Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius and the late george michael have all been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with Kate Bush also reaching the top of that hill. The Cleveland-based institution announced the artists and bands entering the venue as the Class of 2023 on Wednesday, a list that includes The Spinners, Rage Against the Machine, DJ Kool Herc, Link Wray, Al Kooper and co-composer of longtime Elton John, Bernie Taupin. .
“When you can go from Link Wray, who was an early influencer, to Missy Elliott and Kate Bush and The Spinners and Rage Against the Machine and Willie Nelson, you have a very diverse job. Which we always try to show that rock ‘n’ roll is a big tent and a lot of people belong there,” Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation said ahead of the unveiling.
Elliott – the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of FameMTV Video Vanguard Award winner and four-time Grammy Award winner – now becomes rock hall’s first female hip-hop artist, who has called her “a true trailblazer in a male-dominated genre.”
Artists must have released their first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to being eligible for induction. Eight out of 14 nominees were on the ballot for the first time, including Crow, Elliott, Michael and Nelson. This is the first year of eligibility for Elliott.
Nelson, who wrote some of country music’s biggest hits, celebrated his 90th birthday Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl, where generations of stars sang his tribute songs.
Bush was nominated last year but did not make the final cut then. She entered this year due to a new wave of popularity after the show “Stranger Things” featured her song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)”. The hall praised her for “using lush soundscapes, radical experimentation, literary themes, sampling and theatricality to captivate audiences and inspire countless musicians”.
Michael, first as a member of Wham! then as a solo artist, was cited for “blazing the trail for a generation of proud LGBTQIA+ artists, from Sam Smith to Lil Nas X to Troye Sivan” and Nelson was simply described as “an American institution “.
The Hall called DJ Kool Herc “a founding father of hip-hop music” who “helped create the blueprint for hip-hop”. And Chaka Khan has been described as “one of the most powerful and influential voices in music”, a “streetwise yet sultry hip-hop-soul diva”, who paved the way for women like Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae.
The Spinners became a hit machine with four No. 1 R&B hits in less than 18 months, including “I’ll Be Around” and “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love.” Rock guitarist Wray was said to be ahead of his time, influencing Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen.
Taupin, who entered the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the biopic “Rocketman,” makes his rock hall debut 29 years after his partner of writing, John.
Cornelius was celebrated for creating a national television platform for African American music and culture. He “became a visionary entrepreneur who opened the door – and kept it open – for many others to follow.”
“Does a Willie Nelson fan know anything about Missy Elliott? Probably not, and vice versa,” Peresman said. “But this is an opportunity for someone who loves one of these artists to take a look and say, ‘Oh, I love Missy Elliott’ or ‘I love Rage Against the Machine ‘But the Spinners, who were they?’ If it can open some minds and open some attitudes, then we’ve done our job.”
Nominees Iron Maiden, Cyndi Lauper, A Tribe Called Quest, The White Stripes, Warren Zevon, Joy Division/New Order and Soundgarden did not earn a seat in the room this time around. While the late Zevon has been eligible since 1994, Billy Joel campaigned unsuccessfully for entry, writing to the nominating committee urging them to consider Zevon.
Nominees were voted on by more than 1,000 artists, historians and music industry professionals. Fans could vote online or in person at the museum, with the top five artists chosen by the public making up a “fan ballot” which was counted along with the other professional ballots.