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Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott and George Michael among Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees

Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott and George Michael are among the 2023 inductees of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Nikola Spasenoski/Shutterstock/Sodel Vladyslav/Shutterstock
Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott and George Michael are among the 2023 inductees of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2023 reflects its mission to celebrate “the collision of R&B, country and gospel” that gave way to rock ‘n’ roll.

Willie Nelson, Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, Rage Against the Machine, George Michael, Sheryl Crow and the Spinners are all headed into the hall.

“This class very much highlights that rock 'n’ roll isn't one singular sound,” said Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris. “It came from multiple streams of music and has created multiple streams of music.”

Fresh off his 90th birthday celebration, Willie Nelson will be inducted on his first nomination, though he's been eligible for 40 years. Nelson debuted in 1957 with a single he recorded while working as a disk jockey in Washington state, “No Place for Me.” He’s seen a resurgence in recent years as he extended his decades of activism with live-streamed benefit concerts for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. A 9-disc vinyl boxed set of his career sold out earlier this year.

British singer-songwriter Kate Bush was nominated last year but failed to make the cut. That was just before her 1985 hit, “Running Up That Hill,” raced up the charts due to its use in the Netflix series “Stranger Things.”

The Spinners, also known as the Detroit Spinners, have been nominated four times before. The group recorded for Motown in the 1960s. After co-lead singer (and Cincinnati native) Philippé Wynne joined the group, they had a run of "Philly Soul" hits working with 2008 inductees Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

"The Spinners are the sound of summertime," Harris said. "Growing up, hearing them on the radio in Philadelphia, we got to claim them as our own - just like Detroit got to claim them."

Cyndi Lauper, Iron Maiden, Warren Zevon and Soundgarden are among the nominees not selected for induction this year, but all four made the top five of the fan vote, which George Michael commanded.

Acts are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record and are chosen by a pool of musicians, past inductees, critics and industry executives. Along with the main performers, the committee selects early influences in the Musical Influence category. Non-performers can be recognized with the Ahmet Ertegun Award, named for the co-founder of Atlantic Records. Artists and producers who have “had a dramatic impact on music” are selected in the Musical Excellence category.

This year, in the Musical Influence category, guitarist Link Wray will be posthumously inducted after being eligible since 1984.

“He's been nominated two other times as a regular nominee for the Performer category and just didn't get the votes out of the general voting body," said Harris. "But then the Musical Influence category is perfectly fitting. Everybody that put a guitar around their neck after Link Wray was impacted by Link Wray.”

DJ Kool Herc will also be recognized for introducing the concept of using turntables as musical instruments, a cornerstone of hip-hop.

Musical Excellence inductees for 2023 are R&B legend Chaka Khan and Elton John’s writing partner, Bernie Taupin. Al Kooper is also honored for his work on records by past inductees B.B. King, Bo Diddley, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Harrison, Neil Diamond and Roy Orbison, among many others.

“Soul Train” host Don Cornelius will be posthumously recognized with the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

This year's ceremony will be held November 3 in New York City.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.