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What Would Happen If the Smiths Got Inducted Into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Clare Muller/Redferns

Johnny Marr and Morrissey from The Smiths pose together in the store room of Rough Trade records in London in 1983.

The Smiths were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time this week. There’s no way they could get in… right?

So first thing’s first -- this year's set of Rock Hall nominations is the most “alt” ever. Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, Lou Reed, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Kraftwerk, and yes, the Smiths, are all up for induction. According to Billboard Rock Hall expert Gary Graff, the first three will probably get in.

A ballot like this is a new look for the Rock Hall, which built its brand on the guitar heroes of the '60s and '70s. But this was bound to happen sooner or later. Acts become eligible 25 years after the release of their first album or single, which means 1989’s number was up this year. On one end, we’re running out of boomer favorites (and proto-rock acts that influenced boomer favorites), and on the other, the nostalgia cycle has rolled into the golden age of hip-hop and college rock.

Rock Hall Nominees: The Locks, the Likelys & the Longshots

Which brings us to the Smiths. Morrissey and company are long shots, as Graff notes the Rock Hall has been tough on post-60s British bands, let alone ones that never had stateside hit. But then again, we live in days when Arcade Fire and Bon Iver win major Grammys. If the Rock Hall wants to capitalize on Morrissey’s highly bloggable, highly disastrous World Peace Is None of Your Business album cycle, it could go the indie route and choose the Smiths. It’s still rather preposterous, but not as preposterous as it would have been six years ago, when the band was first eligible.

For sake of argument, let’s say the Smiths do make it in. Morrissey would definitely decline the invitation... or would he? They’d need an artist to induct him, and since he’s generally disdainful towards prominent contemporary musicians, insisting on inducting himself via a rant against the British royal family/Madonna/Kiss-branded restaurants would be classic Morrissey. But even if the venue decides to go 100 percent vegetarian, getting 100 percent of the Smiths in the same place is unlikely.

Seventy-five percent, though, is very possible. Drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke would attend because of course they would. And what about Johnny Marr, the guitarist who was arguably just as vital as Morrissey to the Smiths’ success? As Billboard editor Andrew Flanagan puts it, “He’d show up smiling with a copy of his new album.”

So what about the all-important, Blu-ray-ready Rock Hall live performance? Marr performs Smiths songs on tour as a solo act, so the trio wouldn’t technically even need Morrissey in the fold. But Moz abhors Joyce and Rourke, and since he appears to be on good terms with Marr, no one would expect Marr to resurrect the Smiths without Moz. Besides, would any Smiths fans want to see the storied reunion happen at a setting as campy as the Rock Hall? Much more likely, we’d see a few modern alt-rockers (Miley Cyrus, lord willing) cover some Smiths standards and call it a night.

But a Smiths plaque in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just too far out of the question, right? Right? Until the results come out in December, let’s recall the last act who rebuffed the Rock Hall’s call -- the Sex Pistols. Back in 2006, the band rejected its invitation (they were inducted anyway) with an angry letter that began, “Next to the Sex Pistols, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a piss stain.”

“Piss stain”? Morrissey, surely you can do better!