In a week where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been called out by Courtney Love and author Jessica Hopper for its lack of female representation, Pretenders vocalist Chrissie Hynde has also shared her disillusionment with the Rock Hall, to which she was inducted back in 2005, and calling the entire process “bollocks.”
In a posting to her social media, Hynde states, “If anyone wants my position in the rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Fame they are welcome to it. I don’t even wanna be associated with it. It’s just more establishment backslapping. I got in a band so I didn’t have to be part of all that.”
Reflecting on why she accepted the nomination nearly two full decades prior, the singer recalled, “I was living a happy life in Rio when I got the call I was being inducted. My heart sank because I knew I’d have to go back for it as it would be too much of a kick in the teeth to my parents if I didn’t. I’d upset them enough by then, so it was one of those things that would bail me out from years of disappointing them. ( like moving out of the USA and being arrested at PETA protests and my general personality).”
Reflecting on the experience, she commented, “Other than Neil Young’s participation in the induction process, the whole thing was, and is, total bollocks. It’s absolutely nothing to do with rock ‘n’ roll and anyone who thinks it is is a fool. – XCH”
Remembering The Pretenders’ Rock Hall Induction
The Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, with Neil Young doing the honors. Living members Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers were on hand to accept, while deceased members James Honeymoon-Scott and Pete Farndon were also inducted.
“i’m very honored and very happy to be here to talk a little bit about The Pretenders, who had a great influence on myself and my band Crazy Horse. When we couldn’t figure out what to do, we’d just put on those records and listen to them,” said Young. “I don’t know what to say other than this is one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands that ever lived. They went through all the heartache that rock ‘n’ roll is built on, and they lost two key members and they never gave up. They kept going and nothing would stop ’em. Chrissie is a rock ‘n’ roll woman. She’s got it in her heart. She’s gonna be rock until she drops and I love her.”
When it came time to speak, Hynde and Chambers kept their speech brief, with Hynde acknowledging, “I know The Pretenders have looked like a tribute band for the last 20 years and actually they are a tribute band and we’re paying tribute tonight to James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon without whom we wouldn’t be here.”
See both Young’s induction speech and the Pretenders comments below:
Neil Young Inducts The Pretenders Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Pretenders Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Speech
READ MORE: 45 Rock + Metal Acts Who Deserve to Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Courtney Love Pens Op-Ed Calling Out Rock Hall’s Treatment of Female Artists
Earlier this week, Courtney Love used a tweet from author Jessica Hopper that was critical of the Rock Hall’s record on inducting women as a jumping off point for taking up the argument even further. Hopper noted that of 719 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, only 61 were women, accounting for 8.48 percent. “It’s FUCKING GRIM BRO when yr doing worse than women-artists-on-country radio numbers (10 percent) and women headliners at major music festivals (13 percent),” added Hopper in her tweet.
Love took things a step further not only pointing out the less than stellar stat that Hopper had shared, but spoke of specific instances of women of significance in the music world having to wait beyond the required 25 years from their first recording to even be considered or inducted. In a tweet she singled out the 30-plus years wait for Nina Simone and Carole King while adding that “@foofighters were inducted 4 seconds later” after they became eligible.
Then, earlier today (March 17), The Guardian published an op-ed piece from Love titled “Why Are Women So Marginalised by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”
“What no magazine or album could teach me or prepare me for was how exceptional you have to be, as a woman and an artist, to keep your head above water in the music business,” suggested Love early in her thesis.
She went on to share what she felt was a glaring oversight, commenting, “The magnificent Chuck D rapped, ‘Elvis is a hero to most, but he doesn’t mean shit to me.’ I concur. Big Mama Thornton first sang Hound Dog, written for her (and possibly with her) in 1952, which later put the King on the radio. Sister Rosetta Tharpe covered it, too, hers being the fiercest version. Her song Strange Things Happen Every Day was recorded in 1944. It was these songs, and her evangelical guitar playing, that changed music for ever and created what we now call rock’n’roll.”
“When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame started in 1983, you would have thought they might want to begin with Sister Rosetta, with those first chords that chimed the songbook we were now all singing from,” added Love, before noting. “The initial inductees were Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley; not a woman in sight. Sister Rosetta didn’t get in until the Rock Hall was publicly shamed into adding her in 2018. (She was on a US postal stamp two decades before the Rock Hall embraced her.) Big Mama Thornton, whose recording of ‘Ball’n’Chain’ also shaped this new form of music? Still not in.”
Of this year’s class, she noted, “The nominations for this year’s class, announced last month, offered the annual reminder of just how extraordinary a woman must be to make it into the ol’ boys club. (Artists become eligible 25 years after releasing their first record.) More women were nominated in one year than at any time in its 40-year history. There were the iconoclasts: Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Missy Elliott; two women in era-defining bands: Meg White of the White Stripes and Gillian Gilbert of New Order; and a woman who subverted the boys club: Sheryl Crow.”
“Yet this year’s list featured several legendary women who have had to cool their jets waiting to be noticed,” she adds. “This was the fourth nomination for Bush, a visionary, the first female artist to hit No 1 in the UK chart with a song she wrote (1979’s Wuthering Heights), at 19. She became eligible in 2004. That year, Prince was inducted – deservedly, in his first year of eligibility – along with Jackson Browne, ZZ Top, Traffic, Bob Seger, the Dells and George Harrison. The Rock Hall’s co-founder and then-chairman Jann Wenner (also the co-founder of Rolling Stone) was inducted himself. But Bush didn’t make it on the ballot until 2018 – and still she is not in.”
Within her piece, she also notes that just nine of the 31-person Rock Hall nominating board are female, with 90 percent of the Rock Hall voters being male. That said, Love also points out the value of the Rock Hall, despite their poor record where women are concerned.
“As scornful as its inductions have been, the Rock Hall is a bulwark against erasure, which every female artist faces whether they long for the honour or want to spit on it. It is still game recognising game, history made and marked. The Rock Hall is a king-making force in the global music industry.”
She then went on to note a poor history when it comes to artists of color as well, before concluding, “If the Rock Hall is not willing to look at the ways it is replicating the violence of structural racism and sexism that artists face in the music industry, if it cannot properly honour what visionary women artists have created, innovated, revolutionised and contributed to popular music – well, then let it go to hell in a handbag.” Love’s full op-ed can be read via The Guardian here.