The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, once a revered institution celebrating musical legends, finds itself facing yet another identity crisis. Doubly so given the Class Of 2024 nominations. This time, the spark comes from none other than Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, who proposes a drastic solution: rebrand as the "Music Hall Of Fame."
In a recent interview on the Reinvented With Jen Eckhart podcast (transcribed via American Songwriter) Corgan expressed: "A general criticism is, 'Why have a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame isn't only relegated to rock 'n' roll?’ Personally, I think Willie Nelson belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Because there's no real clear definition, it's confusing to people."
Corgan's suggestion echoes a growing concern: the Hall's induction choices often stray far from its "rock & roll" label, leading to confusion and frustration. Iron Maiden's recent snub further fueled the fire, igniting questions about the institution's commitment to the genre.
Corgan argues that "rock & roll" embodies a "spirit" rather than a clear definition, making it hard to justify including some artists while excluding others. His proposed name change, he believes, reflects the Hall's evolving scope and potentially appeases critics.
"Why don't you just call it the Music Hall of Fame? I quantify rock 'n' roll as more of a spirit thing… I think it's hard for people to understand the definitive qualities, especially when you start putting in pop artists who are strictly pop artists. Now if the argument is that, over time, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has morphed into an institutional culture which is more the 'Music Hall of Fame,' then I think that would be easier for people to understand."
Corgan's reasoning touches on the blurring lines between genres, the role of institutions in preserving musical heritage, and ultimately, what defines "rock & roll" in the 21st century.