Missy Elliott, George Michael, enter Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Missy Elliott, George Michael, Kate Bush enter Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

/ 01:25 PM November 04, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 08: Missy Elliott speaks onstage during her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony at Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Emma McIntyre / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

FILE. Missy Elliott speaks onstage during her Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony at Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

NEW YORK — A coterie of music’s A-listers convened in Brooklyn Friday, Nov. 3, to celebrate this year’s class of legends entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, among them Missy Elliott and the late George Michael.

Rock experimentalist Kate Bush, agitators Rage Against the Machine, country icon Willie Nelson, heartland rocker Sheryl Crow and R&B group The Spinners round out the 2023 class of inductees.


Chaka Khan, Al Kooper and Bernie Taupin were to receive the Hall’s musical excellence awards. DJ Kool Herc and Link Wray, meanwhile, were to be inducted as “influences” and the late creator of “Soul Train,” Don Cornelius, was to receive a non-performer honor.


The Cleveland-based Hall of Fame—which surveyed more than 1,000 musicians, historians and industry members to choose the entrants—were to honor the acts in a star-studded gala concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

For some time now the institution has defined “rock” less in terms of genre than of spirit, with a number of rap, pop, R&B and country stars included.

Elliott becomes the first woman in hip-hop—a constantly evolving genre that this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary—to enter the music pantheon. The “Lose Control” and “Get Ur Freak On” rapper made the cut in her first year of eligibility.

Artists can be inducted 25 years after their first commercial music release.

Fellow rap star Queen Latifah was to induct Elliott, who called the honor “a blessing” in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” show.

It’s particularly poignant given hip-hop’s milestone anniversary, Elliott said: “No matter what people say, the hip-hop world is something special and unique.”


But Bush said in a statement Friday that she “won’t be able to attend” without specifying why, adding that “for me the real honor is knowing that you felt I deserved it.”

“I am completely blown away by this huge honor—an award that sits in the big beating heart of the American music industry,” Bush said in a statement on her website.

“Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. I never imagined I would be given this wonderful accolade.”

‘Progress’ on inclusion

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a music industry pillar that, much like the Recording Academy that runs the Grammys, has in recent years worked to revamp its image—long criticized as too masculine and too white.

The likes of Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Madonna are members—but women represent fewer than 100 of the nearly 1,000 Hall inductees since 1986.

The Hall of Fame’s image problem resurfaced earlier this year, when Jann Wenner—one of the Hall’s board members who helped start the institution—made comments disparaging women and people of color in an interview with The New York Times about his book “The Masters.”

The 77-year-old Wenner, who cofounded Rolling Stone magazine in 1967, featured seven white men including Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen in his book.

Queried about the absence of women and people of color, Wenner said none could “articulate” on the level of “philosophers of rock.”

The comments were widely eviscerated as racist and sexist, and Wenner was swiftly axed from the Hall’s board of directors.

In a recent interview Hall of Fame Chairman John Sykes emphasized efforts to “update the general voting body” to “reflect the artists that are eligible” for the Hall.

“I want to make sure the voting body is young and diverse enough to really make the most educated decisions about who should be inducted,” he told The New York Times.

Sykes underscored the women inducted in recent years, including Bush, Elliott and Crow this year: “We have to do better, but we’re making progress.”

As for the ever-shifting definition of rock, the chairman interpreted it as “what’s moving youth culture.”

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Rock and roll, Sykes said, is “what a 16-year-old is obsessed with.”

TAGS: George Michael, Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, rock & roll hall of fame

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