I've long held that if any band deserved to be in there, it was Rush, but they have been denied for so long, that their exclusion was more of a badge of honor than anything else, at this point...
Yes indeed. In the early days everyone could pretty much agree, yes, Roy Orbison and the Beatles and Dylan... pretty obvious who should go in. But "rock and roll" splintered and sprawled so much in the '70s and '80s that the number of eligible artists who have been passed over now is fairly staggering.
I'm going to disagree with you a bit here Justin. I think it really has been just the opposite of what you state above. "Rock and roll" in it's early days (the days of Little Richard, early Chuck Berry and early Elvis) encompassed most "popular" music. By "popular", I mean music listened to by "young people".
Beginning in the 70's, "rock and roll" began to be thought of as music that featured out-front guitars played mostly by long haired white guys exclusively. IMO, radio and the rock media (Rolling Stone especially) was to blame for much of this with the creation of FM "rock" stations that played only the aforementioned type music and identified it, and only "it", as "true" rock and roll. Now, many people particularly those born during and after the 70's think that rock and roll is this narrowly defined thing. It really wasn't that way through the 50's and 60's.
But, all that being said, my personal tipping point with the Rock HOF was the inclusion of Madonna, not because she "doesn't play rock", though. It is because I just don't think she is important enough musically to be included. This is my main gripe with some other inductees too.
I don't know all that much about Rush, but I'v heard a fair amount of their music in the last few years and it is easy to see that these fools can play like a mother_______. So, good on them for making it in. I tend now to think of a band who is inducted as being "HOF worthy" even if the HOF into which they are admitted has some questionable members.