CLEVELAND — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame released its nominees for the Class of 2021. Among the notable names are Jay-Z, the Foo Fighters, Chaka Khan and Tina Turner.
However, it seems each year, there is as much conversation about who isn't on the list of nominees as those who are actually nominated.
While music is no doubt subjective, here are 10 artists who are no doubt qualified for enshrinement, especially considering some of the artists who made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before them.
Editor's Note: This list is subjective with a major focus on older artists who have been eligible for enshrinement for several years, yet have been passed over. There are two artists on this list who are already in the Hall as members of bands, but not as individuals. Those nominated this year's class are also not eligible for this list.
Notable Work: "I'll Be There" "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" "One of a Kind (Love Affair)"
For fans of soul music, the Spinners are quite simply one of the greatest groups of all-time. Beginning in 1954, the Spinners scored their first major hit at Motown with the Stevie Wonder penned "It's a Shame." Yet, the group achieved their peak when they moved to Atlantic Records, reportedly at the urging of Aretha Franklin.
With Atlantic, the Spinners scored a run of hits, including six R&B chart toppers with songs like "I'll Be There," "Rubberband Man," and "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love." The Spinners had a number 1 pop hit with "Then Came You," a duet with R&B legend and 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee Dionne Warwick.
The group were known for their tight harmonies and featured a distinctive sound that separated them from other groups of the era like the Temptations or O'Jays. That sound came from their dynamic producer Thom Bell and the talents of lead singers Bobbie Smith and Philippé Wynne. Notable examples of their sound can be heard on songs like "One of a King (Love Affair)" and "Mighty Love."
The Spinners were nominated three times for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, 2014 and 2015, but have yet to be inducted.
Jan & Dean
Notable Work: "Surf City" "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" "Dead Man's Curve"
Often labeled as the "other Beach Boys," for a brief period of time, Jan & Dean was one of the top acts in the early 1960's. Jan Berry and Dean Torrence began singing together in high school and scored their first hit together with 1959's "Baby Talk," peaking at No. 10. The duo focused on doo-wop until they met Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, who encouraged them to try their hand at the burgeoning vocal surf genre.
Their first surf song, 1963's "Surf City," became the first surf song to reach No. 1 on the charts. Following that, the duo had a steady stream of hits in the early to mid-1960's, which culminated in Jan & Dean hosting the TAMI Show, one of the earliest rock shows in history.
Jan & Dean also were known for their persona that included silly antics and being an early anti-establishment act. They also made several novelty songs into pop hits, including "Schlock Rod" and one of the longest song names ever: "The Anaheim Azusa and Cucamonga Sewing Circle Book Review and Timing Association."
Their career was cut short after Berry was involved in a devastating crash that nearly took his life in 1966. In one of rock's greatest coincidences, the crash was a short distance from LA's Dead Man's Curve, the setting of Jan & Dean's hit song of the same name where the narrator nearly loses his life in a crash.
Notable Work: "Super Freak" "Mary Jane" "Give It To Me Baby"
If you look through the inductees in the inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, funk is one of the often overlooked subgenres. In fact, Parliament-Funkadelic is the only primarily funk artist in the Hall, though James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone also performed funk. But the lack of funk in the Hall is not the only reason Rick James should be in inducted.
Beginning his career in the mid-60's, James hit his commercial peak in the late 70's and early 80's. Signed to the legendary Motown Records, James' success helped revive the struggling company and give a new generation of fans a very different Motown sound. His songs featured risque themes while his fashion and persona perfectly fit with the flashy culture of the era.
In addition to his music as a solo artist, Rick James scored classic hits with Teena Marie ("Fire and Desire") and the Temptations ("Super Freak," "Standing on the Top"). Though he never reached the top spot on the pop charts, James has several number one hits on both the R&B and Billboard charts.
Despite his legal trouble and drug abuse, Rick James would see a brief resurgence of his career after a famous appearance in a popular "Chapelle's Show" sketch that introduced him to an entirely new audience until his death a short time later.
Notable Work: "Then He Kissed Me" "Da Doo Ron Ron" "He's a Rebel"
The Crystals are the embodiment of the early 60's girl group. Formed in 1961, the group was one of many under the direction of legendary producer Phil Spector. Together with Spector, the Crystals became one of the most popular female acts of their time.
The Crystals scored their first hit in 1961 with "Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby." At the time, the girls were in high school and came to the studio while still wearing their prom dresses. A follow-up hit, "Uptown" gave the group their first top 20 hit.
The Crystals would go on to score several more hits including "Da Doo Ron Ron," considered to be on of the ultimate girl group songs of the early 60's, and "Then He Kissed Me," a song prominently featured in the famous steadicam scene in the Martin Scorsese classic "Goodfellas."
Ironically, their only number one record was not actually recorded by the Crystals. Due to the group being based in New York and Phil Spector being based in LA, "He's a Rebel" was recorded by the Darlene Love-led Blossoms but released under the Crystals name to capitalize on the group's popularity.
Still, their influence can be soon to most groups that followed in their footsteps, particularly at Motown where the Crystals helped inspire the success the Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas.
Notable Work: "Rocky Mountain Way" "Life's Been Good" "Funk #49"
Walsh is the first of two artists on this list already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of a group. Yet despite having his greatest success as a member of the Eagles, Walsh had a long career of successful music both before and after his time with the band.
Known as the Clown Prince of Rock and Roll, he began his career with the James Gang, whose hit song "Funk #49" would show off his distinctive guitar playing skills that would ultimately make him a legend. After a brief stint with the band Barnstorm, Walsh famously joined the Eagles in 1975. Yet he kept a focus on his solo career, including his biggest hit "Life's Been Good."
Walsh is consistently ranked among the one of the best guitarists the era, earning praise from Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend and Jimmy Page.
In addition to solo career and his stints with the James Gang and Eagles, Walsh spent many years playing alongside several music legends including B.B. King, Graham Nash, Rod Stewart and Ringo Starr.
Notable Work: "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" "Love Train" "If You Don't Know Me By Now"
During the 1970's, Philly Soul became one of the most often played sub-genres of music in dance clubs around the country. While some of the names featured on the records have become R&B legends like the O'Jays, Herold Melvin and the Blue Notes and the Three Degrees, the names of musicians who gave the music its iconic groove are largely forgotten.
Like the Funk Brothers in Motown and the Wrecking Crew in LA, MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother) was a group of session musicians playing backing tracks for Philadelphia International Records. Among the classic songs MFSB played on are "Love Train" by the O'Jays, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Herold Melvin and the Blue Notes, "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul and "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" by Lou Rawls.
Yet, unlike other session musicians, MFSB actively recorded and released material under their own name. Most notably would be "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)," a 1974 chart-topping hit that helped to usher in the dance music that would define the decade. However, the song is most well-known as the theme song for the long running R&B-themed TV show "Soul Train."
Other music recorded by the group have been featured in film, television and video games throughout the years, including "K-Jee," which was featured in the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, and "Love Is the Message."
Marilyn McCoo/Billy Davis Jr.
Notable Work: "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" "Wedding Bell Blues" "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)"
Rarely do you hear about great entertainment love stories with a happy ending. Yet, despite the years of success for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. , they remain together after more than 50 years of marriage. This why they should be inducted together, but not the reason they should be inducted.
Marilyn McCoo began her career in showbusiness as a member of the Hi-Fi's, the legendary female vocal group that backed Ray Charles. In 1966, she met Bill Davis Jr. Together, along with three other singers, McCoo and Davis formed the 5th Dimension. Their first breakthrough hit was "Up, Up and Away," which reached the top 10 and won the group multiple Grammy Awards.
They would reach their peak with the medley "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," a number 1 hit from the musical "Hair." "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" became one of the defining songs of the hippy generation. The group scored another chart-topper with "Wedding Bell Blues," a song featuring McCoo on lead imploring "Bill" to marry her.
McCoo and Davis left the 5th Dimension in the 1975 to focus on projects together. Acting as a duo, McCoo and Davis returned to the top of the charts with "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)." The couple also had several TV appearances including being the first Black couple to host a television show: "The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show." McCoo also notably hosted the syndicated music show "Solid Gold."
Notable Work: "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE" "Love and Mercy" "Caroline No"
Brian Wilson is the second artist on this list who is already in the Hall, as a member of the Beach Boys. While his solo career is not a significant as some of the other former band members in the Hall, his career of accomplishments are worthy of his induction.
In an era when few artists produced their own music, Wilson had complete control over his music in the 1960's. He wrote and arranged the music, performed them in the studio and produced the records. Yet, it wasn't only for the Beach Boys. Wilson helped write and/or produced music for a number of LA acts in the 60's including Jan & Dean, the Honeys, an all-female surf group featuring his wife Marilyn, and even Glen Campbell, whose first solo effort "Guess I'm Dumb" is a Wilson production.
Wilson's solo career began in the late-1980's. A series of albums gave Wilson at-best a modest commercial success until 2004. In 1967, Wilson abandoned his highly-anticipated concept album "SMiLE," which has gone into rock lore as one of the great lost albums in history. Nearly 40 years later, Wilson announced his intention to complete the album. When "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE" was released in 2004, the album received near universal acclaim, was the best-selling album on Amazon for two weeks and gave him his first Grammy.
Wilson has gone on to release other critically acclaimed concept albums including "That Lucky Old Sun" and "Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin." Whether as a member of the Beach Boys or solo, Wilson remains one of the most highly regarded names in popular music for his creativity in the studio and his unique harmonic arrangements that made his music iconic.
Boyz II Men
Notable Work: "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday" "End of the Road" "I'll Make Love to You"
Boyz II Men is by far the newest act on this list. While I tried to keep this list focused on older artists who are long overdue for their induction, with less emphasis on the vocal groups in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's important to recognize one of the last great vocal groups.
Boyz II Men formed in the late-80's and eventually signed with Motown. The group scored their first hit with "Motownphilly" in 1991, which soared to number 3 on the charts and was certified platinum. Yet that would soon be eclipsed by a run of hits that included eight top 10 hits and four number one hits between 1991 and 1997.
The group has the notable accomplishment of spending the fourth-most weeks at number one, cumulatively, behind the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Mariah Carey. The group also won four Grammy Awards and were named by Billboard as the biggest boy band between 1987 and 2012.
With the R&B vocal group eventually gave way to solo artists and rap, Boyz II Men remains the last of the truly great R&B vocal groups with lineage to the doo wop era. Their harmonies are ranked as some of the best in the genre and helped to bring R&B back to mainstream, crossover appeal.
Notable Work: "Eye In the Sky" "Dark Side of the Moon" "Year of the Cat"
Alan Parsons has done everything from headlining concerts to engineering work in the studio. His versatility a songwriter, performance, producer and engineer is almost unheard of in music.
Parsons began his career in music in 1967 as an assistance engineer to the landmark Beatles album "Abby Road." He would go on to engineer a number of legendary rock albums including Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon," The Hollies' "Hollies" and Wings' "Wild Life." Parsons eventually would begin producing records in 1974, most notably Al Stewart's top 5 album "Year of the Cat."
In 1975, Parsons fronted the band The Alan Parsons Project, featuring a revolving toward of progressive rock musicians that, along with Pink Floyd, helped to popularize progressive rock to a wider audience. The band achieved its greatest success with the song and album titled "Eye In the Sky" in 1982. Both the album and single reached the top 10.
While Parsons never produced or performed on a chart-topping hit, he received 13 Grammy nominations, though he had to wait until 2019 for his first award with the 35th anniversary edition of "Eye In the Sky."