Hall of Fame, By the Numbers

hall-of-fameMy good friend and favorite sports blogger Charles Geier, of The Widening Geier fame, has long used statistics-based reasoning when making the case for the best in sports, whether for the current season or throughout the history of a given sport.

He recently launched an in-depth site called Sports Statistics – By the Numbers, which details the crucial importance of statistics, and of course, it got me thinking about country music.

Music statistics are difficult to use in the same way, if only because chart success is but one measure of an artist’s impact. However, with country music being such a commercial genre, it’s interesting to see how the most successful chart acts have fared among Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.

Looking through Joel Whitburn’s Hot Country Songs 1944-2008 and Hot Country Albums 1964-2007, it’s immediately clear that the charts are important. All of the top ten country singles artists are in the Hall of Fame, as are eight of the top ten country albums artists.

But what about those not in the Hall of Fame who are ranked high in either measure? Should they be next in line, or should they still wait? What follows are the top ten singles artists and album artists that have yet to be inducted or announced as inductees of the Hall of Fame. Their rank overall is included after their name.

Top Country Singles Artists Not in the Hall of Fame

  1. Reba McEntire (Overall Rank: #11)
  2. Hank Williams, Jr. (#15)
  3. Alan Jackson (#18)
  4. Garth Brooks (#23)
  5. Ronnie Milsap (#26)
  6. Kenny Rogers (#27)
  7. Tim McGraw (#29)
  8. Brooks & Dunn (#33)
  9. Tanya Tucker (#34)
  10. Don Williams (#37)

Top Country Albums Artists Not in the Hall of Fame

  1. Hank Williams, Jr. (Overall Rank: #5)
  2. Kenny Rogers (#10)
  3. Garth Brooks (#12)
  4. Reba McEntire (#13)
  5. Alan Jackson (#18)
  6. Randy Travis (#19)
  7. Tim McGraw (#22)
  8. Anne Murray (#23)
  9. Toby Keith (#24)
  10. Ronnie Milsap (#27)

This year’s artist inductees to the Hall of Fame are Barbara Mandrell and Roy Clark. Mandrell ranks #55 on the singles list and #64 on the albums list. Clark comes in at #118 on the singles list and #63 on the albums list. Both artists, however, were very successful on television, so they also reveal how limiting such lists can be.



  1. Hank should be next. He’s pissed off all the right people, so he’ll have to outlive them to be elected. But here’s hoping . . .

  2. I think it’s inevitable that most of these artists will eventually be inducted (in order of my personal preference):

    Reba, Garth, Alan, Hank Jr, Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap, Randy Travis, Brooks & Dunn and (hopefully) Tanya Tucker.

    What is the eligibility? Something like 25 years after the release of their first single? Is that correct?

  3. Maybe the albums ranking has to do with the number of weeks the artist has had albums on the charts in given chart positions? That would make sense, I guess, since most of Garth’s career as an album-charter was only about a decade, whereas certain other acts have been going strong for longer. #12 still seems kind of low, though.

    Anyway, I imagine all of the Singles artists you mentioned will be getting in eventually. The Album artists too, aside from Anne Murray and possibly Toby Keith.

  4. It is to be expected that very successful artists will dominate the CMHOF. After all, sustained success is one indicator of excellence. While I wouldn’t argue that Kenny Rogers was a great artist, there are a large number who believe that he is great. .Also today’s country format is dominated by radio airplay and so that is the area from.which most future CMHOF inductees will come.

    It wasn’t always that way .In the early days of Country Music there were many different measures of stardom. Doc & Chickie WIlliams never charted a record nationally, but tthey were regional favorites and mainstays of the WWVA Jamboree for many years – I would argue that they belong in the CMHOF. Others of less prominence reached at least state-wide fame such as Tee Maroney & “Carolina” Charlie Wiggs in Virginia, Kenny Roberts in New England, and Johnny Bush, Cornell Hurd, Tommy Alverson & Justin Trevino in Texas .

    Then there were artists who were TV and/or radio stars (Merle Travis, Ernie Ford, Roy Clark, Jimmy Dean, Red Foley , comics such as Minnie Pearl and Jerry Clower and artists such as Grandpa Jones, Roy Acuff who were terrific live performers

  5. You could make a case for nearly every artist on those lists – with the exception of Anne Murray and Toby Keith IMO. I think Reba will be inducted in the next 5 years, and probably Randy Travis and Hank Williams Jr.

    Will Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr. be the only father-son pair in the Hall of Fame? Justin Tubb isn’t a member yet, and I can’t think of anyone else who might be.

  6. It’s a shame that the true pioneers and legends of country music have been overlooked. These are the one have paved the way for younger stars of today’s generation. I’m a die-hard Ronnie Milsap fan. I’ve seen him in concert, and I have almost every one of his albums. He has had 40 #1 hits (35 reached the #1 spot on Billboard), 7 Grammy awards, 8 CMA awards, and 4 ACM awards. In addition, he has sold over 35 million albums. His biggest success spans from 1973-1992. Just earlier this year, he made a slight-comeback with Then Sings my Soul- his first ever gospel album. This CD reached as high as #19 on the Billboard Country Album Charts. It also peaked at #8 on the Billboard Christian Album Charts. According to RonnieMilsap.Com, his single from the project, (“Up to Zion”) hit #1 on a Southern Gospel Chart.

    Yet, after nearly 40 years of success, Milsap is STILL NOT IN THE HALL OF FAME! This highly dissapoints me.

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