The 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony happened Friday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center which was broadcast live on Disney+. While Kate Bush wasn’t there, there was no shortage of superstars on stage.
Queen Latifah inducted Missy Elliott, the first female rapper to receive the honor, saying in part, “Trust me, nothing sounded the same after Missy came on the scene. Nothing….everything changed – the bass lines changed, the pockets changed, the cadence, the writing. And that’s because Missy has always been a futurist someone who’s always looking ahead.” Missy was on hand to accept and perform a set of “Get Ur Freak On,” “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” “Work It,” “Pass That Dutch,” and Lose Control” to close out the night.
The evening started with Sheryl Crow who was inducted by Laura Dern (who subbed for Brandi Carlile who couldn’t make it due to illness), who said “To say she blazed the trail for generations of women in music would be the understatement of the century.” Sheryl was also there to accept, saying, “I was a kid who dreamed rock & roll, who pored over album covers…I found my identity in the lyrics of the songs that I was sure were written for me.” Sheryl then performed “If it Makes You Happy” with Olivia Rodrigo, “Strong Enough” with Stevie Nicks, and “Every Day is a Winding Road” with Nicks and Peter Frampton on guitar.
The late George Michael was inducted by his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley gave a lovely, moving speech. “George considered his talents in descending order as those of songwriter, producer and singer,” Ridgely said. “However, whilst his songs and recordings brilliantly convey his visceral sense of the ecstasy and pain that life occasions, it was the breathtaking beauty in the way he delivered that sense that, in my opinion, was his greatest gift: His voice.” He added, “His pain healed ours, and his grace gave hope.” Then Miguel came out to sing “Careless Whispers,” Adam Levine sang “Faith,” and Carrie Underwood sang “One More Try.”
Rage Against the Machine were inducted by Ice-T who said, “You can’t impress me with normal stuff. You gotta impress me with stuff like…suing the U.S. State Dept. for using their music at Guantanamo Bay for torturing. Who DOES that? Rage Against The Machine does that.” Guitarist Tom Morello was on hand to accept for the band, holding a small “Cease Fire” sign. Music can change the world…Daily, I hear from fans who have been affected by our music, and in turn have affected the world in significant ways. Organizers, activists, public defenders, teachers, the presidents of Chile and Finland have all spent time in our mosh pit.”
Willie Nelson was inducted by Dave Matthews who said “It’s people like Willie Nelson who give me hope for the world.” Willie, who is 90, sang “Whiskey River” with Chris Stapleton, Don Was and Nelson’s son, Michah, then Sheryl Crow joined him for “Crazy,” and Matthews, Crow and Stapleton joined for “On the Road Again.”
Jazmine Sullivan inducted Queen of Funk Chaka Khan, and Chaka was there to accept and peform a set including “I Feel For You” with Common, “Ain’t Nobody” and “Sweet Thing” with H.E.R., and “I’m Every Woman” with Sia.
Elton John inducted his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin and sang “Tiny Dancer” which the wrote together. Later, Elton covered The Band‘s “The Weight” for the In Memoriam segment, joined by Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Brittany Howard and Don Was.
Kate Bush was inducted by Big Boi and St. Vincent covered “Running Up That Hill.”
The Spinners were honored by New Edition who performed “I’ll Be Around,” “Could it Be I’m Falling in Love,” and “Rubber Band Man.”
LL Cool J inducted DJ Kool Herc, saying, “Arguably, no one made a bigger contribution to hip-hop culture than DJ Kool Herc,” turning to the DJ and saying “You lit the fire and it’s still blazing.” Herc was at a loss for words momentarily before thanking his parents, James Brown, Marcus Garvey and Harry Belafonte.
The late guitar great Link Wray was also inducted, and honored by surprise guest Jimmy Page who performed “Rumble.”
ABC will air a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony special on January 1. You can watch clips from the night below.
Rage Against the Machine