[Note: Journey was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.]
If you didn’t know the name of the band, and you heard that a band had achieved such popular and cultural acclaim that its music had been covered in film by Tom Cruise, and covered with hit versions by such artists as Mariah Carey, with its songs used in a hit Broadway musical (with a successful film version) and in television shows as diverse as Glee, Family Guy, and The Sopranos, considered as one of the best selling artists in the entire world with about 50 million albums sold , one could reasonably assume that such a band would be obvious to induct into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is true because the measure by which the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts artists is their influence, and cultural influence that manages to last for decades across such a wide span and into different genres (theater, television, movies) is clearly massive. With a massive global fan base as well as a career that has spanned from art rock beginnings to arena rock peak, successful comeback after a hiatus, and a lasting and lucrative position as a legends act, Journey is an obvious candidate for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as one of the most notable members of the late 70’s and early 80’s arena rock movement, and as is the case with some artists , the combination of high art ambitions and massive popularity have hurt its attempts at legitimacy among the self-appointed gatekeepers of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame despite their undeniable and lasting cultural influence.
The Influence Of Journey
Whether one hears the soulful Steve Perry-sung ballad “Open Arms” sung by Mariah Carey, or has watched Tom Cruise sing in “Rock Of Ages” or watched the ambiguous ending of The Sopranos with the ominous playing of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the music of Journey has not faded over the thirty to forty years since the band’s heyday (which started before I was born), with the band continuing to release successful albums even into the 2000’s long after that heyday ended. The band has continued to release new music periodically to welcoming audiences even as their familiar songs achieve high status in the pop canon, and no less than half a dozen of their songs are played on heavy rotation in 80’s and classic rock stations, besides appearing regularly in soundtracks that attempt to capture the feel of the early 1980’s. Even without getting into the question of chart positions and album sales, both of which are not insignificant in the case of this band, the lasting cultural artifacts that this band’s work has left behind, even as it continues to perform at high levels, speak to a career that is worthy of induction. To be sure, former lead singer Steve Perry and the other members of the band who deserve induction (including Steve Smith, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, Neal Schon, and Gregg Rollie) do not need to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the purposes of their own legitimacy. Rather, the fact that this band is such an obvious case for induction and is repeatedly spurned suggests that it is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that needs the legitimacy of a band whose credentials for induction are obvious (although this has not stopped the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame from snubbing other worthy acts for a long time).
Why Journey Should Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Here is what Journey brings to the jukebox: undeniable cultural influence including pop canon status for songs like “Open Arms,” “Anyway You Want It,” “Lights,” “Who’s Crying Now,” “Faithfully,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin,” and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” 50 million album sales and counting, a continuing and vibrant set of world tours to an adoring fan base, 6 top 10 hits and an additional 12 top 40 hits in their original versions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #1 hits on the mainstream rock and adult contemporary charts, a diamond album (with 15 million albums sold), seven additional multi-platinum albums, three additional platinum albums, and two additional gold albums . If this career is not worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, it is hard to think of what level of success and cultural influence would be sufficient for a band to deserve induction on the merits of its work and the appreciation of that work by the general public as well as other creative individuals (like those who write Broadway musicals and television shows).
Why Journey Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It’s hard to think of any good reasons why Journey isn’t inducted. Is its commercially unsuccessful art rock period in the early to mid-70’s held against it? Plenty of commercially unsuccessful art rock has been inducted (see Velvet Underground). Is being a radio-friendly and massively popular arena rock band a bad thing? (One would think not—see U2, for example). Is Journey being dinged for having lineup drama? Faces/Small Faces got inducted despite that, with a vastly inferior career in terms of success and influence. If the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame wants to put people in their seats, have Chicago, Janet Jackson, ELO, Bryan Adams, and Journey playing their biggest hits in the largest arena possible, and watch how many figures the prices for scalped tickets go for. Journey is about as much of a no-brainer as no-brainers go.
The Verdict: Put these guys in already, with the only condition being that they have to play at least an hour for their induction set. This should not be hard to arrange.
 See, for example: