10 Metal Bands Who Should Be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Judas Priest performing in 2005
Photo by Zach Petersen via Flickr
On April 8, Deep Purple was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York, an honor long overdue for true fans of the band. Founded in Hertford, England in 1968, Deep Purple is considered one of the originators of heavy metal, so their induction got us thinking about other metal bands who deserve to be in the Hall. HBO broadcast the induction ceremony over the weekend — and will repeat it several times throughout the month — so it should be fresh in everyone's minds.
Note: artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording.
10. MOTLEY CRUE
Years Eligible: 10
Never a favorite of music critics, Motley Crue has nonetheless stood the test of time and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide since forming in Los Angeles in 1981. Granted, the band’s flamboyant image and wild lifestyle — complete with brushes with the law, drug addiction/overdose, groupies and homemade porno movies — has often overshadowed the music. Motley Crue first hit it big with the release of their second album Shout at the Devil in 1983; the videos for "Looks That Kill" and "Too Young to Fall in Love" became very popular on MTV at the time. Fans were intrigued with the band’s look that featured big hair, makeup, tattoos and spiked leather stage outfits. Motley Crue’s heyday was the '80s, and they released a string of hit albums that ended with 1989's Dr. Feelgood, their best-selling album. The Crue announced their retirement plans in 2013 and played the final date of their farewell tour on December 31, 2015, but you can probably always hear “Girls, Girls, Girls” at any strip club in town any day of the year.
9. BLUE OYSTER CULT
Years Eligible: 19
Blue Oyster Cult are probably best known to casual fans for their singles "(Don't Fear) the Reaper," "Godzilla" and "Burnin' for You," which remain in heavy rotation on classic-rock radio today. In 2000 Christopher Walken brought the band back into the spotlight through a Saturday Night Live sketch in which he played Blue Oyster Cult’s producer who demanded “more cowbell” from the band, immediately turning it into a popular American pop-culture catchphrase. The band has recorded 14 studio albums throughout the years and has had a big influence on prominent metal, alternative, punk, rock noir, and jam bands, among other genres; longtime band members lead guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser and lead vocalist Eric Bloom remain with the band today after numerous lineup changes.
Years Eligible: 19
Like Motley Crue, Germany’s Scorpions had their biggest commercial success during the '80s; videos for "Rock You Like a Hurricane," "Bad Boys Running Wild" "Big City Nights" and power ballad "Still Loving You" from 1984 album Love at First Sting were huge on radio and in heavy MTV rotation during that time. The band actually started way back in 1965, and many hardcore fans (as well as some music critics) believe that Scorpions' music from the '70s and early '80s is superior to the more popular, commercial material. Acclaimed guitarists Uli Roth and Michael Schenker played with the band before moving on, while Michael’s brother Rudolf, vocalist Klaus Meine and lead guitarist Matthias Jabs are longtime members still recording and touring with the band. Scorpions' biggest hit single was actually the 1990 ballad “Wind of Change," which reflects on the political and social changes that took place in Eastern Europe and elsewhere at the end of the Cold War. A permanent exhibit at the Rock Hall features the Scorpions in part, so it seems likely that they will get inducted some time in the future.
Years Eligible: 8
Sometimes described as the band that saved metal in the '90s, when alternative rock and grunge eclipsed more traditional metal in popularity, Pantera burst onto the national scene in 1990 with the release of their fifth album, Cowboys from Hell. The band was founded in Arlington, Texas in 1981 by the Abbott brothers, drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell; early incarnations of the band have been described as "glam metal," though the sound was closer to Van Halen or Judas Priest than Poison. Vocalist Phil Anselmo joined in 1986 and recorded the album Power Metal with the band in 1988, before the band went into a heavier, more aggressive groove-metal style on Cowboys. Dimebag Darrell became an instant guitar hero to millions of metal fans, and Anselmo gained a reputation for being a wild man onstage and a bit of a loose cannon. Anselmo had a problem with heroin, which he says he used as a painkiller due to extreme back pain; he overdosed and almost died in 1996.
Along the way, Pantera recorded some classic metal albums, with 1994's Far Beyond Driven debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with virtually zero radio promotion. The Abott brothers disbanded Pantera in 2003 after years of tension and communication problems with Anselmo; Dimebag Darrell was tragically shot and killed onstage by a mentally unstable fan in 2004 while performing with his band, Damageplan. Earlier this year, Anselmo made headlines for giving a Nazi salute and shouting “white power” during a tribute to Dimebag; he later apologized, but his actions make an induction into the Rock Hall for Pantera unlikely anytime soon.
Years Eligible: 8
One of the heaviest bands in history and in my mind the best of the “big four” thrash-metal bands, Slayer have maintained their integrity by always staying true to their vision and have never compromised by making music that was geared to be more commercial or radio-friendly. Founded in 1981 by guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo, the band recorded its first album Show No Mercy in 1983; the band self-financed the album with money Araya earned as a respiratory therapist and money borrowed from King's father. Slayer next released a three-song EP titled Haunting the Chapel in 1984 and Hell Awaits in 1985 before signing to major label Def Jam Records and releasing what many consider to be their masterpiece — and the ultimate thrash-metal album — 1986's Reign In Blood.
Slayer’s albums contain songs and lyrics about Satanism, Nazism, serial killers, war, religion, human suffering and death and have been controversial, resulting in criticism, protests, album bans and lawsuits over the years. Lombardo quit the band in 1992, rejoined in 2001 and was fired in 2013; Paul Bostaph has been Slayer’s drummer during Lombardo’s departures. Hanneman suffered serious health problems in 2011 and was replaced on tour dates by Gary Holt of Exodus; Holt became a permanent member of Slayer upon Hanneman's death of liver failure in 2013. His death devastated many in the metal community, but Slayer vowed to continue on and released Repentless, their 12th studio album and first without Hanneman, in 2015.
5. OZZY OSBOURNE
Years Eligible: 11
Ozzy Osbourne was of course inducted into the Rock Hall as a member of pioneering metal band Black Sabbath in 2006; he deserves to get inducted as a solo artist as well. Osbourne was fired from Sabbath in 1979 due to excessive alcohol and drug abuse, though he claims he had no more of a problem than the other band members. His debut solo album, 1980's Blizzard of Ozz, featured drummer Lee Kerslake, bassist/lyricist Bob Daisley, keyboardist Don Airey and guitarist Randy Rhoads; the album was a huge financial success and included the classic songs, "Crazy Train," "Suicide Solution" and "Mr Crowley. Its 1981 followup, Diary of a Madman, was another hit; tragically, it would be the last album neo-classical guitar hero Rhoads would record, as he died on tour in 1982 in a plane crash resulting from a prank gone wrong. After Rhoads' death, Osbourne worked with a number of talented guitarists including Brad Gillis, Jake. E. Lee and most notably Zakk Wylde, among others; after many years of multiple platinum albums, sales have waned on more recent releases so it will be interesting to see what Ozzy does after the current Sabbath farewell tour ends. No Houston date, by the way.
Years Eligible: 14
Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister, aka "God," was the sole constant member of Motörhead, which formed in 1975 in England. Although the band was often labeled as heavy metal, Lemmy himself described Motörhead’s music as just rock and roll and felt more of a kinship with punk, as the band had come out of that scene in mid-1970s London. The classic Motörhead lineup featuring Lemmy on vocals and bass; "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitar; and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor recorded the equally classic albums, Motörhead (1977), Overkill (1979), Bomber (1979) and Ace of Spades (1980). That lineup also recorded 1982's Iron Fist, an album that Clarke produced and Lemmy has since called garbage, though the title track is considered a seminal Motörhead song.
Clarke left the band in 1982 after the second date on tour promoting Iron Fist; Clarke and Lemmy had not been getting along for some time. Lemmy was always the face of Motorhead, and he kept chugging along for decades, playing his fusion of punk and metal that helped pioneer speed-metal and thrash-metal along the way. After releasing 23 studio albums, ten live recordings, 12 compilation albums, and five EPs over a long career, Lemmy shockingly died of cancer at the age of 70 in 2015 and Motörhead came to an end. Lemmy would be impossible to replace.
3. RONNIE JAMES DIO
Years Eligible: 33
Dio the band should certainly be considered for induction into the Rock Hall, especially for their first two classic metal albums, Holy Diver (1983) and The Last In Line (1984). Because of his great work with Rainbow and Black Sabbath, in addition to his own band, Dio the man should definitely be inducted. Born Ronald James Padavona, Dio first recorded music way back in 1958 with his third band Ronnie & the Red Caps; Dio’s first prominent band was Elf, which recorded three albums from 1972 to 1975 before breaking up after most of the lineup was absorbed into Ritchie Blackmore's new group, Rainbow. Dio joined Rainbow as well and sang on three albums before he left after Blackmore wanted to move in a more commercial direction.
Dio then replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath and cemented his place in heavy-metal history after recording Heaven and Hell (1980) and Mob Rules (1981) with the band. Dio and drummer Vinny Appice left Sabbath and formed their own band, Dio, after tensions with Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler reached a breaking point in 1982. Dio would return to Sabbath for the Dehumanizer album in 1992 and again in 2006, with the band taking the moniker Heaven & Hell and releasing one album, 2008's The Devil You Know. Dio is largely regarded as one of the greatest metal singers of all time and is also famous for “throwing up devil horns” in concert; he died of cancer in 2010.
2. IRON MAIDEN
Years Eligible: 12
Iron Maiden is one of the most successful metal bands of all time, but in addition to the music, what really drew in a lot of fans in the early days when Maiden got zero play on radio was their fantastic album artwork featuring mascot Eddie and their cool band logo; bands can learn a lot about marketing from them. Formed in England in 1975, the band recorded their first two albums, Iron Maiden (1980) and Killers (1981) with vocalist Paul Di'Anno; the albums are legendary metal classics in their own right, but Iron Maiden really took off when Bruce Dickinson replaced Di'Anno for the 1982 album The Number of the Beast.
The title of that album and the cover artwork brought accusations of Satanism, which continue from religious zealots to this day. Dickinson left Maiden to pursue a solo career in 1993 and was replaced by Blaze Bayley for a couple of albums; these albums sold poorly compared to Maiden’s previous work in the era of grunge. Dickinson returned to the band in 1999, and Maiden released Brave New World in 2000. the group continues on, recording albums and selling out arenas around the world; they seem to be more popular now than ever.
1. JUDAS PRIEST
Years Eligible: 17
Many people consider Judas Priest as the second most important metal band of all time, behind Black Sabbath. Like Sabbath, Priest formed in Birmingham, England; they released their first album, Rocka Rolla, in 1974. Priest next recorded four classic albums during their formative years, Sad Wings of Destiny (1976), Sin After Sin (1977) Stained Class (1978) and Hell Bent for Leather (1978) that influenced metal bands for decades to come. The band moved to a more commercial, radio-friendly sound with 1980’s British Steel, which features the classics "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight." Screaming For Vengeance (1982) and Defenders of the Faith (1984) went on to become the band’s most popular albums.
Singer Rob Halford and the band also helped define heavy-metal fashion with their hardcore metal/biker/S&M style, with leather and spikes; Halford left the band in 1991 but returned in 2003 and Priest released Angel of Retribution in 2005. Guitarist K. K. Downing retired in 2011 and was replaced by Richie Faulkner; the new Priest lineup released Redeemer of Souls in 2014, the band's first Top 10 album debut in the U.S. Priest is currently working on a new album scheduled for release in 2017.
HBO will re-air the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on HBO2; 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday on HBO; and 5 a.m. Saturday on HBO2, among other times. See hbo.com for complete listings.
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