There are artists who I do not personally like, and whose music I do not personally care for, who nonetheless are worthy of being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is one of those cases, where a woman who was on the forefront of second-wave feminism as it affected the music industry . In the early to mid-1970’s, this artist had stellar success as an artist, blazed a trail for politically minded female musicians, and even was responsible for encouraging Olivia Newton-John in her career, an act of mentorship that adds considerably to her own luster. Yet despite her successful albums and sizable collection of successful singles, and her undeniable influence culturally and within the history of rock & roll, Helen Reddy has not yet managed to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The Influence Of Helen Reddy
The influence of Helen Reddy springs largely from three sources. The first is her body of work. This includes three #1 hits (“I Am Woman,” “Delta Dawn,” and “Angie Baby”), three additional top ten hits (“Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress),” “You And Me Against The World,” and “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady”) and a host of important top 40 hits beyond that (most notably “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” and “Peaceful.”) . Her music remains enduringly vital as a social statement regarding the dignity of women, and it is her cultural importance that gives a particularly strong edge to her worthiness as a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Third, her importance in encouraging and nurturing other Australian artists like Olivia Newton-John  was a critical element in the importance of Australian acts to American music. This pipeline between Australia and the United States exists today and is still enriching our own radio with sounds from down under. Between these three lines of influence, including the strong narrative importance of Helen Reddy’s life, she makes an obvious inductee. Ironically enough, her return to performing after 2012 came about after a warmly received performance at Croce’s Bar (run by Jim Croce’s widow ) in San Diego.
Why Helen Reddy Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Whatever you may feel about it, “I Am Woman” is a vitally important song in the history of rock & roll, and Helen Reddy is a major artist for her time, a positive example of a woman determined to succeed in show business despite some serious liabilities (including her difficult series of marriages). Her influence extends not only into the musical world, but into the world of theater, cinema, and television as well. She had a 13 year run of hit singles in the United States and around the world from 1968 to 1981, peaking in 1971 through 1977, including a multiplatinum album, a platinum album, and six additional gold albums, for a total of around 25 million albums sold around the world. This puts her in the category of elite music artists worldwide. That ought to be enough.
Why Helen Reddy Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Fame
1970’s Easy Listening music has not aged well nor been well-respected, and perhaps someone got tired of counting the repetitiveness of her single “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress).” Additionally, there might be fallout from the artist’s divorce of her second husband, and the fact that aside from “I Am Woman,” most of her hits were written by others may be held against her. Ultimately, though, they have not been held against other inducted artists of her stature (like Dusty Springfield, for example), so they should not here either.
Verdict: Helen Reddy is another strong candidate for induction if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame decides to have a “diva” year. She’s earned it.
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