Awards

With Don Everly's Death, Just One of the Inaugural Rock Hall Inductees Is Still Living

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum
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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum building, designed by architect by I. M. Pei in Cleveland, Ohio.

They called him "The Killer."

And then there was one. With Don Everly’s death on Saturday (Aug. 21), just one artist from the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still living. The sole survivor from that first induction class is "The Killer," Jerry Lee Lewis, who is 85.

That inaugural class in 1986 consisted of nine solo artists and a duo, The Everly Brothers.

Three of the first-year’s inductions were made posthumously. Buddy Holly had died in a plane crash in 1959 at age 22, Sam Cooke was shot to death in 1964 at 33, and Elvis Presley had died of cardiac arrest in 1977 at 42.

Seven of the inaugural inductees were alive at the time of the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Jan. 23, 1986, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, but have since died. Ray Charles died in 2004 at 73, followed by James Brown in 2006 at 73, Phil Everly in 2014 at 74, Chuck Berry inJame 2017 at 90, Fats Domino in 2017 at 89, Little Richard in 2020 at 87 and now Don Everly at 84.

Here’s a quick look at the inaugural class, showing the artist’s highest-charting hit(s) on the Billboard Hot 100 (or predecessor charts) and the name of the person who inducted them into the Rock Hall. For the five artists whose highest-charting hits occurred before the inception of the Hot 100 on Aug. 4, 1958, we also show their highest charting Hot 100 hit.

Chuck Berry

Top hit: “My Ding-a-Ling,” No. 1  in 1972

Inducted by: Keith Richards

James Brown

Top hit: “I Got You (I Feel Good),” No. 3 in 1965

Inducted by: Steve Winwood

Ray Charles

Top hits: Three No. 1 hits: “Georgia on My Mind” in 1960, “Hit the Road Jack” in 1961 and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” in 1962

Inducted by: Quincy Jones

Sam Cooke

Top hit: “You Send Me,” No. 1 in 1957. Top Hot 100 hit: “Chain Gang,” No. 2 in 1960

Inducted by: Herb Alpert

Fats Domino

Top hit: “Blueberry Hill,” No. 2 in 1957. Top Hot 100 hits: “Whole Lotta Loving,” No. 6 in 1959, “Walkin’ to New Orleans,” No. 6 in 1960.

Inducted by: Billy Joel

The Everly Brothers

Top hits: Four No. 1 hits: “Wake Up Little Susie in 1957, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” in 1958, “Bird Dog” in 1958 and “Cathy’s Clown” in 1960. Only the latter song reached No. 1 on the Hot 100.

Inducted by: Neil Young

Buddy Holly

Top hit: “That’ll Be the Day” (The Crickets),” No. 1 in 1957. Top Hot 100 hit: “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” No. 13 in 1959.

Inducted by: John Fogerty

Jerry Lee Lewis

Top hit: “Great Balls of Fire,” No. 2 in 1958. Top Hot 100 hit: “What’d I Say,” No. 30 in 1961.

Inducted by: Hank Williams Jr.

Little Richard

Top hit: “Long Tall Sally,” No. 6 in 1956. Top Hot 100 hit: “Baby Face,” No. 41 in 1958.

Inducted by: Roberta Flack

Elvis Presley

Top hits: 17 No. 1 hits from “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956 to “Suspicious Minds” in 1969. Seven No. 1 hits on the Hot 100.

Inducted by: Julian and Sean Lennon