Courtney Love is denouncing the lack of female artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – as well as the lack of women on the institution’s nominating board and voting body – in a new op-ed the Hole singer penned for the Guardian. “Rock Hall canon-making reeks not only of sexist control, but of willful ignorance and hostility,” she wrote.
Love, herself now eligible for Rock Hall consideration, noted that of all nominees, only 8.48% are women, adding that “Rock Hall voters, among them musicians and industry elites, are 90% of the sex masculine”.
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“This year’s class nominations, announced last month, provided the annual reminder of how extraordinary a woman must be to make it into the old boys’ club,” Love wrote.
“More women have been nominated in one year than at any other time in its 40-year history. There were the iconoclasts: Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Missy Elliott; two women in bands that defined an era: Meg White of the White Stripes and Gillian Gilbert of New Order; and a woman who subverted the boys’ club: Sheryl Crow.
Love placed special focus on Bush’s Rock Hall credentials and how Rock Hall ignored the unique artist for decades of eligibility before finally making it to the polls in 2018; four inductions later, Bush still has not received the honor.
“Never mind that she was the first woman in pop history to write all the tracks on a million-selling debut,” Love wrote of Bush. “A pioneer of synths and music videos, she was discovered last year by a new generation of fans when ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’ appeared on the Netflix hit Weird stuff. She’s still making albums. And yet, there is no guarantee that she will be chosen this year.
Love also pointed out other inexcusable Rock Hall mistakes: “It took Rock Hall over 30 years to introduce Nina Simone and Carole King. Linda Ronstadt released her debut in 1969 and became the first female stadium headliner, but was nominated alongside Nirvana in 2014. Most egregiously, Tina Turner was nominated as a solo artist three decades after reaching the top alongside her aggressor, Ike.
Love also wrote that the uphill battle for female artists to be inducted is even tougher for black artists like Chaka Khan, who has been eligible since 2003 and is widely considered one of the greatest female singers of all time.
“For all her exceptional talent and accomplishments – and if there’s one thing women in music should be, it’s infinitely exceptional – Khan has not convinced the Rock Hall,” Love wrote. “Her credits, her Grammys, her longevity, her craft, her tenacity to survive as a young black woman with a mind of her own in the ’70s music business, the bridge to Close the Door – none of it deserves canonization. Or so says Rock Hall.
Love added in conclusion: “If Rock Hall is unwilling 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 honor what visionary female artists have created, innovated, revolutionized and contributed to popular music – well, then let it go to hell in a bag.”
Hours after Love’s op-ed, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, who was inducted into Rock Hall in 2005, also criticized her own induction experience on social media. “I don’t even want to be associated with that. It’s just another slap on the back for the establishment,” Hynde wrote. “Other than Neil Young’s involvement in the induction process, the whole thing was and is total bullshit. It has absolutely nothing to do with rock ‘n’ roll and anyone who thinks they are a fool.”
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