Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Dave Matthews Band

One word that tends to come to mind readily when it comes to looking at the critical reputation of the Dave Matthews Band is polarizing.  I find it hard to understand why this has to be the case.  Admittedly, I have never gone to a DMB concert, but I have appreciated their songs on the radio and on albums for quite some time, and the band is one I consider myself at least a moderate fan of.  It’s hard for me to figure out what is polarizing about the band–they release songs that are reflective, often mellow, and sometimes immensely dark, are a live touring behemoth who have released dozens of live albums to their large fanbase, and for more than a quarter of a century the band has produced music that blends elements of jazz and pop and rock together in a compelling way that allows room for improvisation as well as some immensely layered and worthwhile hooks for popular radio.  It seems unjust that some people would blame the band for being popular with a group of people who call themselves “Crash Girls” given that the band deliberately records and releases songs that have darker elements and cannot be blamed if people misinterpret their music.

The Influence Of Dave Matthews Band

The influence that Dave Matthews Band has had on music has been a deep one, but certainly a subtle one.  For one, the band has made it clear that there is a great deal of goodwill to be gained in releasing live albums of decent quality to avoid bootlegs.  While some bands have been interested in suing their customers for recording bootlegs, the Dave Matthews Band figured (correctly) that anyone willing to pay for overpriced bootlegs would pay for better livetrax albums, with the result that the band has a massively successful live reputation that has been honed by one successful live album after another in addition to their massively popular studio albums.  With their catchy and tuneful blend of musical elements, including a great deal of jazz through their saxophone and violin, the Dave Matthews Band is far more than a jam band, and has demonstrated a way for bands that are outside of the mainstream of pop to demonstrate lasting power through developing a rabid and enthusiastic and diverse group of fans while keeping the quality of their music high for decades even in the absence of continual radio hits.

Why Dave Matthews Band Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

The Dave Matthews Band has several obvious and massive cases for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  For one, the band has a live reputation and fanbase that can only be compared to legendary jam bands like the Grateful Dead (inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), including no less than 78 live albums they have released over the course of their recording.  Whether Dave Matthews has been performing on an accoustic tour with Tim Reynolds or the whole band has been assembled including friends for massive efforts, their live reputation is solid.  In addition to that, the band has had immense success with their singles and especially their albums.  Their last seven albums, including 2018’s Come Tomorrow, have debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts and every single one of their studio albums has been or could be certified at least gold (with five of them certified multi-platinum).  At least seven of their live albums have been certified at least gold (with two of them certified multi-platinum), and they even have a gold compilation album.  They only have four top 40 hits on pop radio, mainly because none of their singles charted there until their third album, but they have been dominant on AAA radio, notching twenty-one top 10 hits and nine #1 hits (“Too Much,” “Don’t Drink The Water,” “Stay (Wasting Time),” “I Did It,” “The Space Between,” “Everyday,” “Where Are You Going?,” “Funny The Way It Is,” and “Mercy”) [1].  It is hard to imagine a band that has done more for the thoughtful and reflective AAA market than Dave Matthews Band, even though the band has certainly crossed over to adult rock, alternative, mainstream rock, and pop radio as well (where their first single, “What Would You Say was a top ten hit).”  It’s hard to imagine a band that is better qualified to stand as torchbearers for relevant and beloved American rock in the contemporary age.

Why Dave Matthews Band Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

They’ve only been eligible a couple of years, and their first studio album didn’t come out until 1994, so it’s possible that a lot of people simply don’t know that they are eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (their first live album, the platinum “Remember Two Things,” was released in 1993).   It is very likely, though, that given their massive first week sales of more than 300,000 with their 2018 smash “Come Tomorrow” and their continued relevance in pop culture (including an interesting turn in the movie Lady Bird), that the band will not have to wait too long to be inducted.  With album sales so strong and their live presence and fanbase so overwhelmingly powerful, it’s likely only a matter of time before they get their due credit.

Verdict: Put them in.  This is a no-brainer.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Matthews_Band_discography

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.

2 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Dave Matthews Band

  1. Alicia says:

    I totally agree with you. I’m really surprised they weren’t nominated. Just to correct you on one point, this year is actually the first year they are eligible. 25 years after the first studio album.

    • I waited until recently to write the post, but given that the RRHOF inducted Green Day 25 years after their first EP, I wanted to give them the earliest time possible for induction.

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