Rock & Roll Hall of Fame starts to shake off tone-deaf history

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has made its share of rocky calls in the past. Take last year’s class: Somehow The Cars and The Moody Blues beat out more worthy nominees Radiohead and Depeche Mode — either of whom would have gotten my vote over another inductee, Dire Straits, too.

But for the 2019 class — which will be ushered into the pantheon of rock ’n’ roll immortals on Friday at the Barclays Center — the RRHoF has gotten it right. Well, at least about as right as can realistically be expected.

In fact, you might call this year the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction: All-Star Edition. It’s hard to remember a class with so many boldface names: Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead and Roxy Music are all acts that most casual music fans of a certain age — considering that artists are not eligible until 25 years after their debut — would probably know.

Only The Zombies — a ’60s British Invasion band that, after being eligible since 1990, finally got in on their fourth nomination — would probably send you searching on Wikipedia. (And my biggest quibble this year is that I would have preferred to see their spot go to the thrice-nominated ’70s funk band Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan.)

But it’s not just the fact that most of this year’s inductees have made records you’ve actually heard that makes this class so special. There’s also a refreshing diversity represented by the RRHoF, which has notoriously been a haven for white guys with guitars.

As recently as 2016, there were no women on the list of inductees. And you only have to go back five years to find the last time zero people of color made the cut. The closest thing that year was blue-eyed-soul duo Hall & Oates.

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