They started as a band in 1981 and started writing their own music because they got tired of playing only covers, but throughout their career they have been known as particularly skilled interpreters of the songs of others. They are a band with a great deal of personnel turnover but at the same time they have been a band with a consistent focus on songs that are full of social responsibility with hints of folk and classical music, even to the point of having a lead singer who is also a violist , and rose to popularity gradually over the course of years, first becoming a well-recognized college radio band with modest crossover success, and then a band with considerable success on rock, alternative, and pop radio during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. And even though they have not had a hit on the radio for some time, they continue to tour and record, their music having served as an inspiration for like-minded bands like the Decembrists and other adult alternative bands who combine jangly pop and folk elements and craft clever and insightful songs whose melodic surface belies a great deal of deeper significance. Yet when one ponders the artists snubbed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 10,000 Maniacs is seldom discussed with any kind of detail, even though they are one of only a very small number of bands that managed to crossover from the college radio scene, along with REM.
The Influence Of 10,000 Maniacs
Coming at a time within the music industry where a band could gain polish over years without requiring immediate success, 10,000 Maniacs was one of the most notable bands to achieve mainstream success from the college radio scene. Among their most notable achievements was being the first band to ever be invited to MTV Unplugged twice, the second time of which was the swan song for the band with Natalie Merchant as their lead singer. Throughout their career they won songwriting awards, for example, in 1989 at the New York Music Awards , and had some success both in terms of record sales (two multi-platinum albums, a platinum album, and a gold alum), and also in terms of singles, where their songs like “Like The Weather,” “What’s The Matter Here?,” “Trouble Me,” “These Are Days,” “Candy Everybody Wants,” “Because The Night,” and “More Than This” achieving success on the pop, alternative, mainstream, and adult contemporary charts. Both as songwriters and as skilled interpreters of noted songwriters, some of whom are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame themselves as artists, like Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam (“Peace Train”), Morrissey (“Everyday Is Like Sunday”), Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith (“Because The Night”), Roxy Music (“More Than This”), they have developed a lasting reputation as among the most notable bands of their generation.
Why 10,000 Maniacs Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
The reasons can be said fairly concisely—they were one of the most notable bands of college radio, they were both excellent songwriters as well as skilled interpreters of the music of others, their career provided a template for how a band can maintain enduring popularity and relevance while maintaining artistic integrity. They have made albums of enduring popularity and acclaim, were especially superb on MTV Unplugged, and their songs continue to be played on the radio and enjoyed by listeners to this day. The messages of their songs, whether it is expressing loyalty to those who are able to open up with their problems, or concerns about war and peace, or whether it is seeking to enjoy the time that one has while one can, or whether it is mockingly giving the people what they want, remain relevant to this day, and have not dated in the decades since their hits were released. Given that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has shown a marked reluctance to induct bands with a great deal of popularity in the 1980’s , 10,000 Maniacs makes for a critical darling in an age that has not been well-regarded.
Why 10,000 Maniacs Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
I’m not sure. Perhaps their supporters are too quiet and not vocal enough to draw the attention of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame to the snub. There are a lot of bands that have been snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, after all.
Verdict: The band seems likely to sneak into the Hall in an unusual year, perhaps once a solid retrospective brings attention to the band once again. The following members should be inducted: Natalie Merchant, Rob Buck, John Lombardo, Steve Gustafson, Dennis Drew, and Jerry Augustyniak.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: