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21 Facts About Rock Hall Nominees & Inductees

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At mental_floss, our job is to present information in an entertaining and informative fashion. So when an opportunity came along to offer one of our readers a trip to the sold-out 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, we did two things. First, we rocked (loudly!) to some tunes recorded by each of the five inductees. Energized, we did some serious digging on the new inductees as well as other inductees and nominees from previous years. We crunched the numbers, sorted the names, and came up with this blackjack bundle of facts. Enjoy! And when you're done reading, go enter our sweepstakes.

Background: Individuals and groups can be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in several categories: Performers, Non-Performers, Sidemen, Early Influences, and Lifetime Achievement. It's the "Performer" category that goes through the nomination process, so we're focusing on those for the purposes of this list.

Nominated performers must receive at least 50 percent of the committee's vote to win induction. The committee is made up of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame insiders, and isn't swayed by public opinion. Sure, there are candidates that we personally feel should be in the Hall of Fame, but have never even been nominated. But let's be fair: If public opinion entered into the picture, few musical acts would be excluded... and what's the point of a Hall of Fame if everyone gets in? 

ONE Bad Apple

1. Only one first-year nominee failed to win induction this year: the band War. In 2008, three new names didn't make the cut; Afrika Bambaataa, Chic, and Donna Summer. None of those three were renominated in 2009.

TWO Tickets to Paradise

2. After another nomination in 2009, The Stooges have been up for induction seven times but have yet to garner enough votes to succeed. They've been nominated more often than any other performer still on the "waiting" list.

THREE Window Coupe

The Stooges3. If The Stooges are nominated again next year, they will tie Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers as the only performers to be nominated eight years in a row. (Lymon and his vocal group finally reached the Hall in 1993.)

FOUR Walls

4. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members have names beginning with every letter of the alphabet"¦ except the letter X. (But fans of XTC remain hopeful that the band will remedy that situation soon.)

FIVE Years

Smokey Robinson5. The Hall of Fame's Class of 1987 was the largest ever. Fifteen performers were inducted that year, including music legends Aretha Franklin, Bill Haley, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, and Smokey Robinson.

SIX Underground

6. In contrast to the huge 1987 Class, only five performers were inducted in 1988: The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Drifters, Bob Dylan, and The Supremes. No induction ceremony has honored fewer than five performers.

SEVEN Bridges Road

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum7. Two of this year's inductees are already in the Hall of Fame as members of other acts. Jeff Beck won a spot as one of The Yardbirds in 1992; Sam Strain of Little Anthony & The Imperials joined four years ago with The O'Jays.

EIGHT Miles High

8. Four of the original Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees from 1986 found that eight was their lucky number. Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers (1993), Duane Eddy (1994), Little Willie John (1996), and Gene Pitney (2002) were each inducted on their eighth nomination.

NINE Pound Steel

Bob Seger (sans The Silver Bullet Band)9. Consideration is given when nominating artists who have succeeded both individually and with a regular group. Tom Petty and Jimi Hendrix were inducted with their bands, while Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen were chosen as solo acts.

TEN Days Late

8. Solomon Burke was nominated ten times, more than any other performer. He appeared on the nomination list in 1986 (the Hall's first year) and finally secured his place in the Hall 15 years later, in 2001.

ELEVEN O'clock Tick-Tock

Eric Clapton11. Eric Clapton is the only performer to have been inducted to the Hall three different times. He won the honor with The Yardbirds (1992), with Cream (1993), and as a solo artist (2000). He could feasibly earn a fourth with Derek & The Dominoes.


12. Five acts who appeared on the very first list of nominees in 1986 have yet to reach the Hall: Johnny Ace, Ben E. King, Esther Phillips, Mary Wells, and Chuck Willis.

  • (Ben E. King has not been inducted as a solo artist, but did join the Hall in 1988 as a former member of The Drifters. Chuck Willis was nominated each of the Hall's first five years, from 1986 through 1991, but never made it.)

THIRTEEN Steps Lead Down

Barry Gibb & George Clinton13. The Bee Gees and Parliament/Funkadelic were the only first-time nominees on the 1996 list. Neither won the vote that year, but like all 16 performers nominated that year, both won a spot in the Hall (eventually).


14. Six of the seven 1999 inductees entered the Hall as solo artists: Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Curtis Mayfield, Del Shannon, Dusty Springfield, and Bruce Springsteen. Only one group "“ The Staple Singers "“ joined the Hall during that year's ceremony.


Bon Scott, late AC-DC lead vocalist15. The Class of 2003 was the only one not to include at least one solo performer. The inductees that year were AC/DC, The Clash, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Police, and the Righteous Brothers.


16. Stephen Stills is the only performer to be named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice at the same year's ceremony. In 1997, he was a member of two groups "“ Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash "“ that were inducted.


The Beatles17. John Lennon was inducted in 1994, followed by Paul McCartney in 1999 and George Harrison in 2004. Ringo Starr recorded seven Top-10 U.S. hits (including two gold #1 singles) within five years of the group's 1970 breakup, but he remains the only former Beatle not inducted as a solo artist.


18. Gene Pitney holds the record for the longest period of time between his first nomination and his induction: 16 years. He appeared on the Hall's very first nomination list in 1986, but didn't make the cut until 2002.


Gladys Knight & The Pips19. The Rock Hall's Class of 1996 was comprised of David Bowie, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Jefferson Airplane, Little Willie John, Pink Floyd, The Shirelles, and The Velvet Underground. Each had been previously nominated, making 1996 the only year that no first-time nominee earned a spot.


20. Wanda Jackson was nominated this year as a "Performer," but won induction under a different category: "Early Influence." Three others "“ King Curtis, Elmore James, and Carole King "“ failed to gain induction as "Performers" but were inducted to the Hall in a different category.

TWENTY-ONE Questions

21. This year's ceremony will be only the second (along with 2007) to not include at least one inductee in the "Non-Performer" category.

Enter to Win!

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Karrah Kobus/NPG Records via Getty Images
Pop Culture
5 Killer Pieces of Rock History Up for Auction Now (Including Prince’s Guitar)
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Karrah Kobus/NPG Records via Getty Images

If you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of rock history, now is the time. A whole host of cool music memorabilia from the 20th century is going up for sale through Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles as part of its “Icons and Idols” sale. If you’ve got the dough, you can nab everything from leather chairs from Graceland to a shirt worn by Jimi Hendrix to never-before-available prints that Joni Mitchell signed and gave to her friends. Here are five highlights from the auction:


Elvis’s nunchucks
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Elvis’s karate skills sometimes get a bad rap, but the King earned his first black belt in 1960, and went on to become a seventh-degree black belt before opening his own studio in 1974. You can cherish a piece of his martial arts legacy in the form of his nunchaku. One was broken during his training, but the other is still in ready-to-use shape. (But please don’t use it.) It seems Elvis wasn’t super convinced of his own karate skills, though, because he also supposedly carried a police baton (which you can also buy) for his personal protection.


A blue guitar used by Prince
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Prince’s blue Cloud guitar, estimated to be worth between $60,000 and $80,000, appeared on stage with him in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The custom guitar was made just for Prince by Cloud’s luthier (as in, guitar maker) Andy Beech. The artist first sold it at a 1994 auction to benefit relief efforts for the L.A. area’s devastating Northridge earthquake.


Kurt Cobain wearing a cheerleader outfit in the pages of Rolling Stone
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

The Nirvana frontman wore the bright-yellow cheerleader’s uniform from his alma mater, J.M. Weatherwax High School in Aberdeen, Washington, during a photo shoot for a January 1994 issue of Rolling Stone, released just a few months before his death.


A white glove covered in rhinestones
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

A young Michael Jackson wore this bejeweled right-hand glove on his 1981 Triumph Tour, one of the first of many single gloves he would don over the course of his career. Unlike later incarnations, this one isn’t a custom-made glove with hand-sewn crystals, but a regular glove topped with a layer of rhinestones cut into the shape of the glove and sewn on top.

The auction house is also selling a pair of jeans the star wore to his 2003 birthday party, as well as other clothes he wore for music videos and performances.


A piece of wood in a frame under a picture of The Beatles
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

You can’t walk the halls of Abbey Road Studios, but you can pretend. First sold in 1986, the piece of wood in this frame reportedly came from Studio Two, a recording space that hosted not only The Beatles (pictured), but Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, and others.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.


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