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The four classic rock acts have been among those often cited by critics who have charged the Rock Hall with being too elitist and dismissive of some of rock's massively popular groups -- particularly from the '70s. The class of 2016 begins to fill in some of those perceived "holes" in the Hall's ranks, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President and CEO Joel Peresman tells Billboard that changes made in the nominating process, particularly cutting the nominating committee in about half, may have created more of a portal for these acts.
"Before, when we had more than 40 people on the committee, there was just so little time for more than just going around the room and giving your list," Peresman says. "This year, there was more free-form discussion where people could truly be advocates and ask more and better questions. [The committee] could dig a little deeper into the importance and the impact of these bands and discuss them in greater depth and make more of a case that maybe helped get them on the ballot."
Despite being eligible before, it was the first year on the ballot for Cheap Trick, Chicago (which won the public fan vote, tallying nearly 37.7 million nods) and Miller, while Deep Purple and N.W.A have appeared before. The original quartet and septet lineups, respectively, of Cheap Trick and Chicago are being inducted, while the Deep Purple roster will encompass the group's first three lineups, including three teams of singers and bass players. Some of the intriguing reunion possibilities for the ceremony include Chicago with singer/bassist Peter Cetera for the first time since 1985 and with drummer Danny Seraphine since 1990, Cheap Trick with estranged drummer Bun E. Carlos, and Deep Purple with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who's been gone since 1993.
The members of Deep Purple, of course, have been particularly caustic in their comments about the Rock Hall, with bassist Roger Glover telling Billboard this year that "it's not something we care about, to be honest," and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore saying last year that he likely would not attend the ceremony. But Peresman says the induction news was greeted with enthusiasm by the band's management. "It's very interesting that people have certain opinions about it when they're not inducted, and for the most part they put that past them and realize what an honor it is and really embrace it."
This year's class certainly gives hopes to fans of other bands -- notably the Moody Blues, Journey, Yes (which was on this year's ballot) but also many others -- who have been campaigning for their favorites' inclusions. Whether that pans out, of course, remains to be seen. "This was the result that came out of this particular year's meeting. We'll see how that goes next year," Peresman says. "Once it gets out of the [nominating] committee, it's really in the hands of the voters."