Kent State-born Devo up for nomination at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Members of Devo, from left, Bob Mothersbaugh, Josh Freese, Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh attend an event in Los Angeles in January 2011. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2021 nominees Wednesday morning, with Kent State’s Devo making the list for a second time. 

The new wave, punk band is one of 15 other artists nominated this year, including Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Foo Fighters, the Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, Jay-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner and Dionne Warwick. 

Devo was formed by Kent State art students Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh. Casale is a graduate of the university and Mothersbaugh was given an honorary Ph.D. in 2008.

Devo’s top hits include “Whip It,” “Working In The Coal Mine” and “Theme from Doctor Detroit.” The band was a pioneer of the music video, with Devo’s video for “Whip It” receiving heavy airplay on MTV shortly after the channel launched in 1981. The band is also credited with influencing modern popular music, particularly new wave, art-pop, electronic and alternative rock artists.

Artists are eligible for a nomination in the Rock Hall 25 years after the release of their first official commercial recording. This is Jay-Z’s and the Foo Fighters’ first year of eligibility, and the Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, Tina Turner, Fela Kuti, and Dionne Warwick are all appearing on the list for their first time. Devo was first nominated in the 2019 class but failed to make the final list of inductees. 

Several candidates are looking for a second spot in the Rock Hall. The Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl, another Ohio native, has already been inducted as a member of Nirvana.

Turner would be inducted for a second time, having gone to the hall as part of Ike and Tina Turner in 1991. Nominee Carole King is already in the hall as a songwriter, and she would go in again this time as a performer. This ballot is the most female heavy in the rock hall’s history, with seven women up for potential induction.

According to the Rock Hall’s press release, nominee ballots are sent to an international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, historians and members of the music industry. They evaluate the nominees based on their musical influence on other artists, length and depth of their career, and innovation and superiority in style and technique. 

Until April 30, fans can participate in the induction selection process by voting for their favorite artist at or at the museum in Cleveland. The top five artists selected by the public will comprise a “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to select the 2021 inductees.  

The final inductees will be announced in May, with the ceremony taking place in Cleveland this fall.

Jenna Borthwick is the digital content editor. Contact her at [email protected]Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press Newsroom also contributed to this report.