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Star-Studded Induction: A Night of Musical Excellence at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Credits: Vulture)

Rock stars illuminated the night during a momentous induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, celebrating the musical excellence of a new class of trailblazers with over 25 years of illustrious careers. The 38th cohort, which notably included Missy Elliott as the hall’s first-ever female rapper and the venerable 90-year-old Willie Nelson, was hailed in a thrilling four-hour ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday.

The honorees were joined by a lineup of special guests, including past Hall of Famers Stevie Nicks and Elton John, as well as Adam Levine, Brandi Carlile, Queen Latifah, and Jimmy Page. Several of the night’s award recipients also graced the stage with electrifying performances. Missy Elliott, in particular, captivated the audience with renditions of her iconic late-1990s and 2000s hip-hop hits “Work It” and “Get Ur Freak On.”

Star-Studded Induction A Night of Musical Excellence at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Star-Studded Induction A Night of Musical Excellence at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Credits: Los Angeles Daily News)

The Hall of Fame paid tribute to Elliott’s groundbreaking debut album, “Supa Dupa Fly,” noting that she introduced “onomatopoetic nonsense, singsong, and jagged syncopations” in her signature urban Southern drawl.

During her acceptance speech, Missy Elliott dazzled in a glittery gold tracksuit and fedora, extending gratitude to her fellow inductees and inspirations, including Elton John, Pepa of Salt-N-Pepa, and Roxane Shante, saying, “I was just listening to other people’s stories and being like, wow, they’ve been around all of these years and just getting inducted, who I feel been worthy of being up here. And that’s why I’m still in shock because they have so many years on me. If it weren’t for them and their music, I probably wouldn’t be standing here.”

The late British popstar George Michael, known for hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas” as one-half of Wham!, was honored for his contributions to music and for his groundbreaking openness about his sexuality, which paved the way for LGBTQ+ artists today. Willie Nelson, whose remarkable 60-plus-year career spans rock, pop, and blues-infused country music, graced the stage alongside Chris Stapleton and fellow honoree Sheryl Crow.

Star-Studded Induction A Night of Musical Excellence at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Star-Studded Induction A Night of Musical Excellence at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Credits: Shropshire Star)

Crow, a consistent presence at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies since its inception in 1986, expressed her excitement about having her legacy recognized alongside music legends like Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, and John Mellencamp, likening the experience to receiving an Oscar for an unfinished screenplay.

The induction also recognized two groups: the politically charged Rage Against the Machine and the R&B sensations the Spinners. Kate Bush, famous for her chart-topping single “Wuthering Heights” and her 1985 hit “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God),” which made a resurgence on the charts, was honored as well, though she was unable to attend the ceremony. In a statement on her website, she expressed her deep gratitude for the prestigious award.

The musical influence awards were bestowed upon Link Wray and Clive Campbell, a.k.a. DJ Kool Herc, the pioneering figure who initiated hip-hop at a Bronx house party 50 years ago. LL Cool J, a 2021 inductee, hailed DJ Kool Herc as one of the key founders of hip-hop and acknowledged the culture’s profound impact on his life and millions of others.

Additional honorees included Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, and Bernie Taupin for their musical excellence. Chaka Khan delivered a medley of her hit songs, accompanied by H.E.R., Sia, and Common. In his speech, Taupin subtly rebuked former Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner for recent comments, referencing Wenner’s remarks about Black and female musical artists not being “articulate” enough to feature in his new book on rock luminaries. These comments sparked controversy, leading to Wenner’s removal from the Hall of Fame’s board of directors.

Don Cornelius, best known as the creator of “Soul Train,” posthumously received the Ahmet Ertegun Award, honoring non-performers in the music industry who have made a significant impact on the creative development and growth of rock & roll and music that has influenced youth culture.

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