Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, and Bernie Taupin will receive the Musical Excellence Award; DJ Kool Herc and Link Wray will be presented with the Musical Influence Award; and Don Cornelius is getting the Ahmet Ertegun Award.
The induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Details of the TV broadcast will be announced at a later date.
“We’re very happy with this year’s class,” says Rock & Roll Hall of Fame CEO and President Joel Peresman. “People always try to pigeonhole what rock & roll is, but our story has always been that it’s a wide tent. It includes all different kinds of genres. We think this class really shows the breadth of rock & roll. When you have Missy Elliott, Sheryl Crow, and the Spinners along with Rage Against the Machine and Willie Nelson, you’re covering a lot of things.”
The induction of Nelson caps off an incredible week for the country icon — he turned 90 and celebrated with a two-day all-star concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
For Bush, the honor follows a groundswell of renewed interest in her work thanks to the repeated use of her 1985 classic “Running Up That Hill” on the newest Stranger Things season. This caused the tune to chart again across the globe, hitting Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100 in America. Prior to that, she’d never seen any of her songs go beyond Number 30 in the states. “I just can’t believe it,” she wrote to fans when the song peaked last year. “It’s all starting to feel a bit surreal.”
Bush has never toured America, and she’s played live only on very-select occasions throughout her career. “I hope she comes and performs,” says Peresman. “We open that door. It’s up to her. We would love for her to do it. It would be a good opportunity for people to experience her and learn more about her. That’s part of our mission: It’s to teach and engage people about all kinds of inductees. Not everyone who is familiar with Kate Bush will be familiar with the Spinners, and vice versa. If they can each learn about each other, that’s part of our job.”
Rage Against the Machine are entering the Hall of Fame after appearing on six ballots. “There’s a funny mix of people that do the voting,” guitarist Tom Morello told Rolling Stone in March. “It’s people that are already in. There’s an age component. There’s a leaning-mainstream component as well. … If you saw any of the Rage Against the Machine shows last summer, you’d be hard-pressed to make an argument against us.”
Rage reunited for a tour in 2022 following an 11-year absence from the road, but the tour was called off after just 19 concerts when frontman Zack de la Rocha tore an Achilles tendon. Speaking with Rolling Stone in March, Morello said he didn’t know if the band would perform at the ceremony if they were inducted. “I will definitely be there. Beyond that, we haven’t discussed that. … I would hope so, though.”
Back in 2015, Rage bassist Tim Commerford was asked about the possibility of the band reuniting at the event. “If Rage gets inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, it’ll be interesting to see who shows up,” he told Rolling Stone. “I think it’s pretty obvious. I think there’s somebody who’s going to show up and somebody who’s not going to show up, and maybe somebody who’s going to show up with an enema filled with food coloring and shit all over the red carpet.”
Musical Excellence Award winner Khan wasn’t on the ballot this year, but she has appeared on four of them in the past. “She deserves to be recognized,” says Peresman. “The Musical Excellence Award, which we’re also giving to Al Kooper and Bernie Taupin, is given out by [a committee of] people that know what they’re talking about and understand the importance of these people. Going back a couple of years, they were right to recognize LL Cool J with it, too.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, making it a perfect time to induct DJ Kool Herc. The ceremony will take place just 15 miles from the Bronx apartment building where he essentially invented the genre back in 1973. “It just kind of worked out that we’re back in Brooklyn for the anniversary,” says Peresman. “But the timing couldn’t have been better.”
The ceremony hasn’t been held in Brooklyn since 2019. “The idea is to have a rotation of cities,” says Peresman. “And our goal is to have it in Cleveland every other year. The museum is there. It’s important to show that to people, and having the opportunity to show it off every other year is great.”