Sixteen artists have been nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They are Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, and Dionne Warwick.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president and CEO Greg Harris says it's a diverse group.
"Remarkable gender parity, which is something that has been brought up from time to time, so really thrilled to see all these fine artists nominated," Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president and CEO Greg Harris said. "This really encompasses the breadth of Rock & Roll. It's a big tent. So many types of music and so many artists fit under it. And it underscores that it's about attitude and grit and power. It's not simply four artists with long hair and guitars."
To be eligible, an artist or band must have released its first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. Seven of this year's nominees are on the ballot for the first time: Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Mary J. Blige, Fela Kuti, and Dionne Warwick. Chaka Khan was previously nominated both solo and with the band Rufus. If elected, Carole King and Tina Turner would become the second and third female artists inducted twice, following Stevie Nicks’ 2019 election. If Foo Fighters get in, Dave Grohl would also become a two-time inductee performer as he went in with Nirvana in 2014. A panel of more than 1,000 voters, mostly Rock Hall inductees, will now narrow down the list.
"Smokey Robinson votes, the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers vote, Bonnie Raitt votes, as well as some industry professionals and music historians," Harris continued. "All of those ballots come back, and they're counted. The top vote-getters are then elected to the Hall. Historically, it's between five and seven. The reason for that is sometimes there will be a three-way tie for fourth or fifth. There is a little flexibility there. It's the top vote-getters is the best way to describe it."
Fans can also vote at rockhall.com, and that becomes one composite ballot added to the others. The Class of 2021 will be announced in May.
The Rock Hall lost one of its members this week with the passing of Mary Wilson. The co-founder of the Supremes was inducted in 1988 with her bandmates Diana Ross and Florence Ballard. Harris remembered Wilson as a warm and wonderful person.
"If we were doing an event or something special tied to Motown, she was here in an instant," Harris said. "She was just very loving and very giving. Amazing vocalist, usually background but sometimes lead. Just personified grace and elegance and just the whole spree of Motown. There's something magical about the way they created this unifying sound and unifying image. They were the voice of young American and a wonderful voice of change in our country."
In the fall of 2014 before a show with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Wilson visited the Fort Hayes campus. She performed a few songs and told students that hopes and dreams are possible with hard work and the right attitude.
"It's not an easy thing to make your dreams come true. First of all, loving what you do is so important. You just don't get up there on stage and make your dreams come true. You need people to train you. Dare to dream. But it doesn't matter what it is, you gotta have it in here. It all starts with a thought - a thought that you can achieve something in life."
Wilson died Monday at the age of 76. As for this year's induction ceremony scheduled for this fall in Cleveland, Harris said the plan is to have an event with a live audience and live music. The Rock Hall will hold off on ticket sales until July to assess the COVID-19 pandemic and plan accordingly. The museum reopened last month.