On Wednesday morning (May 3), the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame revealed the inductees for the Rock Hall’s Class of 2023.
The performer category boasts a stacked lineup of inductees gaining entrance: Kate Bush, the art rock cult fave whose idiosyncratic and undersung impact was propelled into the mainstream by an inescapable Stranger Things sync in 2022; Sheryl Crow, the rootsy yet polished hitmaker who draws on rock, folk, country and pop; Missy Elliott, the forward-thinking hip-hop mastermind behind a string of mind-bending classic albums; George Michael, the blue-eyed soul pop king who died in 2016; Willie Nelson, an outlaw country exemplar turned beloved elder statesman; Rage Against the Machine, a politically motivated rap-rock firebrand force; and The Spinners, a long-running vocal group who achieved their greatest success as a smooth soul outfit in the ‘70s.
That’s not all. The “musical influence award” sees DJ Kool Herc – the Bronx-based DJ whose breakbeat-focused turntable techniques are widely cited as the clearest starting point of hip-hop music – enters the Rock Hall; presumably, it’s not a coincidence his induction aligns with the year the music industry is celebrating as the 50th anniversary of hip-hop as a genre. The same category sees the induction of Link Wray, the distortion guitar rock rebel credited with inventing the power chord.
The “musical excellence award” invites three additional acts: Frequent Rock Hall nominee and funk queen Chaka Khan finally sees induction this year, as does Al Kooper, an invaluable player and/or producer on key recordings from Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blood, Sweat & Tears. In the same category, Bernie Taupin – Elton John’s longtime lyricist whose poetic and imaginative take on American folklore set a new standard for rock songwriting – is also inducted.
Finally, Don Cornelius – who hosted the R&B and Black culture bedrock Soul Train on TV from 1970-1993 – is inducted with the Ahmet Ertegun Award.
The Rock Hall’s Class of 2023 sees four of the seven performer inductees gaining entrance on their first nomination: Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael and Willie Nelson; of those four, Elliott was the only artist eligible for the first time in 2023.
To be eligible for the Rock Hall, an artist’s first commercial release must have come out at least 25 years prior to the nomination year. [Though Elliott’s first album was released in 1997, the nominating committee at the Rock Hall recently started meeting the same year the inductees are honored, as opposed to the year before. This means 2023 is a sort of “make-up year” for artists whose first release was in 1997 or 1998, which explains 2023 being Elliott’s first year of eligibility.]
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Nov. 3. Ticket information will be announced in the future.