Whitney Houston, Notorious B.I.G. lead diverse slate of 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston will join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in May along with the Notorious B.I.G., Nine Inch Nails, T. Rex, the Doobie Brothers and Depeche Mode.
(Los Angeles Times)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 class of inductees runs a gamut from shimmering R&B-laced pop and classic ’90s hip-hop to industrial rock and foursquare glam-rock with the selection of Whitney Houston, the Notorious B.I.G., Nine Inch Nails and T. Rex along with the Doobie Brothers and Depeche Mode, all of whom will join the hall’s ranks this spring.

The latest slate of inductees leaves behind the Dave Matthews Band, Kraftwerk, Motörhead, Thin Lizzy, MC5, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren and Judas Priest, who were among 16 acts on the final nomination ballot that didn’t make the cut for induction in 2020.

Doobie Brothers
The Doobie Brothers performing at Stagecoach in 2016. They are among the 2020 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

That ceremony is scheduled to take place May 2 in Cleveland at the Public Auditorium, near the hall’s headquarters and museum. It is open to the public and tickets will go on sale Feb. 27.

“We’re honoured to be included as one of this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and to stand alongside the other incredible acts in the Rock Hall and those joining this year,” Depeche Mode tweeted on Wednesday.


“Thanks to all who voted and made it possible,” the Doobie Brothers posted on the group’s Twitter account. Singer Michael McDonald further praised the diversity of the 2020 inductees in a comment to Rolling Stone. “Each of those bands has helped shape the form that rock & roll has taken over the years,” McDonald said. “That’s what I like to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame do: pick those bands that have sculpted what we see rock & roll as today.”

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor said he was “freaked out” at the news, adding, “When I look back at how Nine Inch Nails are received, it always seems like we fall between the cracks. I don’t know if it’s a defense mechanism, but I just assumed we’d stay in that category, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see us acknowledged,” he told Rolling Stone. “It feels pretty good … I’m allowing myself, for a limited period of time, to feel good about this.”

If there’s a surprise in this year’s group of inductees it is that just one of the artists chosen — the Doobie Brothers — reached the top five of the hall’s fan voting. The other most popular nominees were the Dave Matthews Band, which logged just over 1 million fan votes followed by Pat Benatar (882,000 votes), the Doobies (nearly 785,000), Soundgarden (just under 723,000) and Judas Priest (675,000).

Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The top five vote-getters on the fan ballot generate just one vote apiece for each of those acts, which is added to the total from the hall’s 1,000 or so voting members. But the fan poll demonstrates to voters which acts those fans are most enthusiastic about.


In the quick-turnaround department, four of the new inductees made it after appearing on the ballot for the first time: Houston, Notorious B.I.G., the Doobies and T. Rex.

In addition, the hall’s Ahmet Ertegun Award to significant music industry figures will go to superstar manager Irving Azoff and rock critic-turned-talent-manager Jon Landau.

For the first time, the induction ceremony will be carried live on HBO, which previously had aired taped highlights in weeks after the actual event.

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