By Michele Yeo
The 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, held earlier this month, is now available for streaming on HBO and Crave. Between presenters, performers, and inductees, the annual ceremony is always a star-studded affair and this year, with appearances by Eminen, Janet Jackson, Dr. Dre, Duran Duran, Pink, and U2’s The Edge, was no different. What did make this year’s ceremony different was the number of women inductees. And to quote the almighty Lizzo, it’s about damn time!
Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Pat Benetar and Annie Lennox (as part of the Eurythmics) were all finally given their due after decades of contribution to music and culture. The Rock Hall seems to be trying to correct what some have referred to as its “women problem” where the number of women inductees is hugely dwarfed by the number of men. In fact, as of 2020, less than 8% of the Rock Hall’s membership were women. It speaks volumes that when she was first nominated for induction, Dolly initially asked to be withdrawn, explaining on stage in her acceptance speech that she “didn’t really feel like I had done enough to deserve” the honour. Dolly Parton, by the way, has had 25 songs reach number one, has a music industry record of 44 top 10 albums, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999, has 11 Grammy awards on her mantle, and has charted 110 singles over the past 40 years. If Dolly Fucking Parton doesn’t feel like she belongs in your club, you need to reexamine your membership process.
In 2019 when Janet Jackson was inducted (one of only two female inductees that year, the other being Stevie Nicks) she used her acceptance speech to call attention to the deficit saying “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 2020 please induct more women.” Stevie Nicks also used her acceptance speech to call out the imbalance. The Rock Hall responded the next year by inducting just one woman, a posthumous Whitney Houston. The following year, just two women made the cut: Tina Turner and Carole King. The dearth of women did not go unnoticed by Steve Miller when he was inducted in 2016. That year there was not a single female inductee, a glaring omission he called out in his backstage interview where he angrily declared “the whole process needs to be changed from the top to the bottom.” The musician later went on The Howard Stern Show and called the nominating committee “just so fucked up and inbred.”
Inductees in the “performer” category are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record and are chosen by a combination of one thousand anonymous Rock Hall voters which include artists, industry executives, music writers and online fan participation. Writer and pop culture academic Evelyn McDonnell called out the Rock Hall (or Cock Hall as she dubbed it) for its “history of sexism” back in 2011 in a Salon piece. 2011 was also the year the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Cleveland museum debuted its “Women Who Rock” exhibit. Isn’t it ironic? And speaking of ironic, while this year may have seen the most female representation yet, it’s not been without some drama. Alanis Morrissette, who was scheduled to appear at the ceremony to pay tribute to Carly Simon and join Olivia Rodrigo for a performance of “You’re So Vain,” dropped out of the ceremony at the last minute. She later took to Instagram to explain her decision saying in part, “I have spent decades in an industry that is wife with an overarching anti-woman sentiment and have tolerated a lot of condescension and disrespectfulness…Thankfully I am at a point in my life where there is no need for me to spend time in an environment that reduces women.” No one from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has responded to the Alanis departure.
As for the 2022 ceremony itself, it’s worth the nearly four hour runtime to see legends like Carly Simon (who sadly was not present due to her two sisters passing away a day apart) Pat Benatar, Annie Lennox, and of course, our Lord and Saviour Dolly Parton get their flowers. Another treat was seeing fellow women Sara Barielles, Sheryl Crow, and Pink induct Carly, Pat, and Dolly respectively. The highlight is a leather-clad Dolly joined on stage by Simon Le Bon, Rob Halford, Annie Lennox, Pat Benatar, Pink, Brandi Carlile, and Sheryl Crow for a star-studded rousing rendition of her 1973 enduring classic, “Jolene.” Let’s just hope this year wasn’t a blip and that the Rock Hall doesn’t revert back to its problematic ways in 2023.