Courtney Love Says Rock Hall of Fame Inducts 'So Few' Women and Black Artists in Op-Ed: 'Go to Hell'
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Courtney Love
Courtney Love is opening up about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which she writes just "offered the annual reminder of just how extraordinary a woman must be to make it into the ol' boys club."
In a new op-ed for The Guardian, the Hole front woman, 58, questioned the organization and wrote that both the "nominating committee is broken" and the "voting process needs to be overhauled" if "so few" Black artists and women are nominated.
The story, titled "Why Are Women So Marginalized by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?," arrives a month after the announcement of this year's nominations, which included George Michael, The White Stripes, Missy Elliott, Cyndi Lauper, Iron Maiden, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, A Tribe Called Quest, Warren Zevon, Sheryl Crow, Soundgarden, The Spinners, Kate Bush and Joy Division/New Order.
A rep for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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"I got into this business to write great songs and have fun. I was a quick learner. I read every music magazine I could get my hands on and at 12, after digesting many issues of Creem, I decided to base my personality on Lester Bangs, the rock critic raconteur; his abiding belief in the transformative power of a great rock song matched mine," Love began her op-ed. "... But what no magazine or album could teach me or prepare me for was how exceptional you have to be, as a woman and an artist, to keep your head above water in the music business."
The musician then explained that, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame started in 1983, initial inductees were Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley — with "not a woman in sight." Today, as she writes, "just 8.48% of the inductees are women."
"More women were nominated in one year than at any time in its 40-year history," Love wrote of the latest nominations. "There were the iconoclasts: Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Missy Elliott; two women in era-defining bands: Meg White of the White Stripes and Gillian Gilbert of New Order; and a woman who subverted the boys club: Sheryl Crow."
"Never mind that [Bush] was the first woman in pop history to have written every track on a million-selling debut," she wrote. "A pioneer of synthesizers and music videos, she was discovered last year by a new generation of fans when "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)" featured in the Netflix hit Stranger Things. She is still making albums. And yet there is no guarantee of her being a shoo-in this year. It took the Rock Hall 30-plus years to induct Nina Simone and Carole King. Linda Ronstadt released her debut in 1969 and became the first woman to headline stadiums, yet she was inducted alongside Nirvana in 2014. Most egregiously, Tina Turner was inducted as a solo artist three decades after making the grade alongside her abuser, Ike."
After bringing up nomination timelines for artists like Nina Simone, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt and Tina Turner, Love asked, "Why are women so marginalized by the Rock Hall? Of the 31 people on the nominating board, just nine are women. According to the music historian Evelyn McDonnell, the Rock Hall voters, among them musicians and industry elites, are 90% male."
"The bar is demonstrably lower for men to hop over (or slither under)," Love continued. "The Rock Hall recognized Pearl Jam about four seconds after they became eligible – and yet Chaka Khan, eligible since 2003, languishes with seven nominations... But for all her exceptional talent and accomplishments – and if there is one thing women in music must be, it is endlessly exceptional – Khan has not convinced the Rock Hall. Her credits, her Grammys, her longevity, her craft, her tenacity to survive being a young Black woman with a mind of her own in the '70s music business, the bridge to Close the Door – none of it merits canonization. Or so sayeth the Rock Hall."
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Love later accused the organization of "purposeful ignorance and hostility," adding that it "doesn't look good for Black artists, either."
"The Beastie Boys were inducted in 2012 ahead of most of the Black hip-hop artists they learned to rhyme from. A Tribe Called Quest, eligible since 2010 and whose music forged a new frontier for hip-hop, were nominated last year and again this year, a roll of the dice against the white rockers they are forced to compete with on the ballots," she wrote. "If so few women are being inducted into the Rock Hall, then the nominating committee is broken. If so few Black artists, so few women of color, are being inducted, then the voting process needs to be overhauled. Music is a life force that is constantly evolving – and they can't keep up. Shame on HBO for propping up this farce."
"If the Rock Hall is not willing to look at the ways it is replicating the violence of structural racism and sexism that artists face in the music industry, if it cannot properly honor what visionary women artists have created, innovated, revolutionized and contributed to popular music – well, then let it go to hell in a handbag," Love closed the op-ed.