Axl Rose - Well past his prime.
The inductees this year were a fairly interesting crop featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Donovan, Laura Nyro, (Small) Faces and of course Guns N' Roses (below image, Billboard.com). I doubt few would argue these artists were undeserving of being inducted. In fact, the most questionable selection is Guns N' Roses, assuming we are using the RH's own selection criteria.
Below is the Rock Hall's description of how inductees are selected for the PERFORMERS category:
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.
The Foundation’s nominating committee, composed of rock and roll historians, selects nominees each year in the Performer category. Ballots are then sent to an international voting body of more than 500 rock experts. Those performers who receive the highest number of votes - and more than 50 percent of the vote - are inducted. The Foundation generally inducts five to seven performers each year.
What all this vague and mysterious language really means is that the annual selection is up to the likes and dislikes of the committee (overseen by Jann Wenner), who simply choose who they "think" deserve to be honored. Since selection is NOT based on record sales or number one hits, but rather some subjective perception of greatness, it really is up to the whimsy of the nominating committee.
In other words, no matter how great you might have been in your career, no matter how many records you sold, hit songs you wrote or how fervent your fanbase, if the committee doesn't like you, too bad.
Despite the unfairness of the process, it's still a very selective, deserving group who make it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, you could easily argue that those who've been passed over year after year could fill an equally amazing hall of fame of their own, so from my perspective, taking all of this into account, I've concluded it takes a special breed of asshole to reject being inducted.
The music industry is a perverse cauldron filled with an assortment of self-destructive, morally depraved, power hungry, deeply insecure, greedy and desperate individuals. To set yourself apart from the pack in the most negative ways, is a real achievement. That brings us to Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N' Roses, the enfant terrible of rock. Think about what one has to do to distinguish themselves and earn that title. Seriously, give it some thought.
Axl Rose wrote a well-written, seemingly sincere letter filled with inferences, non sequiturs and pointless insider bullshit as his excuse for why he would not only not be in attendance for the induction ceremony, but why he rejected the induction outright. However, I have yet to find an accurate summation as to WHY he made this decision.
Was it because he doesn't think GNR deserves it? Was it because he hates his bandmates and won't get up on stage for even a few minutes to accept the highest honor offered to a rock and roll musician? Is it because he wants to deprive his former bandmates the honor? Or is he simply being Axl Rose, the rage against the machine madman who will chew off his own nose to spite his face?
Frankly, I don't give a shit what his feeble, middle-aged, long-past his prime brain thinks, because he's disgrace. For all the musicians throughout rock's history who've toiled in the trenches, paid their dues, practiced countless hours -- essentially given up their lives for their art only to never be honored -- Axl just took a big crap on you and then laughed about it.
To be chosen...wait, to be honored to stand among the elite of rock's historical greats is not something to be taken lightly or without reverence. While I may not agree with the glaringly biased omissions of some of rock's best artists (who continue to be overlooked year after year), in no way do I dismiss the contributions or greatness of the one's who have been honored.Axl, you have disappointed your fans for YEARS. Frankly, Guns N' Roses had three and half great albums. That's it. Everything since has pretty much sucked, including your decade long Chinese Democracy album (especially when you compare it to how much it cost to make and the length of time you had to work on it.) Axl, get over yourself. You aren't special, you aren't unique and you possess mediocre talent. Also, you crapped all over the one opportunity you had to show a little class and humility, embarrassing not only yourself, but showing disrespect to all those who've come before you, and all those who will never be recognized. Congrats you big asshole.
In the words of the great Tom Petty, you are just a rebel without a clue.