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Why Nirvana Deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just announced the official inductees for the Class of 2014 and KISS fans all over the world are celebrating.  Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstandt and Hall and Oates also made the cut this year.  Sadly, deserving nominees Deep Purple and Yes will have to wait at least one more year to be enshrined.

Understandably, many hard rock purists, particularly those who grew up in the 1970’s are up in arms that Purple and Yes were snubbed by the Hall once again.  One of my facebook friends, Dan Duffy, who is a Classic Rock DJ in Omaha wrote, “Deep Purple gets ignored twice by RRHOF yet Nirvana gets a nod?”  Many veteran headbangers have made similar arguments.

Here’s why Nirvana deserves to be a first ballot inductee.  According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.” As great as they were, Yes and Deep Purple influenced an evolutionary dead branch of rock — very few acts would cite prog rock as their musical ancestor today.

While we can debate the quality of the musicianship and the originality of their songwriting, there is no understating the cultural impact of Nirvana.  Simply put, what Led Zeppelin was to the 70’s, Nirvana was to the 90’s.  They were the biggest band of their era.  “Smells Like Teen Spirit” landed like an atom bomb and forever changed the musical landscape.  Ultimately, the litmus test for a Hall of Fame band is not how good they were, it’s how revolutionary they were.

Very few artists have an impact than can be measured before and after.  Before Elvis, After Elvis.  Before Beatles, After the Beatles.  Before Led Zeppelin, After Led Zeppelin.  Nirvana is one of those bands.  They changed the game.  And that’s why they deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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