The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has announced the inductees for its 2023 class, and it’s a diverse mix of trailblazers who have left an indelible mark on the music industry. Among them are Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius, and the late George Michael. Additionally, Kate Bush has finally reached the top of the hill after being nominated last year but not making the cut.
The list of inductees also includes The Spinners, Rage Against the Machine, DJ Kool Herc, Link Wray, Al Kooper, and Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s longtime co-songwriter.
Joel Peresman, the president and CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, emphasized that the institution’s aim is to showcase that rock ‘n’ roll is a big tent, and a lot of people belong. The hall recognizes artists who have released their first commercial recording at least 25 years before they’re eligible for induction.
This year, eight out of 14 nominees were on the ballot for the first time, including Crow, Elliott, Michael, and Nelson. This is also the first year of eligibility for Elliott.
Elliott, the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, is now the first female hip-hop artist in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The hall called her “a true pathbreaker in a male-dominated genre.” She is also an MTV Video Vanguard Award recipient and a four-time Grammy Award winner.
The late George Michael, first as a member of Wham! and then as a solo artist, was cited for “paving the way for a generation of proud LGBTQIA+ artists, from Sam Smith to Lil Nas X to Troye Sivan.” Willie Nelson, at 90 years old, was described as “an American institution.”
The hall hailed DJ Kool Herc as “a founding father of hip-hop music” who “helped create the blueprint for hip-hop.” Chaka Khan was described as “one of the mightiest and most influential voices in music,” a “streetwise but sensual hip-hop-soul diva” who paved the way for women like Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, and Janelle Monáe.
The Spinners became a hit-making 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.
Bernie Taupin, who made it into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and has a Golden Globe and an Oscar for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the biopic “Rocketman,” makes it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 29 years after his writing partner, Elton John.
Don Cornelius was celebrated for creating a nationally televised platform for African American music and culture. He “became a visionary entrepreneur who opened the door — and held it open — for many others to follow him through.”
Nominees Iron Maiden, Cyndi Lauper, A Tribe Called Quest, The White Stripes, Warren Zevon, Joy Division/New Order, and Soundgarden didn’t earn a spot in the hall