Tina Turner, Go-Go’s, Jay-Z lead 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees
Foo Fighters, the Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren and Tina Turner will join the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame later this year at its 36th induction ceremony, the organization announced on Wednesday.
The 2021 class — which, in a shift from last year, will be feted in person on Oct. 30 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland — represents a relatively broad mix of musical styles and traditions, including acts from hip-hop, R&B and alternative rock. It’s also notably long on women, hardly a given for the Rock Hall, which for years has faced criticism that it overvalues the work of older white men.
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When Janet Jackson was invited to join in 2019, she ended her acceptance speech by urging the group to “please induct more women.” Stevie Nicks, who that same year became the first woman to be inducted twice — she’d already been allowed in as a member of Fleetwood Mac — said proudly that she was “opening the door for other women to go, ‘Hey man, I can do it.’”
Indeed, King and Turner will follow Nicks’ example in October, earning second positions in the hall after being inducted previously alongside their creative partners (and ex-husbands), Gerry Goffin and Ike Turner, respectively. (The 2020 class included just a single woman, Whitney Houston, who died in 2012.)
In a statement, John Sykes, who last year took over from Jann Wenner as chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said, “This diverse class of talented inductees reflects the Hall’s ongoing commitment to honor artists whose music created the sound of youth culture.”
Nominees were voted on by a group of approximately 1,200 artists, executives, historians and journalists; 4.8 million votes from members of the public went toward one so-called fans’ ballot, which Turner carried, according to the statement.
Foo Fighters and the Go-Go’s — each from a different generation of punk-inspired rockers — were both voted in as first-time nominees; so was Jay-Z, who will join N.W.A, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. as high-profile rappers in the Rock Hall. (Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl is already in the hall as a member of Nirvana.)
But where Foo Fighters and Jay-Z both made the cut in their first year of eligibility, which the hall defines as 25 years after the release of an act’s first commercial recording, L.A.’s all-female Go-Go’s waited a decade and a half to be nominated after they became eligible in 2006.
Rundgren, the veteran pop eccentric known for hits such as “I Saw the Light” and “Bang the Drum All Day,” was finally voted in after being nominated in each of the last several years.
Nominated acts that didn’t make the cut for the 2021 class include three beloved soul and R&B stars — Dionne Warwick, Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige — as well as the Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, the rap-rock band Rage Against the Machine, heavy metal’s Iron Maiden, the post-punk group Devo, the English art-pop singer Kate Bush and the highly influential New York Dolls, whose guitarist Sylvain Sylvain died in January.
LL Cool J, the charismatic rapper whose nomination this year was his sixth, won’t be inducted as a performer but will receive the hall’s Musical Excellence Award, which is decided by a committee of insiders (as opposed to the voting membership) and which the hall says is “given to artists, musicians, songwriters and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music.”
The late metal guitarist Randy Rhoads and Billy Preston, the late keyboardist sometimes referred to as “the fifth Beatle,” will also receive the Musical Excellence Award, while the Early Influence Award will be given to Kraftwerk, Gil Scott-Heron and Charley Patton. Ninety-year-old Clarence Avant, an important behind-the-scenes mover widely regarded as a giant in Black music, will receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award, a commendation for executives named after the late Atlantic Records co-founder who started the Rock Hall with Rolling Stone’s Wenner in the mid-1980s.
October’s induction ceremony will be broadcast on SiriusXM satellite radio and will be taped for a special to be shown later on HBO. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 induction was presented only as a virtual affair on HBO. Beyond Houston and the Notorious B.I.G., the inductees were Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, T. Rex, Jon Landau and Irving Azoff.
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