Not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Eligible since: 1996 (The 1997 Induction Ceremony)

Previously Considered? Yes  what's this?

Inducted into Rock Hall Projected in 2020 (ranked #30 in the Influences - Rock Era category) .

Fela @ Wikipedia

Fela Videos

Will Fela be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
"Musical excellence is the essential qualification for induction."


12 comments so far (post your own)

I hope that "No" vote on the main page was about his chances of getting in rather than the quality of his music...

Fela Kuti will be inducted. Although I believe it's usually King Sunny Ade who is credited with the world's interest in Afro pop in the 80s, Fela Kuti was the one who actually precipitated this. David Byrne and Brian Eno favored his Afrobeat music and utilized it prominently among other forms shortly before the African music sensation of the 1980s. Afrobeat music enriched music worldwide. It's a significant contribution in and of itself. He was also a political figure in Nigeria, much like Bob Marley in Jamaica. Femi and Seun Kuti both released well received albums this past year, carrying their father's flame.

I can't fathom why Fela wouldn't make it in.

Posted by Jonas on Saturday, 12.20.08 @ 22:53pm

"I can't fathom why Fela wouldn't make it in."--Jonas.

Simple: he wasn't big in the U.S. in any sense of the word "big." All of the inductees have (had, in some cases), large substantial followings in the U.S. of some sort, be it sell-out concerts, huge album or singles sales, widespread critical acclaim, etc. Fela hasn't had any of that in the U.S. on a large scale.

Also, as good as his Afrobeat style is, it parallels much too closely with funk music, which began poking it's head through the mainstream barrier in the late 60's with Sly And The Family Stone, the Temptations, and others.... before Fela made his first recording.

Posted by Philip on Saturday, 12.20.08 @ 23:33pm

Well, yeah, the popularity thing is an issue but I don't think it's necessarily what bars him. I think for most observers, Leonard Cohen's induction last year wouldn't make much sense. He achieved meager commercial success, mostly through other artists performing his songs, but he's more of a cult performer. He really got in because of his reputed songwriting.

Also, good point about Afrobeat being very much like American funk music but I think his stature as a pivotal figure in opening up so called "world" music makes him essential. Off the top of my head, no African musicians have been inducted. Fela is such a natural choice in this regard that it simply must happen at some point.

I just wish I could get in the heads of the voting committee and really get down to what makes them tick (and maybe slap them around for a bit).

Posted by Jonas on Sunday, 12.21.08 @ 00:00am

Well, with Leonard Cohen, he falls into the massive critical acclaim category that I mentioned. He's had no hit singles whatsoever, at least in the U.S., but most people HAVE at least heard of him. Cohen had critical acclaim, the respect of artiste community and even a chunk of the laic, and even a tribute album or two of his works! Fela, not so much. I didn't even hear of him until I took an African Music studies class in college.

As for opening up the world to "world" music, I think you have George Harrison and Ravi Shankar to thank before Fela. And I'd even put King Sunny Ade before Fela on that list, too. What made Fela unique was that he was political (and in English, hard for us to understand, though). Highlife and Juju music weren't all that political.

Posted by Philip on Sunday, 12.21.08 @ 00:10am

Ah, I forgot about the Indian music thing. Still, I think most people associate the beginnings of popular world music with the 1980s when Paul Simon, Byrne, Eno, Peter Gabriel, et al all started implementing that stuff into their music. That's when it really bloomed and other forgotten international popular music began to achieve at least cult appreciation (tropicalismo at the turn of the decade, for instance.) As I noted before, King Sunny Ade is indeed the one its popularity is most ascribed to but I do believe Fela has some bearing on it, at least indirectly via those Byrne/Talking Heads and Eno collaborations.

I think it should also be noted that Fela has seen increasing critical notoriety over the last decade since his death. Perhaps at this point it's relegated to the left of center media but it is a start.

Oh, personally, I don't consider how the hall operates on these matters, I just try to use the actual criteria that they say informs their choices. The hall will have to change eventually as the back stock of artists dries up and as their membership changes.

Posted by Jonas on Sunday, 12.21.08 @ 00:46am

Depends on how you define "popular world music." I mean, you've Delmonico Mondugno back in '58 with "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)" or the Singing Nun and Kyu Sakamoto in '63 with their songs "Dominique" and "Ue A Muite Aruko."

But of course, those were mostly infusing of then-current pop styles really. I really don't see Paul Simon, Byrne, Eno, etc. really as causing world music to be popular. They infused other styles into their music, but to say they derivated widely enough might be a stretch. Not to mention, those were phases that didn't last.

In truth, unless you include the Latin music scene, I think we're still waiting for the dawn of world music to be popular in the U.S. The closest we've really come was either Kraftwerk, who got assimilated pretty openly, or Yassou N'Dour. IMO, those have been flukes more than anything else.

Latin rhythms from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean are really the only major world music styles making it in the U.S.

(By the way, the Hall of Fame has inducted an African... Freddy Mercury is from Tanzania.)

Posted by Philip on Sunday, 12.21.08 @ 01:01am

Fila sneakers ???

Posted by Joe-Skee on Sunday, 12.21.08 @ 13:18pm

Quite possibly my favourite artist of all time, greatest funkster of all time. One of the juiciest catalogues ever and I recommend at least a cursory regard from, well, everyone and anyone.

Posted by oosive on Tuesday, 08.18.09 @ 15:03pm

Actually, I'd say there's a distinct possibility he may get inducted some day, especially since he's been previously considered. As far as influence and innovation goes he's at the top of the heap. Not to mention he actually had something to say and said it without giving a rat's ass.

Posted by Chalkie on Wednesday, 05.5.10 @ 20:58pm

Well, I hope both Fela and King Sunny make the Rock Hall. Both made/make great music. Their music certainly influenced Pop and Reggae. Their music is interesting and satisfying listening. Their lyrics/poetry are poignant and thought provoking. I hope they both make it.

Posted by D. Stroy on Friday, 10.29.10 @ 19:49pm

Fela has gotten a lot of publicity recently thanks to a hit Broadway musical. I'm thinking Future Rock Legends chose Fela because of ABBA. ABBA's music was used recently in Broadway musicals and then they were inducted into The Rock Hall.

Posted by Roy on Thursday, 09.15.11 @ 07:10am


Afropop Culture: 5 Facts We Learned From 'Finding Fela'
From Fela's famous fans to the reason he married 27 women at once, here are a few tidbits from the upcoming doc on the Godfather of Afropop

Posted by Roy on Wednesday, 07.30.14 @ 08:50am

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