After long waits, The Spinners, Rage Against the Machine, and Kate Bush are all heading into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Missy Elliott is being inducted in her first year of eligibility. Joining them are pop-rock icon Sheryl Crow, pop master George Michael, and country music outlaw and legend Willie Nelson. Iron Maiden will have to continue their wait.
Artists are eligible for the Rock Hall as performers 25 years from their first commercial release. Previously, they were only eligible “after” 25 years (or in their 26th year) because music can be released at any time throughout a given year. This ensured a full 25 years from the first release for all eligible artists for a given year. However, the Hall is now going by the 25th year, as reported by Billboard:
“For those with an encyclopedic music knowledge who think, ‘wait, Missy [Elliott]’s debut Supa Dupa Fly dropped in 1997, and The White Stripes’ first single came out in 1998 – how does that math work out?’ there’s a reason for it. The nominating committee at the Rock Hall has 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. But in the future, when it comes to Rock Hall nominations, you can subtract 25 from the induction year to determine eligibility.”
So this year had two newly eligible classes (1997 and 1998). The only other criterion for induction “include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.” Voters (music journalists and historians, industry professionals) look at popularity, longevity, influence, style, technicality, innovation and progression, and more when making their decisions to cast a vote. The artists receiving the most votes are inducted, as long as they were marked off on at least 50% of the returned ballots, which range from 500 to 800 each year.
Award for Musical Excellence
Rock legend Chaka Khan; composer, producer, and instrumentalist Al Kooper; and songwriter Bernie Taupin will be inducted in the Award for Musical Excellence Category. The Award for Musical Excellence enshrines artists in the Rock Hall for having “dedicated their lives” to progressing music and who have “achieved a level of timeless distinction.” These artists have not been inducted in the performers category. It is unclear if they could still be inducted in that category. It is also unclear if this award is more prestigious than being inducted as a performer.
Ahmet Ertegun Award
Creator, producer, and host of Soul Train, Don Cornelius, will be inducted in the Ahmet Ertegun Award category. The Ahmet Ertegun Award is given to people who have had a “major influence” on rock music, and is usually given to industry leaders (executives, producers, songwriters, etc.), journalists, and other non-performers.
Hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc and influential guitarist and lyricist Link Wray will be inducted in the Early Influence category. Wray also provides some representation for the glaring lack of Native American artists in the Hall.
To learn more about the people and artists to be inducted on November 3, 2023, read their synopses on the Rock Hall website (scroll down).
The artists on the ballot this year who were not inducted are A Tribe Called Quest, Iron Maiden, a joint nomination for Joy Division/New Order, Cyndi Lauper, Soundgarden, The White Stripes, and Warren Zevon.