Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Whitney Houston

If you heard that a particular singer had the best-selling debut album for a woman in history, that she was the only woman to twice have the best-selling album for the year, and was the only artist to have seven straight #1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100, one might imagine that they were in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame already, but you would be mistaken [1]. That is the case for Whitney Houston, a singer who presents a straightforward case for induction as well as a cautionary tale in her own personal life given her marriage to Bobby Brown, subsequent drug addiction and erratic behavior, and an early death as a result [2]. Nevertheless, there have been many drug addicts who have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, so it would seem unlikely that her character would be in question. Additionally, as a major diva in a period of divas like Mariah Carey, she has had a massive influence on contemporary artists as a vocalist, including her support of the Gospel side of R & B.

The Influence Of Whitney Houston

There is no question that Whitney Houston was influenced by other artists, with a mother who was an excellent session singer in Cissy Houston and a famous aunt in Dione Warwick. Her own career as a pop singer began with backup vocals for artists like Chaka Khan, Lou Rawls, and Jermaine Jackson before her own career. That said, there is no doubt that she has been a massive influence to later acts as well in a variety of ways. Her breaking of the color line in MTV (along with Janet Jackson [3] made it possible for acts like Anita Baker to gain great success. Artists from Rihanna to Mariah Carey have adopted vocal techniques from her, and many of the artists of her generation from Celine Dion [4] to Carey to Toni Braxton to Ashanti to Nelly Furtado to LeAnn Rimes to Christina Aguilera to Jessica Simpson to Kelly Clarkson to Britney Spears to Pink, among many others, have acknowledged her as an influence. When artists who are worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame consider another person as a major influence, and when that person has a record-setting career of critical and commercial success, there is no question such a person belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Success Of Whitney Houston

Besides the acknowledged influence of Houston on other artists, she has a rock-solid case given her own success in singles and album. Her version of the “Star Spangled Banner” is perhaps the definitive Super Bowl version (and perhaps overall version) of that song, having multiple times achieved success as a hit single. With three multi-platinum soundtrack albums (one of which sold diamond), all six of her studio albums having gone at least platinum (with one of them diamond, another one almost there, and two more at multi-platinum status), along with hit holiday and compilation albums, there is no question that Whitney Houston has sold a lot of albums in the United States and around the world. On the Hot 100, she had 11 #1 hits, 12 additional top 10 hits, and 7 additional top 40 hits besides that. Many of these songs remain on heavy rotation on adult contemporary, easy listening, and R&B stations to this day, from “When You Believe” to “My Love Is Your Love” among her more recent songs to “I Will Always Love You,” “I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “All The Man That I Need,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” “So Emotional,” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “I Wanna Dance (With Somebody Who Loves Me),” “Greatest Love Of All, “ “How Will I Know,” “Saving All My Love For You,” and “You Give Good Love.” Her interpretations of songs are of lasting musical importance, and she was able to blend music along with acting in such films as The Bodyguard, Waiting To Exhale, and The Preacher’s Wife. In terms of cultural importance and influence, Whitney Houston ranks very high.

Why Whitney Houston Should Be Inducted Into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Whitney Houston’s case for induction is simple and straightforward. As a vocalist, she helped define the style and approach for later female musicians. She was an excellent collaborator who was able to work successfully with artists as diverse as Teddy Pendegrass, Mariah Carey, her mother, Stevie Wonder, CeCe Winans, Faith Evans and Kelly Price, Enrique Iglesias, George Michael, and Deborah Cox. Her image as a diva itself was a major element in the explosion of popularity for female singers like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Shania Twain, among others during the Divas Live era during the mid to late 1990’s. Her music was able to straddle the boundary between contemporary R&B, adult contemporary, and gospel, all of which she excelled at. She made a lot of popular music, infused it with total commitment, and it has resonated with audiences at the time and now, and presumably for a long time to come. It is hard to imagine what she could have done, aside from learn how to write songs better and not only sing her heart out on them, that she did not already do.

Why Isn’t Whitney Houston Inducted: She died of a drug overdose? If that’s not rock & roll, I don’t know what is. She didn’t write her own songs? She was an excellent song stylist nonetheless [5] who helped define a generation of music. She deserves to be in without question, along with plenty of others.

Verdict: Put her in, perhaps along with Janet Jackson and a few others in a “Divas Year”. It would be a good year, to be sure.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/somebody-loves-you/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-janet-jackson/

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-celine-dion/

[5] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-joe-cocker/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Whitney Houston

  1. Scott says:

    Whitney will likely get in but it will be a long wait. Janet Jackson needs to get inducted first – not only because she’s been eligible for longer but also because Janet was heavily involved in the creative aspects of all of those mega-smash albums and chart-toppers.

    • I agree. When I write a post in this series, of which there are many so far and many more yet to go, I am not writing them in order of worthiness but writing about those who have a worthy case for induction given the standard (Faces/Small Faces, Laura Nyro, etc.) of those artists already being inducted.

      • sunshine gal says:

        dude, i feel you calling whitney ‘just another drug addict’ was a very disrespectful and uncalled for analogy. well, ‘they induct other drug addicts, so why not her?’ or however you put it…look, she would be inducted due to her CAREER which was nothing short of amazing! why can’t you leave OUT her personal problems? i’d love to see what you said when nirvana got inducted, did you also point out kurt kobain was a drug addict too??

      • As I commented to your earlier rant, drug abuse is fair game when it comes to my writing about musicians. In case you are not aware of the larger context of my blog, moral issues and moral living is a big part of what I write about, and so it is only natural that this approach would be taken to musicians, along with my aesthetic criticism.

      • sunshine gal says:

        dude write whatever you like, i’m just someone that doesn’t focus on celebs’ personal problems. did you say criticize don henley that an underaged girl died on his property after partying with him?? i mean, if we gotta drag people’s personal businesses while discussing their careers ;).

        while there could be a number of reasons why whitney isn’t inducted yet, i don’t think it’s just because she’s a drug addict 😀 and your comment about ‘well, they’ve inducted other drug addicts, no reason why she shouldn’t’…or however you put it. they were inducted because they’re ARTISTS, their personal lives really have no bearing on any inductions, non-inductions. that’s where i disagree with you on, i don’t doubt artists’ personal businesses are public knowledge and all, but just because she’s a ‘drug addict’ isn’t the only reason why she’s not inducted by now.

      • Nor was it the only reason that I commented on for her not being inducted yet. As you may have noted from reading the comments on this particular entry, she has been criticized for not writing her own songs and for having a somewhat more limited range than some other artists. Also, she belongs to a generation of musicians that has not been inducted with the same frequency as others. Likewise, in case you are not aware, personal feelings and personal drama have made a huge difference in terms of which acts are inducted and when. The Steve Miller Band, for example, was inducted long after their own particular musical career would indicate largely because Steve Miller was (and is) rather hostile to the Hall of Fame itself. You focus far more on this one particular issue than I have with Whitney Houston or that I ever will with any other artist, although, as I have noted, the personal life of artists is relevant to the extent that it hinders their artistic development. The artistic decline of Whitney Houston in the 1990’s certainly kept us from hearing as much of her music as we would have had she maintained sobriety. That’s the brutal truth, unfortunately, and her early death and dearth of artistic output in the latter part of her career makes her substance abuse painfully relevant to an examination of her overall career. Fortunately, she produced enough great music that we can appreciate even now.

      • sunshine gal says:

        hey, i guess we’ll have to agree to disagree…if that’s your opinion, great! what i’m saying is why group anyone as ‘drug addicts?’ it’s my opinion that that’s a demeaning stereotype even if it’s true. and lots of artists don’t write their own music, barbra streisand is one of them, garth brooks is another. but both would be equally deserving to be inducted. the supremes never wrote their own music and they’ve been inducted.

        honestly, i think for pre-internet artists the process is slower and longer. for example, bon jovi, def leppard, pat benatar, olivia newton-john, lionel richie, george michael, guns n roses, new kids on the block haven’t been inducted yet. but green day got in 2015. but these artists were there before green day…?

      • If a comment is true, I don’t particularly care or not if it is demeaning. If people don’t like the truth said about them they can go and change it. That said, I do agree with you about how there are a lot of acts that have been skipped over by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I have not dealt with the case for induction for Garth Brooks or for many other worthwhile country acts, but I do believe that I will write about him and others like him at some point given the importance of country to mainstream music in the 1990’s to today. I have written about some of the acts you talk about, although not Lionel Richie or New Kids On The Block yet. I think that boy bands, no matter how popular they may be, are not likely to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for a long period of time, if ever. That means that there will likely be entries in this series for Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync at some point as well, no matter how much music purists are going to complain about it. As it stands, I have enough artists to write about that I can (and likely will) go on in this series for many years yet. If you have some acts you would like to recommend for posts you can go to my “Hall of Fame Snubs” page and add a comment for request there. I have listened to comments and written about them. I also have enough posts scheduled about a year in advance as well, so it may be a while before the suggestions are posted.

      • sunshine gal says:

        oh i think boybands can be inducted, there’s a lot of 50s doo-wop vocal groups that are inducted that many people today may never have heard of. plus these boybands still have a dedicated fanbase. and esp. with facebook and twitter, if these groups want to be inducted or there’s fans who want them to be inducted, it can happen. the backstreet boys just had *and still have to my knowledge* a successful las vegas show and it’s been 20 yrs since their debut album came out. i’m sure in 5 yrs, there will be twitter and fb buzz about getting them nominated.

        with whitney, she’s obviously with the 80s pre-internet crowd and she’s not alone as far as not being nominated/inducted yet. anyway, other than the ‘drug addict’ part, i found your piece amusing :D. while that’s true, i also knew of a handful of other artists from her era that also haven’t been even nominated/inducted yet *i mean, def leppard isn’t in there yet??* even bryan adams, duran duran, dire straits, kenny rogers, kool & the gang, wham, foreigner, billy idol, pattie labelle, UB40, richard marx, phil collins *solo nominee*, paula abdul aren’t also inducted yet. i mean, the committee or whoever makes these decisions needs to get on it ;). and sure, i’ll check out your future blogs!

      • I appreciate the comments, and the artists you mention are likely to be added to this list little by little. There are many dozens, even hundreds of acts, from the pre-internet era that have yet to be inducted that are worthy of induction, and I look forward to your comments on other acts. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get on those articles on Richard Marx, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, and Kool & The Gang. I see I have my work cut out for me :p.

      • sunshine gal says:

        sure, and no hard feelings about the ‘drug addict’ comment, you’re right it is true, i just felt it was demeaning and i knew of many artists *richard marx* who never seemed to have any major problems also get missed by the committee. also motley crue hasn’t been inducted yet? but see, tons of artists from when she started out are getting passed or missed by the committee. *oh i double checked and g’n’r got in 2012*

        lots of 70s acts are in, but i noticed many 80s acts, no matter how big they were over here *uh, def leppard!*, are still getting passed up for some reason. i still can’t believe george michael and phil collins aren’t inducted yet…or bon jovi? who cares how many diamond albums they all have 😀 even don henley as a solo act still isn’t inducted…and we both know he has some skeletons in his closet ;). & yeah i followed your blog and when you put up more articles, i’ll keep an eye out for it 😉

      • Thanks muchly 🙂 I write between 1 and 2 articles on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and I have a couple of entries in the series scheduled as far out as 2021. I think Don Henley is one of the ones I have written about that will be posting within the next few months, but there are a lot of 80’s bands I have yet to go. Richard Marx is an obvious choice not only as a singer but also as a fantastic songwriter for others.

    • sunshine gal says:

      well with richard marx, from what i know, he’s the exact same age as whitney 🙂 and he’s written songs for numerous artists incl. nsync’s ‘this i promise you’ from their big ‘no strings attached’ album. but i was on the rockhall site and jotted down many 80s acts and was very surprised many of them aren’t inducted yet. even diana ross as a solo act isn’t in there…barry manilow, styx, the pointer sisters, the bangles, earth wind and fire, air supply, willie nelson, patsy cline, dionne warwick…i mean, are the committee all under 18 or something??

      and with whitney, i’m very surprised that she’s still not in yet and yet n.w.a. got inducted last year? i recall she was huge way before they came along :). and no pat benatar?? looks like you’ll have a ton of articles to write 😀

  2. Dennis says:

    Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson did not break any colour barriers any where ! So Know what you are talking about first. Donna Summer (broke the colour barrier with MJ) was the first black female artist played on MTV. The first to have a video “She Works Hard for the Money” played in heavy rotation (1983), and the first to have her videos played in consistent heavy rotation; followed by The Pointer Sisters and Tina Turner, this was before WH & JJ who incorrectly get credit for this trailblazing on the net. You should really stop reading wiki and so on. The Anita Baker thing is really quite stupid and list of artist that have acknowledged her as an influence. Celine Dion who hails from Canada, was recording long before Houston in her native tongue French and it is a well know fact her major influence was Ginette Reno (the most popular French Canadian Singer at that time), (although wiki doesn’t have that fact). Leann Rimes grew up on country music and Pasty Cline.. and said Bette Midler was her idol. So these girl listen to her, it really doesn’t mean much. Whitney started to use melsimma, after Mariah arrived, so you could say she adopted that from Mariah. Donna’s music was the first to infuse R & B, Rock and Soul, Funk and Gospel… she was the first female, not just black female, but female artist to dominate the pop charts. She changed the face of music as we know it today. As far as the Diva Live era, Donna was the only female to be given her own concert. She was asked to due Diva’s 2 (the one with Houston), but when she came in for discussions they decide she should have her won concert. Yes the did a Diana Ross tribute – but only because Diana refused to do a diva’s show, unless it was a tribute to her. People that are inducted have to have contributed something to the world of music… selling records and being popular are not going to cut it. And your research should be more steep in fact and not a bad wiki bio’s or net info which is flawed with snippets or bad articles and opinions; that are not based in fact.

    • Clearly you are not a fan. Did she reject your advances?

      • Dennis says:

        That is suppose to be a response, to all your incorrect facts or fact finding ?

      • Yes, sarcasm is generally my reply to trolling.

      • sunshine gal says:

        dude, are you the moderator on this site? what’s up with the ‘drug addict’ references?? did you say the same when the beatles were inducted or when all 4 of them were inducted as solo artists? what does someone’s personal problems have to do with their talent? did you also call kurt kobain a drug addict when nirvana was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame? did you say the same about glenn frey when the eagles were also inducted?

      • I am the owner of this particular blog, and I only write a series about those who have not yet been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. When writing about why an artist has not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, their personal life and political beliefs do play a role in why other people may not consider their careers worthwhile. At times, I do discuss drug and alcohol abuse as being relevant to a career not being as successful or as lengthy as it could have been. When I get to Glenn Frey’s solo career, it will certainly be an issue I discuss. By the time I had started this blog 3 of the Beatles had been inducted as solo acts, and I was quite frankly shocked that Ringo was before I could write about his career.

      • sunshine gal says:

        did you call kurt cobain a drug addict too when nirvana got inducted? but you grouping her with other ‘drug addicts’ is very uncalled for! celine dion and barbra streisand aren’t inducted, they’re not drug addicts as far i’m concerned. so, why aren’t they inducted yet? personal drama? or is the committee very slow on nominating older acts?

        and btw, however long whitney had a drug problem, that had NOTHING to do with her immeasurable success. same goes for the beatles, elvis, mj….i just feel you constantly calling whitney a ‘drug addict’ is very demeaning and really has no place in discussing her career. same goes for anyone else, i’d feel the same if you kept calling kurt cobain a drug addict…you can’t just focus on their music and career instead of any personal problems they might’ve had?

      • I didn’t comment at all on Nirvana as an act that hadn’t been eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame because they were inducted in the first year they were eligible. I would recommend that you calm yourself down and quit trolling. Any future comments of this kind will be either edited or deleted.

    • Destiny says:

      Whitney Houston may have not been the first black woman to be on MTV but she was the most popular in both sales and influence and HER vocal style was considered the gold standard for pop singing from the 80’s and on. Nobody cares about a Divas Live concert. Whitney Houston has the highest selling album Worldwide by a female artist (40 million copies of the Bodyguard) and TWO OTHER albums in the 50 highest selling albums of all time. She is also the most awarded female artist of all time and RIAA lists her as one of the top 10 list performing artists on Billboard with 11# 1 Hot 100 singles. Donna was famous for disco but NO ONE sights her singing as influencing TWO generations of pop singers after her. Celine Dion did not become a huge international success until AFTER WHITNEY became big and Celine actually credits Whitney as one of the singers she emulated. Tommy Mottola, Mariah’s former record label head, credits Whitney’s voice as creating the new pop standard of singing and explicitly stated that her success prompted him to sign Mariah. P.S. you’re crazy if you think that Whitney did not use melisma or runs before Mariah came out in 1990. You’re clearly a delusional hater.

      • Shamika says:

        Destiny you r so rright. Everything u said about Whitney is right. Dennis clearly don’t no what he is talking about.. Whitney fan forever. Speak the truth and shame the devil.

      • sunshine gal says:

        whitney was the first black female artist i saw on mtv that seemed to ALWAYS be on mtv ;). i do remember donna summer on mtv back then, but i saw whitney on mtv 10x more! i’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since ‘how will i know’ was a big mtv and radio hit! and i’m very surprised she’s not inducted yet.

      • I’m very surprised that Whitney Houston has not been inducted yet either, although artists from the 1980’s (Janet Jackson being another particularly egregious case) have not been inducted at the rate or speed in which they deserve.

    • sunshine gal says:

      dude, donna summer might have been on mtv sooner than whitney, but whitney had more airplay than she did! i remember ‘how will i know’ on mtv a lot! otherwise donna summer would’ve gone diamond back then. and yes whitney broke color barriers, she was a black pop artist that was able to crossover into the mainstream white audience. as a non-black 11 yr old girl, i didn’t care what color her skin was, i idolized her for her talent!

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  12. ABJ says:

    I saw this article about a year ago and I was so thankful that some way had enough insight on Whitney’s career to lay down all you did. Whitney truly is the greatest and most influential female vocalist. Whether artists credit her or not, she’s been the fabric of vocals for acts of all genres and that kind of impact, while it has for a decade now, should not go unnoticed by the Hall. She’s been inducted into the R&B Music Hall of Fame, second class and i just dont think its as far as we think when it comes to her induction. Janet’s in and Whitney isnt gonna too far behind im almost sure of it.

    • I hope you’re right about that. There are some people who have given Whitney Houston some grief over not writing a lot of her own material, but as a singer she was a force of nature and deserves recognition.

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