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6 Underrated '90s Bands That Should Be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Elton graduated from Common Sense University, is a father, artist and is currently featured on multiple blogs, sites and even edits a few.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

1990s Rock Music

The '90s were a weird and glorious time for rock music. The decade began with surly, sleazy hard rock bands like Guns & Roses and ended with uptight, whiny rock like Creed. The musical genius that happened in between those intervening years is, only now, being seen as influential and important.

Despite some of these bands being ineligible—25 years must pass from the date a band's first commercial album was released to meet eligibility requirements to be inducted—why not toss a few names into the running? What can it hurt? The bands on this list are a shoo-in anyway.



1. Fugazi

Eligible for induction in 2013, Fugazi is a band from Washington D.C. Aside from being relatively unknown to most mainstream music listeners, may be one of the most influential bands of the past 30 years.

Both Pearl Jam and Nirvana list them as one of their greatest influences. Pearl Jam envied their business model and Nirvana their ethos and sound. They're noted for their unique sound, blending of elements of dub and reggae with high-energy rock and punk/hardcore-styled guitars.

Fugazi is famous among, not only musicians but countless fans for their "non-advertisement". They don't have or sell "official merchandise". This cuts down on their overhead, allowing them to keep more of what they earn. They're also known for "playing anywhere"—fan-acquired abandoned buildings, high school gyms, and garages. This also lets them keep more money (which went into making records), but it also added to their legendary status in the music world.

Their blending of punk, avant-garde stylings and use of a "hype man" has influenced many of their contemporaries and countless musicians thereafter.

"Suggestion" by Fugazi


2. Soundgarden

Soundgarden, who took their name from a public artwork on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) campus in Seattle, Washington, were eligible in 2011 for the Hall of Fame, have garnered 8 Grammy nominations and won twice in the mid-'90s. Their brand of heavy guitar-driven rock mixed with creative arrangements slingshot them into the mainstream during the "grunge rock" surge in the '90s.

Despite Soundgarden being a predecessor to Nirvana—they were formed in 1984 by singer and rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, lead guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Hiro Yamamoto—they emerged in the wake left by them. Regardless, they continued to evolve beyond the yoke of "grunge" and pushed into more elaborately arranged, complex music. They managed to carve out a respectable place in music and influence artists to this very day.

Sadly, lead singer Chris Cornell (a future inductee in his own right), passed away May 18, 2017, never having seen the band he helped found get inducted into the Hall of Fame. The music he created, both past and up until his passing, continues to influence and inspire older and new musicians alike.

"Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

3. Nine Inch Nails

Though Nine Inch Nails was eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014, the significance of their impact on music can't be overstated. They defined and exposed "industrial music" to the masses. The resonance of that exposure can still be heard in everything from rap to dance-pop.

Coming to mainstream music consciousness a little after 1989 with the release of Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails have continued to influence artists. They've even sparked a few groups to copy their form in their own way—Orgy, Stabbing Westward, etc. Despite the music created by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) being semi-underground initially, its teen angst-friendly, anthemic choruses and not-so-subtle sexuality brought it into mainstream acceptance.

Reznor's style has influenced and continues to influence everything from contemporary bands to t.v. show soundtracks and film scores.

"Something I Can Never Have" by Nine Inch Nails



4. Pantera

Pantera, a band that formed in the small town of Pantego, Texas, started out one thing and ended another. Glam was all the rage when they formed in 1981, but soon after they moved into the gritty, "groove metal" sound they kept until their break up in 2003.

Eligible in 2008, Pantera has been passed over many a time, to the chagrin of their fans. Forming in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was never their goal, however.

They preferred to focus instead on producing quality, heavy, groove-oriented metal. In doing so, they have influenced countless heavy metal, hard rock and rap act to more creative heights.

Despite being snubbed of an induction the year they were eligible, fans of the band are petitioning to remedy the situation. Whether it expedites the process is anyone's guess. Given the long shadow of their legacy, their induction is entirely ensured.

"Walk" by Pantera



5. Radiohead

2017 was the year Radiohead became eligible for induction. They were snubbed in 2018. Will it happen? Almost definitely (though that's been said before about other bands…that took years too long), they'll get in.

The members of Radiohead, an English alternative rock outfit, formed in 1985 are living legends in the music industry. Known for their withdrawn, shy relationship with the media, and the world in general, they've created a mystique fueled by that reclusive behavior and the eclectic sound it produces.

Also known for their ever-changing and incorporative sound, Radiohead has been nominated for 18 Grammys; winning 3. By sheer critical praise alone, Radiohead has secured a place in music relative to that enormous success.

Bands such as Muse, Cold Play and Jay Z touting them as major influences and having their songs covered by everyone from Alanis Morrissette to Gnarls Barkley, does a lot to solidify their position as Rock Hall of Fame luminaries.

Alice In Chains

Alice In Chains

6. Alice In Chains

What list of '90s bands destined for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would be complete without Alice In Chains? This band balanced out the soundscape of Seattle music with their major-label debut.

Fronted by Layne Staley, the band carved out a formidable place in the "grunge" pantheon of the day. It also was the first band of that time to venture into a different sound. With the release of "Jar of Flies", Alice In Chains displayed an unexpected musical sophistication rarely seen in the day.

Though not as spotlighted as other 90's acts, Alice In Chains, owned the "heavier" side of "grunge" and its popular appeal. The future looked very bright for the band until tragedy struck with the passing of Layne Staley. The band forged ahead, but as a shadow of its former self.

The gravitas of their music will be felt and heard for years and years to come, as they're discovered by new fans year after year. Their influence on, not only rock, but pop as well is just now making it to the surface, yet again. Will they make the cut and get the induction nod? It's almost inevitable.

"Would?" by Alice In Chains

Will These Bands Make It Into the Hall of Fame?

Until these bands are brought into the hallowed acceptance of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, their induction is always open to speculation. Sure, there are other bands from that decade and decades before that will make it. Rock, and music, in general, doesn't ostracize its heritage; or ignore the influence it continues to have on the present day and future. There's no doubt at all that the bands listed will make it.

Still, the power exuded by these bands seems almost palpable—concrete. Will that be enough to ensure their admittance into the hallowed hall? Who really knows for sure. But, in the end, it should.


Sam on August 15, 2018:

Counting Crows would get my vote.

Max on December 05, 2013:

Saying that Nirvana set the wake for the 90's "grunge rock" is the silliest thing ive ever heard. They may have been one of the larger groups from the 90's, but there were lots of other bands to start the movement.

Elton Edgar (author) from Pennsylvania on October 20, 2013:

Radiohead has won three Grammys among other awards for their albums, none of which were for "Pablo Honey", which contained their "hit" Creep. They've been touted as innovative, ground breaking and extremely influential by media worldwide, musicians and artists from all manner of media. So, there's a reason they, like the others, made this list.

I wanted to showcase a few lesser known prospects and a few "givens" that might get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains are no brainer picks. They're obviously getting in due to their pop relevance. Well, Pearl Jam is anyway, though, they're hardly innovative or award winning. Hell, they've won more MTV awards than anything. They do kind of "shotgun" your one hit theory to crap, as the last "hit" they had was what? "Alive"? They fell off the pop radar a long time ago.

Some of the bands I listed were never on it to begin with. So, keep listening to your corporation approved, "less think, more buy" rock and roll band list. Leave the actual appreciation to actual fans of the genre.

Zb on October 19, 2013:

You have fugazi and radiohead on here. But no Alice in chains or pearl jam who both deserve more recognition. Radiohead had one hit and refused to play it in concert. Their best song they refused to play. They need shot before inducted anywhere. So keep on listening to creep and your shotgun music selection

Brianna on September 02, 2013:

I think it should be Green Day all the way

Keith Abt from The Garden State on February 12, 2013:

Cool hub.

I'm sure that Soundgarden and Nirvana are no-brainers for eventual Hall inclusion.

It would be nice to see Pantera get in there too but I doubt it'll happen in my lifetime.