The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has officially announced this year’s inductees: Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner will join the class of 2021 in the Performers category.
Additionally, LL Cool J, Billy Preston, and Randy Rhoads will receive the Musical Excellence Award. Kraftwerk, Gil Scott Heron and Charley Patton will get the Early Influence Award, and Sussex Records founder Clarence Avant will be given the Ahmet Ertegun Award.
The induction ceremony will be held at Cleveland, Ohio’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on October 30th. It will be broadcast on HBO Max and Streamed on HBO Max at a later date.
“This is our most diverse class in the history of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” says chairman John Sykes, who is also IHeartMedia’s President of Entertainment Enterprises. “It really represents the Hall’s ongoing commitment to honor the artists that have created not only rock & roll, but the sound of youth culture.”
Three of this year’s inductees — Grohl, Turner, and King — are entering the Hall of Fame for the second time. King was inducted along with her former songwriting partner Gerry Goffin in 1990 as a non-performer, Tina Turner entered in 1991 as half of the Ike & Tina Turner duo, and Grohl was brought in as Nirvana’s drummer in 2014. “I am absolutely thrilled to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame amongst such amazing artists!” Tuner wrote in a statement. “Thank you for all your continued love and support over the years!”
“Holy shit! The guitar player from the Germs is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!!!” Foo Fighters wrote on Twitter, a reference to Foo guitarist Pat Smear, a founding member of the L.A. hardcore band.
“It’s very difficult to get inducted twice and we have three this year,” says Sykes. “It’s also a rare year where three of the six inductees are women: Tina, Carole and the Go-Gos. It just shows the continued power and relevance and recognition of women in music.”
Last year, the pandemic forced organizers to scramble and hold a virtual event on HBO in November. For the first time in Hall of Fame history, mini-documentaries honoring the inductees replaced live performances. “It was very well-received by viewers,” says Sykes. “I think you’ll see a great live event, and maybe a hybrid show on HBO that will be a combination of live music and some of these documentary-style pieces that really told the story of the inductees.”
The live event will hopefully feature performances by every inductee that is present, though Turner lives in Switzerland and hasn’t performed since the end of her 2009 world tour. “We’d be so proud and honored to have her attend,” says Sykes. “It just depends on how she feels and whether she wants to fly to America. It would be quite a moment if she could. I promise you, if she cannot make the trip, there will be an incredible tribute paid to her by a group of artists.”
There’s an unusually large numbers of inductees this year outside of the Performers category. Most ceremonies see two or three such inductees, but there are seven this time out. “That’s because we’ve really created, for the first time this year, special committees that actually nominate and induct artists,” says Sykes. “These are very diverse committees that actually include artists themselves like [Run-DMC’s] Darryl McDaniels, Little Steven, and Tom Morello.” (LL Cool J and Kraftwerk were both nominated six times in the past. They failed to enter through the regular process, and getting in the Musical Excellence and Early Influence awards allows them to circumnavigate the voters.)
Past Cleveland inductions have been held at the 10,000-seat Public Hall, but this year they are moving to the 20,000 seat Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. “We just needed more room,” says Sykes. “Tickets go so fast and we wanted to have as many people from the Cleveland area be able to attend the show as possible.”
If the current pandemic trajectory holds, arena concerts will just be starting in America around the time of the ceremony. “I think we’re going to see this fall as the very beginnings of the reopening of live music in America,” says Sykes, who adds that the event will be fully COVID-compliant. “An event like the Rock & Roll of Fame induction ceremony will be a precursor of what we’re all looking forward to getting back to in 2022.”