Artists Across Genres Join Hall

Sheryl Crow and Olivia Rodrigo kick off the party, and a Missy Elliott extravaganza wraps it up
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2023 5:40 PM CDT
Artists Across Genres Join Hall
Ice-T speaks during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, at Barclays Center in New York.   (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Generations and genres mixed onstage Friday night at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in New York City. Performing combinations included Sheryl Crow and Olivia Rodrigo; H.E.R., Sia, Common, and Chaka Khan; and 90-year-old Willie Nelson with Dave Matthews, Chris Stapleton, and Crow, per the Hollywood Reporter. Willie Nelson noted the unimportance of categories when telling the audience about his collaborations with the late Ray Charles. "We never asked each other what to do or whether to do a soul song or a rock song or a country song," Nelson said, "we just sang the songs we loved." After more than four hours of speeches and music, Missy Elliott's finale brought down the house. The evening honored:

  • Sheryl Crow: "This is a little bit like getting an Oscar for a screenplay you have not finished writing," Crow said after being joined for performances by Stevie Nicks and Peter Frampton, in addition to the show-opener, "If It Makes You Happy," with Rodrigo. Crow thanked her parents for unconditional love and piano lessons.
  • George Michael: Andrew Ridgeley said his Wham! partner's music "was key to his compassion. George is one of the greatest singers of our time." Miguel, Carrie Underwood, and Adam Levine each performed a hit of Michael's.
  • Rage Against the Machine: Ice-T introduced the political activist punk rockers, saying, "Rock rocks the boat." Only Tom Morello attended, which he attributed to his bandmates' varied views on the honor. He called on the audience to forge a world "without compromise or apologies."
  • Kate Bush: Rapper Big Boi of Outkast told the crowd he's the "biggest Kate Bush fan." Bush wasn't there; St. Vincent sang "Running Up That Hill" for her. "What I love about Kate's music is that I never know what sound I'm going to hear next," Big Boi said.
  • The Spinners: New Edition nailed the group's choreography, per Yahoo Entertainment, while performing—in crushed velvet dinner jackets—a medley of hits capped by "Rubberband Man."
  • Bernie Taupin: The lyricist's longtime collaborator came out of retirement for the occasion—Taupin was honored for musical excellence—when Elton John played "Tiny Dancer." In his remarks, Taupin mocked Jann Wenner, the Rolling Stone co-founder who was dropped from the hall foundation's board when comments he made about female and minority artists came to light. "I'm honored to be in the class of 2023 alongside a group of such profoundly 'articulate' women and outstanding 'articulate' Black artists," Taupin said, per Deadline.
  • Chaka Khan, Al Kooper: The singer of funky hits, who had been nominated seven times, and the instrumentalist-producer received awards for musical excellence.
  • Kool Herc, Link Wray: The DJ and the guitarist who invented the power chord were honored for musical influence. Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page surprised the crowd by performing "Rumble" in honor of the late Wray.
  • Don Cornelius: The late Soul Train creator and host received the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which honors industry influencers who are not musicians. A large sign from the show was lowered into view as the crowd danced.
  • Willie Nelson: Dave Matthews praised Nelson's ongoing work with Farm Aid and other causes. "Willie is an example of how the world would be if we could just straighten up and fly right," said Matthews. After the group performance of Nelson songs, the inductee received a lengthy standing ovation. He wrote his first song at age 7 in 1940 and has released more than 70 albums.
  • Missy Elliott: "Nothing sounded the same after Missy came onto the scene," Queen Latifah told the audience. "She is avant garde without even trying." Elliott became the first female hip-hop artist in the hall, per the AP. She teared up during her acceptance speech. "This is the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, so this is deeper than me just being up here," Elliott said. "You just feel like it's so far to reach when you're in the hip-hop world." For the finale, Elliott arrived onstage in a spaceship, accompanied by smoke machines and a light show, then launched into a medley kicked off by "Get Ur Freak On." Latifah said, "If that ain't rock 'n' roll, I don't know what is."
(More Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stories.)

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