Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Petula Clark

Admittedly, I was not aware of the staggeringly prolific music career of Petula Clark until very recently.  Although this was a singer who had long been suggested by readers as an obvious snub from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and though I was admittedly fond of the only song of the singer’s that I happen to know, the classic “Downtown,” I was not aware of how obvious a case for induction Petula Clark had for induction not only as a singer of considerable skill in her own life but also as someone whose mastery of multiple languages and her widespread cultural influence in many countries demonstrates the sort of excellence over a long period of time and over a massive span of countries that few artists have been able to imitate.  Admittedly, Petula Clark is not the first sort of artist one thinks of as rock & roll, but when one is looking at successful and influential artists during the Rock & Roll era, her massive and enduring popularity deserves recognition–witness the fact that her first American hit “Downtown” served as an inspiration for an odd and enjoyable Macklemore rap song decades later, sign of cultural influence if one is looking for it.

The Influence Of Petula Clark

Indeed, the influence of Petula Clark can be seen in several ways.  For one, there is the success of her hit songs, which remain mainstays on easy listening stations to this day.  Likewise, well into her 80’s at this point, Clark remains a compelling live performance act, and her songs were not only popular in the United States and Great Britain, but also were recorded in French, German, and Italian as well, demonstrations of her considerable linguistic excellence, something that artists like Gloria Estefan and Celine Dion have also demonstrated to their own lasting success [1].  Like Connie Francis, she is an early woman in pop/rock music whose massive hit singles and linguistic flexibility have not been remembered by contemporary critics who have not given sufficient recognition to the lasting worth of both artists and of those women who have likewise demonstrated both the qualities of singing well and showing mastery of multiple languages while doing so.

Why Petula Clark Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Just looking at her American hit songs, Petula Clark had some smash hits with the following songs:  “Downtown,” “I Know A Place,” “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” “This Is My Song,” and “Don’t Sleep In The Subway,” all of which hit the top 10.  In addition to that, she had top 40 hits with songs like “You’d Better Come Home,” “Round Every Corner,” “A Sign Of The Times,” “Who Am I?,” “Colour My World,” “The Cat In The Window,” and “The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener,” along with other songs besides this [2].  She not only had considerable success in the United States over a period of more than a decade–she still had minor hit singles in the 1980’s, more than two decades after she broke through–but she also had hit singles around the world, starting in Great Britain before her success in the United States.  Admittedly a bit unusual of a British Invasion act, she deserves the recognition that other British invasion acts like the Hollies and Faces/Small Faces have received that had similar or less success on the charts than she did.  With more than 50 million albums sold, she deserves every bit of recognition she gets as a major singer of the 1960’s and beyond.

Why Petula Clark Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

I have no idea.  Of course, it is possible that most people are as ignorant as I was about her massive sales and single success, and think of her mainly for the song of hers that has best endured over time in “Downtown.”  There was and is a lot more to this artist than just that one song, and those that fail to look at her career and brush her off as being an insignificant and minor British singer are considerably underestimating her importance “The First Lady Of The British Invasion” and as a worthy pop singer in any age [3].

Verdict:  Put her in, while she’s still alive at least.  She is one of many women who have been neglected all too long by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

[1] See, for example:




[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petula_Clark_discography

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petula_Clark

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.

3 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Petula Clark

  1. Dan says:

    Great article on the most under rated singer. She just completed an Australian tour April/May 2019. She did sell 70 million records and had over 160 top forty singles somewhere internationally! She is heading to Canada in June and then in the West End in October. She is ageless. Please listen to her last three cds 2013-2018. Hope you have the influence to get her in the hall!

    • I haven’t heard much of her recent music to be sure, but thanks for the recommendation. I don’t know if I have the influence to get her into the hall, but there are definitely people who read and pay attention to the series, that’s for sure.

  2. Thanks for the comments. I must admit that I have a strong preference for the Billboard rather than the Cashbox stats, but yes, any #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 deserves to be recognized.

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