You don’t often hear of artists refusing to be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, but Axl Rose, who did just that with a much-publicized open letter back in 2012, was hardly the first to turn up his nose at this exclusive offer.
Perhaps the most famous, public and scathing rejection came in 2006, as the Sex Pistols were being inducted into the hall. The group did not attend, and Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten posted a note on the group’s website staying “Next to the Sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain,” going on to say, “We’re not your monkeys, we’re not coming. You’re not paying attention.”
Rotten’s note was very critical of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame’s financial motives as well, suggesting the band could have “fame at $25,000 if we paid for a table or $15,000 to squeak up in the gallery,” in an apparent reference to the fee requested from the hall for attending the ceremony.
2006 just might have been the biggest year to date in terms of trouble-makers being inducted. Black Sabbath were also on the honor roll that year, despite the fact that front man Ozzy Osbourne had written an open letter of his own to the organization approximately seven years prior, telling them:
“Just take our name off the list. Save the ink. Forget about us. The nomination is meaningless, because it’s not voted on by the fans. It’s voted on by the supposed elite for the industry and the media, who’ve never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is irrelevant to me. Let’s face it, Black Sabbath has never been media darlings. We’re a people’s band and that suits us just fine.”
Ozzy ended up having a change of heart with respect to Sabbath joining the hall of fame, appearing at the 2006 ceremony with his Black Sabbath band mates Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler.
Compared to those two letters, Rose’s screed was actually very measured and polite. He explained that being inducted as part of a Guns N’ Roses lineup that’s completely different to the one he now fronts would put him in a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” position:
“Maybe if it were you it’d be different. Maybe you’d do it for this reason or that. Peace, whatever. I love our band now. We’re there for each other when the going gets rough. We love our fans and work to give them every ounce of energy and heart we can.
So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn’t owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another’s, or in this case several others’, expense.”