Why Isn’t Connie Francis In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

Connie Francis

Rock’s first female superstar is not in the Hall of Fame

(No. 27 in a continuing series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)

By Phill Marder

I’ve had the same best friend since first grade. Smartest person I’ve ever known. Hippest person I’ve ever known. And considering how long he’s put up with me, the most patient person I’ve ever known.

And almost every time I see him, which is much too infrequent these days, the first thing he says is, “I can’t believe Connie Francis is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Of course, if you’ve followed the actions of the Hall of Fame since its first induction ceremony in 1986 or if you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog, Connie Francis not being an inductee wouldn’t surprise you at all. After all, Rock & Roll started in the mid-50s and the top female Rock artist on the Billboard singles chart from 1955 to 1959 was Connie Francis. That’s far above the already inducted LaVern Baker, who came in 11th, and inductees Ruth Brown and Wanda Jackson, who didn’t even make the list. In the ’60s, she ranked second between the already inducted Brenda Lee and the shamefully ignored Dionne Warwick. That’s above the already inducted Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Dusty Springfield and Dinah Washington.

Now I know some of you out there are thinking the Hall of Fame should not be based on how many records are sold. But, with apologies to Tom Waits, having a lot of hit records is not necessarily a bad thing. It means people enjoy the work of the artist and, quite often, enjoy it enough to buy it. If enough buy it, the artist becomes famous – as in Hall of Famous.

And for those who rely on the “influence” or “importance” arguments, favorite crutches for the Hall of Fame committee, how could anyone deny the influence or importance of Rock & Roll’s first female superstar? She was FIRST. How could she not be important or influential?

Some even will suggest Francis was not Rock & Roll. Well, if you were a teen during Rock’s formulative days, you’re well aware that she was all over Rock radio. Sure, her first major hits, “Who’s Sorry Now?” and “I’m Sorry I Made You Cry” were ballads and remakes of songs that had been major successes in the early 1900s, but that was very common in those days. Early Rock & Roll is littered with hits that were updated versions of past standards, the definition of “updated“ essentially being they had a good beat and you could dance to them. And I don’t remember anyone switching the station when they came on. On the contrary, “Who’s Sorry Now” reached No. 4 in the states and topped the British charts, with the follow-up just missing the UK top 10.

Francis, still just 19 at the time, clearly demonstrated where her heart was when it came time for the next single. I’m sure every Connie Francis fan knows this vignette by heart, but bear with me for those unfamiliar with the story.

Young songwriters Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield were invited to Francis’ home to pitch some offerings. They played just about every ballad they had penned, but Francis was disinterested to the point of becoming so bored she began writing in her diary. Having run out of material, the boys decided to try one last song which they had hoped one of the day’s popular girl groups (reportedly the Shepherd Sisters of “Alone“ fame) would pick up. When they went into “Stupid Cupid,” a teenage rocker, Francis immediately perked up. She took it to No. 14 in the states and it became her second British No. 1 in 1958.

Ironically, Sedaka, profiled earlier in this series, wrote “The Diary” based on this experience and when the management of Little Anthony & the Imperials initially rejected it, Sedaka recorded it himself for his first big hit. Little Anthony & the Imperials recovered to become one of Rock’s greatest vocal groups, eventually gaining entrance into the Hall of Fame, but the Shepherd Sisters never had a second hit.

Now you may have noticed that while Francis was becoming Rock’s first female superstar in the United States, she was having even greater success on the United Kingdom charts. Her success overseas was only to grow as she began recording in multiple languages – eventually 15 – leading to her becoming the first non-European to be named Europe’s most popular artist, this occurring in 1960. Eventually, she was named the #1 singer in over 10 different countries. She appeared on every major television variety show of the time, including 25 visits to The Ed Sullivan Show, the most by any performer. And she also appeared in her own television specials in the United States and several European countries in addition to four movies.

Connie Francis

But long before her 1960 on-screen debut in “Where The Boys Are,“ she was supplying soundtrack vocals for Rock movies. In 1956, Tuesday Weld sang to the vocal tracks of Francis, who was just 17 and without a hit, in “Rock, Rock, Rock,” and the following year Freda Holloway did the same in the Rock movie “Jamboree.”

All told, she notched 15 top 10 singles in the United States, including three that reached No. 1. When “My Heart Has a Mind Of Its Own” followed “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” to the top spot in 1960, Francis became the first female to have back-to-back No. 1 singles. In Britain, 11 of her singles got to the top 10, with two No. 1s and a No. 2 included. Twenty-two of her albums charted, six making the top 30. These included Italian and Jewish favorites, movie hits, a country LP, a Christmas album, a twist LP and “Greatest American Waltzes.” How do you spell versatility? She had four top 20 LPs in the UK, including a greatest hits set that topped the British chart in 1977. How do you spell sustainability? Seriously, how do you spell sustainability?

Her career as a chart-topper took a hit when The British Invasion landed, but her tremendous popularity around the world has enabled her to remain a steady seller – note the No. 1 LP in Britain in 1977 – and popular concert attraction to this day.

If she were a teen today, she would have more than held her own with the many young females on the scene. She was great looking and great sounding. Anyone who lived through the birth of Rock & Roll or anyone with an even basic knowledge of Rock’s formative period would be asking the same question asked by my best friend – and myself, I might add.

How can Connie Francis not be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

31 thoughts on “Why Isn’t Connie Francis In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

  1. Vacation was one of the first 45s I bought. For years I would run hme from school on the last day of the year and play that song over and over.

  2. Excellent article, Phill. You nailed every point. It’s beyond me how Connie wasn’t inducted long before now. Not Rock ‘n Roll? “Stupid Cupid” and “Lipstick On Your Collar” rock with the best of them! Connie’s induction into the Hall is a no brainer, just as it should be for Paul Anka and Pat Boone.

  3. Following Brenda Lee, whom I recently saw in concert and who is still “Comin’ On Strong,” Connie Francis remains the other rock’n’roll female artist whom I would most like to see both in
    concert and in the R’n’R Hall of Fame.

  4. “Why isn’t ______ in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?” You can fill that with a million names. Connie Francis? Get in line.

  5. IT SEEMS TO ME THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF THINGS WHO NEVER TOOK THE EFFORT TO THOROUGHLY CHECK OUT ALL CONNIE FRANCIS IS, WHAT SHE HAS ACCOMPLISHED, AND WHAT AN INTERNATINAL SUPERSTAR SHE HAS BEEN. SHE SANG MANY OF HER HITS IN NINE (9) LANGUAGES!!!! SHE WAS BELOVED ALL OVER THE WORLD. SHE IS STILL DOING CONCERTS AND PACKING THEATERS…FANS STILL TRAVEL HERE FROM EUROPE TO SEE HER SHOWS. I KNOW BECAUSE I AM A DEVOTED FAN SINCE 1957….AND I LOVE HER AND HER MUSIC…SHE IS IT…FOR ME!! SHE IS WAY MORE IMPORTANT AND TALENTED THAN SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE THE HALL OF FAME! IT IS JUST PLAIN REDICULOUS THAT SHE HAS NOT BEEN INSTALLED!!! WAKE UP!!

  6. Again I say….Why, Why, Why? hasn’t she been inducted. This has been going on for sometime now. If I were her I would refuse. After all we who love her and have followed her thru-out her career need not see her in the Hall of Fame. I would rather see her in person to this very day. Thanks Connie

  7. I`m totally disgusted with the Hall Connie is a legend and deserves to be there I have been a fan since she began her great career her accomplishments speak for themselves 16 Gold records there is not enough space here to list them all.Connie is still performing to this day in sold out concerts and she`s a terrific person most loyal to her fans.Hall of Shame get your act together!!!

  8. Phill Marder has written the best summary I’ve read on why Connie Francis deserves to be in the R&R Hall of Fame…but she had 16 Top 10 hits, not 15, Phill! Thanks for the great article! BTW, I saw Connie in Lancaster, PA on Feb 13th. What an awesome talent and a terrific lady!

  9. Thanks Terry. And you’re right…it was 16. Math was not my strongest subject. Come to think of it, neither was journalism. But it’s comforting to know when I goof, one of our astute readers will correct me.

  10. I’ve reread Phill Marder’s article several times and just want to thank him again for such a powerful article on the incongruity of Connie Francis not being in the R&R Hall of Fame. I believe Hall of Fames in the entertainment business (including sports) generate great respect when they have admission standards that are clear and consistent. The Baseball and NFL Hall of Fames do pretty well (overall) on both counts in my view. The R&R Hall of Fame’s admission standards are not clear and are terribly inconsistent. Percy Sledge…really? Brenda Lee but not Connie Francis…really? The Dave Clark Five and Neil Diamond waited an awfully long time for admission…let’s hope that Connie Francis’ day will come soon.

  11. There isn’t any reason why Connie Francis hasn’t been inducted yet. Politics, and big bucks maybe . . . for the right price you can buy anything. In due time, if not there’s a better place to get inducted into. God knows, music better than any critic. Peace & Love always to Connie!~

  12. Considering all the great artist who have been overlooked by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I would take it as an honor NOT being inducted.
    So many of the “stars” that have been inducted are jokes….most couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket!

  13. I am only 26 today, but when I was younger, my grandpa used to listen to nostalgic radio. Connie Francis’s Who’s sorry now, was the first song I have ever heard from her, not too long after that I discovered her rock hits. As I started entering my teens I was still listening to Connie and discovered some of her underground rock hits that were nothing less than PHENOMENAL and so under rated, Like “Fallin” and “Eighteen” which sounded so misbehaved for such a young girl. She is the epitome of rock and roll, defiant, misbehaved, an original entity that could be matched by no other and a girl with such a devilish charm about her. I used to watch re-run’s of show’s that she was on, and still do to this day, via You Tube, and I have got to say, what a charmer she was. She is Golden. I am so ashamed with the rock and roll hall of fame, even when I wrote them to ask why, I got some silly response of how the whole thing works, and for every 45 people that want her in the rock and roll hall of fame, there will be 68 who won’t. I don’t believe it, if anyone knew what rock and roll was, they would know that the 68 that do not, should look into another genre, cause they DEFINITELY do not know Rock and Roll!

  14. Does not make any sense at all that she has not been inducted in the rock and roll hall of fame, also does not make any sense that there has been no dvd release of her concerts. Cannot understand that.

  15. CONNIE FFRANCISWA WAS THE GRAETEST SINGER OF HER GENERATION. SHE NOT ONLY DESERVES TOBE IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME BUT THE COUNTRY HALL OF FAME,AND THE MUSIC HALL OF FAME.IF SHE WAS ENGLISH SHE WOULD SURELY BE A DAME, NOT ONLY FOR HER CONTRIBUTION TO MUSIC BUT HER CHARITY WORK LETS NOT FORGET THAT. SHE DESERVES TO BE RECOGNISED FOR THE PLEASURE SHE HAS GIVEN TO THE WORLD.

  16. I grew up loving Connie Francis and collected all her 45′s. It’s unfortunate that Connie has been ignored by RRHF all these years. In a video interview that I had the pleasure to view, Connie states that getting into the RRHF is all political and if they would ever honor her into the HALL, she would decline the nomination. Good for your dear Connie.

  17. I keep waiting for one of her concerts since I always loved her voice and bought her Italian recordins as well as English. My favourite was Italian favourite with Roman guitar, mamma, Dimmi quando quando quando, and so on. The the Rock and Roll of her later years. I hope that she will perform in my area one day.

  18. What we really should be pushing for is to have Connie honored by the Kennedy Center. I believe that we should petition President Obama to make that happen.

  19. I agree with the Kennedy Center. After all, what other artist recorded an album specifically with all proceeds going to the Center for Performing Arts. I wrote to them about a year ago and they stated that they would “take it under consideration”. As far as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not big deal. Connie is great and she has more honors than anyone. There are way too many greats not included. But damn, I love this woman

  20. I am born in 1962 and I grew up listening to Connie Francis. She is one of my all time favorite. I am the baby in my family and the older kids listened to her records. This is how I discovered her. She was one of my dad’s favorite also. What gets me is that they inducted people that had no influence on the rock and roll music. Darlene Love!? I was just floored when I read she was inducted. What did she really do? Madonna?! This woman has done nothing but lowered the standards for women in the music industry. She is rude and vulgar. Is that what it takes to be inducted now? I’ve been saying for years that they should have a Music Hall of Fame which would include all styles from Clasical music to Hip Hop. Why putting aside any musical styles? I am not saying that I am a fan of all the music genre, but they all deserve their place in a Music Hall of Fame. That would basically destroy the Rock & Roll Music Hall of Fame.
    Sylvain – keep watching this website & Goldmine’s print issues. You may get your wish in the near future.

  21. Without a doubt the greatest singer of ALL TIME (Men or women)!!! The reason she is not in the rock & roll hall of fame is because the folks that run the rock & roll hall of fame are idiots. I’m surprised they pick anyone to be in the hall. They wouldn’t know a hall of fame singer or group if it jumped up and bit them in the butt!!!

  22. I still get chills when I hear her sing. What a time-line memory. Please honor a sweet woman with a magic voice.

  23. Connie not in the RRHOF? As a baby-boomer who grew up on Connie Francis records, I think this is ridiculous! After years & years of putting up with the R&R Hall of Fame’s stupid reasons for induction into their Hall, I am beginning to see the light. Their election or nomination committee contain elitists who are not knowledgeable on the history of rock & roll.

    There needs to be a great “house-cleaning” at the Hall in Cleveland and their induction process needs to be revamped to allow more of the public into the process. As it is, their “committees” are bereft of considering artists who exemplified “the spirit of rock and roll.” Connie Francis is an artist that certainly had that spirit in her music. I could have gagged when I heard that a band like Guns & Roses had been inducted into the Hall recently.

    The Hall had better acknowledge FIRST the early artists like Connie who laid down the foundations of this music for later artists. Without those early artists makng their contributions & paying their dues, it made possible for others in latter decades to have careers or sorts. I for one will continue to hound the Rock & Roll Hall of SHAME about ignoring Connie Francis.

  24. I certainly believe that Connie Francis should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I’ve looked at the Hall of Fame’s website & have tried to understand their induction process. The process seems to be closed to the rock & roll public. They have so-called rock & roll “experts” who make all these induction decisions based on some weird agenda. Perhaps Connie’s fans should start a grass roots movement to influence the Hall of Fame to induct her? I noticed on Chubby Checker’s website that his fans have already launched a “movement” to get him inducted. Can you imagine, artists like Connie Francis & Chubby Checker not being in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame??? Something’s definitely WRONG here!

  25. Totally inappropriate to not have Connie in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was able to take standards and give them a rock beat, introduced new light rock songs to the world and is an international singing sensation. Brenda Lee is there and Connie should be as well.

  26. Connie Francis should have definitely been one of the first inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Her hit records speak for themselves. She was voted Best Female Vocalist by fans all over the world for four years in a row on American Bandstand. There is definitely something very wrong why Connie has not been inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. In the late 50′s and early 60′s, she 15 hit records in the Top Ten Of Billboard. Anyhow, I hope the people who nominate the artists into the Hall do not cointinually overlook Connie Francis. Her place in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame should have been secured a long time ago.

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