Although the band's formation dates back to 1963, the most iconic and influential version of Heart was solidified in 1974 when Nancy Wilson joined her sister Ann in the band. Their first two albums, 'Dreamboat Annie' and 'Little Queen,' were not just arena rock classics: They helped pioneer the idea that balls-out rockers needn't necessarily have balls.
Essential tracks: "Crazy On You," "Barracuda," "Magic Man"
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
This seminal Chicago-based blues band formed when a few University of Chicago students started hanging with Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf in the Windy City. Led by harmonica-playing singer Paul Butterfield, the outfit went on to introduce gritty Chicago blues to a more mainstream, white audience via performances at Woodstock and alongside the Band and John Mayall. Three members even backed up Bob Dylan at his famous first electric performance at Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Essential tracks: "Born In Chicago," "I Got My Mojo Working," "Walkin' Blues"
Aside from providing the backing music to "Rapper's Delight" with their bass-heavy dancefloor jam "Good Times," Chic was the most musically legitimate act of the disco era. Their funk-meets-pop approach to dance music had far-reaching effects on the next generation of artists. For instance, guitarist Nile Rodgers produced eighties hits for Madonna, David Bowie and the B-52's.
Essential tracks: "Le Freak," "Good Times," "I Want Your Love"
Bridging the gap between Little Richard-style rock n' roll, psychedelica and heavy metal, the long-running British outfit are best known for their immortal "Smoke on the Water" riff. But as great as that riff is, you gotta check out their four albums from 1969's self-titled album to 1972's 'Machine Head' in order to really soak in their importance and comprehend their ability to shred both guitars and microphones to pieces.
Essential tracks: "Smoke on the Water," "Bloodsucker," "Highway Star"
First-time nominees Rush are one of the longest-running acts in rock. But despite pioneering a mix of hard rock, prog-rock and power trio metal (and being beloved by fans who span a variety of social strata), Rush have often struggled to be taken seriously. While that probably has something to do with the fantasy and sci-fi themes they openly indulge in, that doesn't mean their music is for the Dungeon Masters and Asimov readers: It still rocks. And whether you think they're symphonic rock geniuses or camp performers, there's no denying they're an essential rock band whose time has come for induction.
Far from the party-rocking camp funk of Parliament or the politically-minded R&B of Funkadelic, New Orleans' funk outfit the Meters created minimal, gritty grooves that crawled straight from the bayou to Bourbon Street. Their musical muscle eventually caught the attention of people like Allen Toussaint, Paul McCartney and Robert Palmer, all of whom used the Meters as their backing band at some point.
It's hard to understate the importance of Kraftwerk on music. This German band weren't merely pioneers of electronic music -- alongside Neu! and Silver Apples, they basically created it. Crafting everything from icy electro grooves on 'Trans Europe Express' to the bouncy unexpected international hit "Autobahn," Kraftwerk also became a key pusher of synth-pop before that genre took over the radio in the early-'80s.
Essential tracks: "Autobahn," "Trans Europe Express," "Pocket Calculator"
It's fitting that one of Albert King's signature tunes is "Born Under a Bad Sign," because the blues guitar great somehow hasn't achieved the household renown of B.B. King or Eric Clapton even though he is just as essential to modernizing blues music in the 1960s. So it's awesome to see the blues virtuoso getting some dues. (Fun fact: Albert's guitar was nicknamed "Lucy," not a far cry from B.B.'s famous "Lucille.")
Essential tracks: "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong," "Laundromat Blues"
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
After tearing up stages as part of the all-girl rock group the Runaways, Joan Jett moved on to bigger success as the leader of the Blackhearts, a consistent force on the charts and in the arenas during the '80s. Joan Jett is, for most people, THE definitive/breakthrough female rocker.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Essential tracks: "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," "I Hate Myself for Loving You," "Bad Reputation"
Best known for their blue-eyed soul hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale," the British outfit was also a pioneer in the prog-rock genre, bringing baroque theatrics as well as R&B grit to art rock.
Essential tracks: "A Whiter Shade of Pale," "A Salty Dog," "Conquistador"
Famously described by group leader Chuck D as "the black CNN," Public Enemy brought politics into rap music with a vengeance. They're not only one of the most thought-provoking, sonically inventive groups in hip hop: They're one of the 20th Century's most essential musical acts.
Essential tracks: "Fight the Power," "Bring the Noise," "911 Is a Joke"
Before he became the go-to songwriter for CGI Disney flicks, Randy Newman was one of the most biting satirists in music. Touching on everything from casual racism to nuclear holocaust to winner-takes-all capitalism, Newman is probably the most literate songwriter from the '70s -- Dylan and Springsteen included.
Essential tracks: "Rednecks," "Sail Away," "Lonely at the Top"
As one of Berry Gordy's all-female acts on the Motown label, the Marvelettes racked up a string of girl group hits in the '60s, most notably "Please Mr. Postman," which was covered by the Beatles and the Carpenters.
Essential tracks: "Please Mr. Postman," "Too Many Fish in the Sea," "Beechwood 4-5789"
Michael Ochs Archives
Not just the Queen of Disco but a dance music pioneer, Donna Summer's influence extends into dance-rock, synth-pop, techno and R&B. 'Bad Girls' is probably the greatest album of the disco genre, and "I Feel Love" is one of the most inventive pop songs ever. Although this is the sixth time she's up for induction, her death earlier this year could very well propel her into the Hall of Fame in 2013 (hey, that's just how it works).
Charlie Gillett Collection/Redferns
Essential tracks: "Bad Girls," "I Feel Love," "Last Dance"
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Famously scolded by the FBI via letter, N.W.A rapped of the streets, violence and police brutality. Although labeled gangsta rap, the group preferred to think of their music as "reality rap" given their Compton roots. Aside from gifting us with 'Straight Outta Compton,' one of the greatest rap albums of all time, N.W.A also introduced the world to two of hip hop's biggest legends: Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.