Kate Bush, first-timers Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow lead Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2023 inductees

Other long-overdue inductees include Chaka Khan, Rage Against the Machine, the Spinners, DJ Kool Herc and Link Wray.

Clockwise: Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson (Photos: Getty Images)
Clockwise: Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson (Photos: Getty Images)

This year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 has just been announced and, in an ongoing effort to include more women in the Hall, among the seven inductees in the Performer category are three iconic female artists: Kate Bush, Missy Elliott and Sheryl Crow, the latter two being first-time nominees. Also being inducted, via the Music Excellence Award category, is soul-funk powerhouse Chaka Khan, who had been previously nominated a combined seven times, both as a solo artist and as a member of Rufus.

Elliott is the sixth solo hip-hop artist and 11th hip-hop artist overall to get into the Hall, but she is notably the first female artist of the genre to receive this honor.

When speaking with Yahoo Entertainment earlier this year, shortly after she was nominated in her first year of eligibility (artists can be nominated 25 years after the release of their first commercial recording), Elliott was still in “pinch-me mode.” However, she fully appreciated the importance of her inclusion, saying, “There haven't been any female MCs [nominated for the Rock Hall]. And so, to be the first, it is not even about necessarily me — more so that doors will be open for women, because we do work hard. If I'm blessed to be inducted, I most definitely am going to give it up for all of those women before me. … I think this would be big for female artists, and for rap, period.”

Bush is finally in on her fourth try, having gone from Hall underdog to front of the class, thanks to Stranger Things making her 1985 single “Running Up That Hill” a surprise 2022 hit. The English art-pop chanteuse was nominated in 2018, 2021 and 2022, but just one month after last year’s voting window closed, “Running Up That Hill,” which had originally peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, was featured in a key scene of the supernatural Netflix series — causing Bush’s moody ballad to jump to No. 3 in the U.S. and go to No. 1 in multiple other countries, 37 long years after its release. Bush even established a new chart record the oldest female artist to ever have a No. 1 hit in Britain. Bush’s induction is long overdue, but it is unlikely that the famously reclusive artist will actually perform or appear at this year’s ceremony. Bush only toured once, in 1979, then did not perform any other full live shows until 2014, when she staged her 22-date Before the Dawn residency at London's Eventim Apollo.

Along with Crow and Elliott, this year’s other first-time nominees who are being inducted are late British singer-songwriter George Michael, one of the best-selling musicians of all time as both a solo artist and as the creative force in pop duo Wham!, who won this year's fan vote, and country legend Willie Nelson. The latter, who just celebrated his big birthday with a weekend-long, star-studded affair at the Hollywood Bowl and recently told Yahoo Entertainment he's “still having fun” touring and gigging regularly, incredibly had to wait until age 90 to get in. However, it seems that his peer Dolly Parton’s much-debated Class of 2022 induction, which Parton herself initially protested, opened doors for his nomination and eventual induction.

Among the 2023 inductees who, like Bush, have been nominated before are ’90s political provocateurs Rage Against the Machine (on their five try) and Philly soul vocal group the Spinners (their fourth).


The Performer category nominees that were passed over this year were progressive hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest, Seattle rockers Soundgarden, U.K. metal titans Iron Maiden, late L.A. singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, feminist pop star Cyndi Lauper, Detroit garage-rock duo the White Stripes, and an interesting dual nomination, Manchester post-punk pioneers Joy Division/New Order. The latter three were first-time nominees.

Joining Chaka Khan in 2023’s Music Excellence Award category, which recognizes “artists, musicians, songwriters, and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music,” are ’60s folk legend Al Kooper and longtime Elton John songwriting collaborator Bernie Taupin. This year’s recipients of the Musical Influence Award, which goes to “artists whose music and performance style have directly influenced, inspired, and evolved rock ‘n’ roll and music impacting youth culture,” are two long-overlooked trailblazers: DJ Kool Herc, who originated breakbeat DJing, and late rockabilly guitar legend Link Wray. The Ahmet Ertegun Award, which recognizes the music industry’s non-performers, will go to late Soul Train creator, host, and producer Don Cornelius.

“This year’s incredible group of Inductees reflects the diverse artists and sounds that define rock ‘n’ roll,” John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday morning. “We are honored that this November’s induction ceremony in New York will coincide with two milestones in music culture: the 90th birthday of Willie Nelson and the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop.”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Friday, Nov. 3 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, with a TV special to air on HBO at a later date. The event’s performers and presenters will be announced later this year.

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