A while ago, I was doing some searching online about acts neglected by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (an occupational hazard when one writes about them as often as I do), and I came across a website whose users answered in a poll that they thought Melissa Etheridge was the female artist not yet inducted who most deserved to be inducted . This admittedly puzzled me, not because I have a strong antipathy to her songs–some of which I greatly enjoy–but rather because I was surprised that of all the many female artists not yet inducted that she would be the most popular. And it so happened that in the discussion about the artist, what came up the most was not her body of work over the past three decades of recording, but rather the goodwill that she won through regular online concerts that were enjoyed by the users of this particular website. Seeing as it is unlikely that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame itself would be most won over by such things, it is worthwhile to ponder the case for induction for Melissa Etheridge, one that does not depend on transient goodwill won through performing remotely for one’s fans online during a time where live concertgoing is impossible, but rather through a body of work performed over the course of decades as a musician in the public eye.
The Influence Of Melissa Etheridge
What influence did Melissa Etheridge have on the music world? Her confessional tone to mainstream rock with a blues edge has served as an inspiration to artists as diverse as Sheryl Crow, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, and Joss Stone. In all of these cases honest and personal lyrics and a certain mainstream rock approach led to considerable popular success. The generation of Lilith Fair female rock and pop musicians would appear to owe a lot to Etheridge as well as Sarah McLaughlin, although neither of them have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, strangely enough. In another vein, Etheridge’s career as an openly lesbian musician, whose personal life was the fodder for quite a few of her successful songs, is certainly something that has inspired other artists after her who have similarly mined their personal experience for popular songs.
Why Melissa Etheridge Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Melissa Etheridge is an artist who has had both critical and popular praise and also both success in terms of hit singles as well as successful albums. Interestingly enough, though, Etheridge’s hit singles all came in a very short period during two album eras , while she had a longer success in terms of releasing albums. Aside from a one-off single that was a double-a side with Joss Stone in “Cry Baby/Piece Of My Heart,” which hit #32 largely based on sales, all of her top 40 hits came from the albums “Yes I Am” and “Your Little Secret,” namely “I’m The Only One,” “Come To My Window,” “If I Wanted To,” “I Want To Come Over,” and “Nowhere To Go.” Beside this, Etheridge has had some success in Adult Rock with songs like “Angels Would Fall” and “Breathe.” She almost hit the top 40 in the early 90’s with “Like The Way I Do” during her “Yes I Am” album era. Her success has been more consistent in album sales, as her first six studio albums and Greatest Hits album have gone at least gold, with her self-titled debut album (2x platinum), Yes I Am (6x platinum), and Your Little Human (2x platinum) having gone multi-platinum. This is a remarkable and consistent level of success over more than a decade, and it suggests that Melissa Etheridge does have the track record to deserve induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Why Isn’t Melissa Etheridge In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
I think this is more a question of why she isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet. Although she has been eligible for several years, Melissa Etheridge’s key period of popularity came in the period between 1993 and 1996 or so, just after the initial period of grunge popularity. As grunge artists are being inducted right now, it is quite possible that Melissa Etheridge will receive a great deal more attention in the near future. We may have to wait and see.
Verdict: Induct her already. We know she will be able to put on a good show, after all.
 See, for example: