Update: Heart was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the class of 2013.
Heart is one of the bands that people ask about often and end up looking for them on my blog reading my series on Rock & Roll Hall of Fame snubs. Why isn’t Heart in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, they ask. Quite honestly, there isn’t a good answer. Again, the Rock & Roll hall of fame lists two criteria for induction—sales and influence, and Heart qualifies as a worthy act for induction on both levels. Like some other bands (Chicago, Bryan Adams) they managed to succeed both as a rock act and as a ballad-singing pop act, and their popular success for ballads seems to be held against them (but not against Neil Diamond, apparently, or Madonna, or the Beatles, or any number of other bands that have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Heart has sold over 74 million albums worldwide. They have 8 platinum albums (most of those double-platinum), besides having had hit albums in every decade from the 1970’s to the 2010’s (so far) . They were a crucial act (along with the Runaways and Quarterflash) in showing that women could rock just as hard as men, and they were influential in establishing the Seattle scene for later rock acts (especially of the grunge era, like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice and Chains, all of whom recorded at the studio they built in Seattle ). Between sales and influence, Heart is a hands-down obvious choice for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Heart’s contribution to Rock & Roll is a serious one. Heart first found success (like Bryan Adams) in the Vancouver, British Columbia rock scene in the seventies, and then, once successful, returned home to build the infrastructure for later acts in the Seattle scene, providing a key role in what later became the epicenter of grunge. They have had five straight decades with a top ten album, a very enviable record of success that shows longevity and consistency. Their music broke open the door for women in rock & roll, in what was until the 1970’s a very male-dominated genre of music. The fact that women can be seen as Rock & Roll artists without a great deal of controversy is in large part due to the work of Heart and a few other bands (the Runaways and Quarterflash), of which Heart has been both the most commercially successful and the longest lasting. Heart has done expansive work in a wide variety of genres, ranging from ballads to folk rock to hard rock, including their epic Dog & Butterfly double album. Songs of theirs like “Barracuda,” “Magic Man,” and “Crazy On You” can be found on the Guitar Hero franchise that shows young people the classic songs of Rock & Roll. Their songs like “Alone,” “What About Love?” “These Dreams,” and “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” dominated the pop charts and remain enduringly popular and worthwhile songs, as well as songs that continue to inspire the singers on American Idol and remain relevant catalog songs on radio. That is a body of work that says, “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” in an obvious way.
Why Heart Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
They helped make it acceptable, commercially and critically, for women to rock. They helped establish, from scratch, the Seattle rock scene and its rock & roll infrastructure for future bands. They pushed boundaries of genres, and have had hit singles and hit albums in multiple formats for the last five decades, and they are still going strong. What else do they need to do? Oh, and one of the band is married to Cameron Crowe, the famous director whose body of work has also helped influence the popular culture and its view of Rock & Roll (see his film Almost Famous).
Notable songs: “Crazy On You,” “Magic Man,” “Barricuda,” “Heartless,” “Straight On,” “Dog & Butterfly,” “Even It Up,” “Tell It Like It Is,” “This Man Is Mine,” “What About Love?” “Never,” “These Dreams,” “Nothing At All,” “Alone,” “Who Will You Run To,” “There’s The Girl,” “All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You,” “I Didn’t Want To Need You,” “Stranded,” “Will You Be There (In The Morning)”
Why Heart Isn’t A Member Of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Voters might be holding their mid-1980’s to early 1990’s success with ballads against them, as well as against so many other acts (Chicago, Bryan Adams, Foreigner to name a few). Other than that, it’s hard to see any reason why this band isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame already.
Verdict—these gals and guys should have been in a long time ago. Popular success + a long and relevant career + major rock act that helped establish a foothold for other women and other rock bands from their region (Seattle) = no-brainer Rock & Roll induction. Do you need to ask any other questions?
Update: Heart Was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, class of 2013.