start of the list of potential snubs from the Rock Hall, covering artists eligible in the 1970s. I have listed ten artists here, seven of which I believe will get in someday. Two of the artists should be in already. Maybe you don’t like early rock n’ roll, but you should at least check out The Clovers – my favorite on this list. And strap in, gang, the list only grows from here!

Big Mama Thornton (real name Willie Mae Thornton) Genre(s): Blues, R&B Odds of Induction: Should Be In Already
Big Mama Thornton released her first recording, the famous tune “Hound Dog” – that most think is an Elvis original – in 1952, making her eligible for the Hall in 1978. An influential figure in the realm of blues, many of her songs have become staples of the genre. She also influenced Janis Joplin, among others. Her lack of recognition has been well-documented and her induction into the Rock Hall is well past-due.

Photo of a Big Mama Thornton record. By Kevin Dooley, courtesy of Flickr.

Roy Brown Genre(s): Blues, R&B, Rock n’ Roll Odds of Induction: High
Roy Brown appears to have had his first commercial releases in 1947, making him technically eligible for the Hall in 1973 (the first inductions were in 1986). Best known for his songs “Butcher Pete, part 1” and “Good Rockin Tonight” (Wynonie Harris’ version is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock n’ Roll), Brown’s singing style influenced B.B. King, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and Little Richard – among others. Brown also had career longevity in addition to popular songs and influence, releasing music consistently until 1972. Already in the Blues Hall of Fame, Brown deserves induction in the Rock Hall.

The Clovers Genre(s): R&B, Doo-wop, Rock n’ Roll Odds of Induction: Medium
The Clovers appear to have had their first commercial releases in 1950, making them technically eligible for the Hall in 1976. Best known for the songs “Love Potion No. 9” and “Devil or Angel,” the Clovers influenced other R&B, Rock n’ Roll, and vocal groups in the 1950s and 1960s. Already in the Vocal Group, Doo Wop, and R&B Music Hall of Fames, The Clovers fill a hole of missing vocal groups in the Rock Hall.

The Dominoes (also known as Billy Ward and His Dominoes) Genre(s): R&B, Doo-wop Odds of Induction: Low
The Dominoes appear to have had their first commercial releases in 1951, making them technically eligible for the Hall in 1977. Best known for the song “Sixty Minute Man,” one of the Rock Hall’s Songs That Shaped Rock n’ Roll, The Dominoes charted consistently on the R&B chart through 1958. “Sixty Minute Man” featured the lyrics and tempo of early Rock n’ Roll and is considered one of the first songs of the genre. Already in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, The Dominoes fill a hole of missing vocal groups in the Rock Hall.

Wynonie Harris Genre(s): R&B, Rock n’ Roll Odds of Induction: Should Be In Already
Wynonie Harris had his first commercial release with Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra in 1944 and his first solo release in 1948. Best known for “Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well” with the aforementioned orchestra, his cover of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (the first solo release), and “All She Wants to Do Is Rock,” Harris is considered a Founding-Father-type figure in Rock n’ Roll music. He influenced many artists with his voice and stage gyrations, but none more so than Elvis Presley, whom Harris’ manager called “a mild version of Wynonie.” There is no reason, outside of extraordinary controversy (of which none exist), that one of the founders of the genre should not be in the Hall.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (real name Jalacy Hawkins) Genre(s): R&B, Rock n’ Roll, Blues, Shock Rock Odds of Induction: Medium
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins released his first single in 1953, making him eligible for the Hall in 1979. Mostly known for his hit “I Put A Spell On You,” Hawkins’ case for induction rests with his on-stage performing, wardrobe, and antics. He was a pioneer of Shock Rock (rock music with theatrical performing and based in shock value), influencing Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, and many others.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in Switzerland, ca. 1998-1999. Photo by Memi Beltrame, courtesy of Flickr.

Guitar Slim (real name Eddie Jones) Genre(s): Blues, Rock n’ Roll Odds of Induction: High
Guitar Slim appears to have his first commercial release circa 1951 or 1952, making him eligible for the Hall well before it was formed. Jones’ career lacks longevity, as he died at just 32, but his influence is undeniable – a list that includes Ray Charles, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Most notably, these artists were influenced by Jones’ experimentation with guitar distortion, which has shaped Rock music beyond measure. Guitar Slim’s song “The Things That I Used to Do” is one of the Hall’s Songs That Shaped Rock n’ Roll.

Chuck Willis Genre(s): R&B, Rock n’ Roll Odds of Induction: Medium
Chuck Willis had his first commercial release in 1951, making him technically eligible for the Hall in 1977. Willis also died at just 32, leaving him without a robust discography. However, Willis consistently charted during his short career, and many of his songs influenced a large number of artists to make their own versions. He is best known for his version of the song “C.C. Rider” and for the song “What Am I Living For” – released just before his death. He has made the Hall’s ballot six times without getting in.

Billy Wright Genre(s): Blues, R&B Odds of Induction: Slim
Billy Wright had his first commercial release in 1949, making him technically eligible for the Hall in 1975. Wright has a limited discography and only released music through 1959, but he was a major influence on Rock n’ Roll legend Little Richard in both music and dress. Wright was also openly gay, representation of which is lacking in the Hall.

Check out the next article in the series: artists eligible from 1980 through 1985!

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