Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, Sex Pistols Voted into Rock Hall of Fame

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Sabbath, and the Sex Pistols highlight this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sabbath Enter Rock Hall (Rolling Stone)

After years of eligibility, Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols and Lynyrd Skynyrd will finally be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


A major force in the development of heavy metal, Black Sabbath broke through in 1970 with their self-titled debut. Although critically lambasted, the Birmingham, England, fourpiece went on to move a million records in its first year out in the States — followed by a string of top-selling albums and the band’s only U.S. hit single, 1972’s “Iron Man.” In 1979 frontman Ozzy Osbourne left the group to pursue a solo career — recently capped with his MTV reality show, The Osbournes.


Formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1965, Lynyrd Skynyrd became the essential Southern rock band, with hits “Sweet Home Alabama” and the 1973 classic “Free Bird,” a tribute to the recently deceased Duane Allman. The hard-rocking, bluesy group went on to achieve seven Top Twenty pop albums during the Seventies. After singer Ronnie VanZant’s sudden death in a 1977 plane crash, the band split up, but the remaining members reunited in 1991 and toured and recorded for much of the Nineties. (Guitarist Allen Collins became paralyzed in a 1986 car accident, and died of related health complications in 1990.)

Together for just two years in the mid-Seventies, English fourpiece the Sex Pistols were among the loudest, most visible pioneers of punk. Led by Johnny Rotten and styled (safety pins and all) by infamous manager Malcolm McLaren, the Pistols’ aggressive, confrontational rock was embodied by their singles “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen.” Bassist Sid Vicious became the de facto face of punk with his street swagger and his tragic overdose at age twenty-one — after the mysterious stabbing death of his girlfriend at New York’s famed Chelsea Hotel — in 1979.

The Sex Pistols are the hardest of these to justify, just given their short tenure. Still, as the piece notes, they are the face of the short-lived punk movement. And the arguably less influential Ramones are already in.

Update: The Hall voters are repeating their pattern of alternating excellent classes with horrible ones. Take a look at the recent inductees in the Performers category:


    Eric Clapton
    Earth, Wind & Fire
    Lovin’ Spoonful
    The Moonglows
    Bonnie Raitt
    James Taylor


    Solomon Burke
    The Flamingos
    Michael Jackson
    Paul Simon
    Steely Dan
    Ritchie Valens


    Isaac Hayes
    Brenda Lee
    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
    Gene Pitney
    Talking Heads


    The Clash
    Elvis Costello & the Attractions
    The Police
    Righteous Brothers


    Jackson Browne
    The Dells
    George Harrison
    Bob Seger
    ZZ Top


    Buddy Guy
    The O’Jays
    The Pretenders
    Percy Sledge

Maybe they should induct fewer people in each class? Or have fewer classes?

A couple years ago, I had a contest for improving the Hall through subtraction. I hereby renew the contest in the comments to this post.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    I don’t know that I could argue the Ramones are less influential, given their long history.

  2. Balboney says:

    The Sex Pistols are the hardest of these to justify, just given their short tenure. Still, as the piece notes, they are the face of the short-lived punk movement. And the arguably less influential Ramones are already in.

    Your understanding of punk rock is clearly lacking. Although a conservative “milblog” is probably not the place to go for an authoritative discussion of music.

  3. Matt says:

    “short-lived punk movement”?

    The one that arguably started with The Stooges in the late sixties and seems to still be going right along? I guess rap is an even shorter-lived movement.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Matt: I don’t really consider the likes of Green Day “punk.”

  5. Anderson says:

    Gotta have the Sex Pistols, though there would be something attractively punk about their being snubbed.

  6. Don says:

    The Sex Pistols certainly belong in the Hall of Fame. While other punks might have been better or more talented (i.e., the Clash), no group better defines the Punk Rock movement, a clear turning point in popular music.

    Punk represented a violent reaction to the self-important arena rock of the Who, Pink Floyd, Yes, etal. that had become so tired by the late 1970s, and, watered down, it ushered in the New Wave movement of the 1980s. The brief tenure of the Pistols is appropriate, I think…all of that anger and rage had to burn itself out quickly!

    With all due respect, though, I can’t say that Sid Vicious’s death meets the definition of “tragic”…I don’t think that he was any sort of musical genius cut short in his prime by any means!

    …and, for the record, I’m a big Pink Floyd/Who/Yes fan…but they were pretty self-important!

  7. DC Loser says:

    Remember that Vicious was just a stand in for the original bassist, Glen Matlock. His was just the kind of theatrics that Malcolm MacLaren wanted for the Pistols.

  8. Mark Hasty says:

    Johnny Rotten gets into a Hall of Fame and Pete Rose doesn’t. Weird.

  9. McGehee says:

    Whatever happened to the rock-and-roll value of never “selling out”? And of course the punks were even more devoted to that than their predecessors.

    But now there’s a hall of fame, and even the punks want in.

  10. ICallMasICM says:

    McGeehee – I’m down with that – how can there even be a R&R HOF? Maybe someday somebody will actually say no, that’s not what it’s about.

  11. DC Loser says:

    That’s like the Groucho Marx comment about not wanting to be a member of any club that would want me in it.