Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Peter, Paul & Mary

From time to time I am reminded that certain groups are not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that I always assumed were.  And the place of Peter, Paul & Mary is an unusual one.  Are they to be considered as “early influences” in folk rock despite having a career that was in the Rock & Roll era?   Are they to be considered as a bridge between Woody Guthrie and others of his era and the later folk of Bob Dylan?  One thing is clear, and that is that the group deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but it is undeniable that folk and country rock have been genres that have not received their due from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame [1].  I’m not sure why that is the case.  Peter, Paul & Mary had a long and successful career and were inducted into a great many halls of fame for their singing and writing, and their political views are certainly what one would expect out of a folk musician–they performed for McGovern’s doomed campaign and also against nuclear energy in 1978, presciently before Three Mile Island and Chernobyl [2].

The Influence Of Peter, Paul & Mary

There are at least two different strains of influence that Peter, Paul & Mary have from their careers.  One of those strands relates to their music.  This includes the music they released together, which included immensely successful and memorable songs as well as successful albums.  This strand would include the songs and material that the members of the group wrote and recorded and were involved with after going solo, which included The Wedding Song (“There Is Love”) and an animated series based on their song “Puff The Magic Dragon.”  The other strand of influence involves the political scene that they were a part of.  In particular, as has been noted, the group was well-known for their strong leftist political perspective, to the point where they released songs directly in favor of various leftist political candidates (including Eugene McCarthy in 1968).  These are the sorts of behaviors that later musicians would copy, and the strongly political bend of their music is one that likely remains popular even to this day among many people.

Why Peter, Paul & Mary Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

The biggest reason that Peter, Paul & Mary belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is their music.  Let us recount their biggest hits, noting that they occurred on albums which regularly ended up #1 albums in the United States and were popular overseas as well.  Here is a list of the most popular songs the band had: “If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)” #10, “Puff The Magic Dragon” #2, “Blowin’ In The Wind” #2, “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)” #9, “I Dig Rock & Roll Music” #9, “Leaving On A Jet Plane” #1.  In addition to these top ten hits the band scored top 40 hits with the following songs:  “Lemon Tree,” “Stewball,” “Tell It On The Mountain,” “For Loving Me,” “Too Much Of Nothing,” and “Day Is Done.”  This is a body of work that compares well with a great many of their contemporaries who have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and indeed they did a good job at popularizing music written by people as diverse as Bob Dylan and John Denver.  When this approach is added to their well-regarded political connections and deep involvement with the various social and political causes of their time–they performed at the same march to Washington DC that became best known for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, they are clearly a culturally significant act of the Rock & Roll Era.

Why Peter, Paul & Mary Aren’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Here we are faced with a bit of a conundrum.  It is quite a surprise that not only are Peter, Paul & Mary not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but that they are not considered to be a particularly obvious snub.  When seemingly every group with a pulse from the late 1960’s with one hit or more has been inducted, they have not.  Not only that, but they are not considered a particularly obvious snub for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame either.  One will search articles about acts that deserve to be inducted and they will not appear.  In thinking of not only why they have not been inducted but why they are not even considered an obvious snub, one has to play a bit of devil’s advocate.  Are they being negatively viewed because most of their songs were written by others?  Was their outspokenness about politics considered a negative?  Is it simply that people have forgotten that they are not in the RRHOF already?  Is Peter Yarrow’s (pardoned) criminal history being held against him even if making advances towards underage girls is something of a cliche among Rock & Roll acts?  It is hard to know.

Verdict:  Put them in, already.  They’ve waited long enough.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-gram-parsonsthe-international-submarine-bandthe-flying-burrito-brothers/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-the-kingston-trio/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter,_Paul_and_Mary

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 History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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