I’m actually doing cartwheels in my office over Kate Bush, but the relevant news item for Country Universe is that Willie Nelson will join Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Bill Monroe, Wanda Jackson, and Brenda Lee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Willie Nelson just got an only slightly late 90th birthday present: an impending induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The country music legend was one of seven music figures announced Wednesday morning as having been voted into the hall, along with Kate Bush, Rage Against the Machine, Missy Elliott, Sheryl Crow, George Michael and the Spinners.
There are six more inductees beyond that list, with the distinction of being selected by a select Hall of Fame committee to join the seven performers who were voted in via general balloting. These are singer Chaka Khan, instrumentalist-producer Al Kooper and lyricist Bernie Taupin, all in the “musical excellence” category; pioneering rock guitarist Link Wray and hip-hop originator DJ Kool Herc in the “musical influence” division; and “Soul Train” TV host Don Cornelius as the recipient of the annual Ahmet Ertegun Award.
The article includes a brief discussion of the Hall’s belated attention to country music legends:
Nelson represents the further breaking of a logjam that seemingly kept classic country artists from getting in, as busted up by Dolly Parton last year. (Presumably Nelson will not be trying to reject his nomination this year, as Parton briefly did in the previous cycle.)
“It’s long overdue,” says Sykes. “And I think Dolly Parton getting inducted last year opened up the eyes of a lot of our voters to understand that country is a part of rock ‘n’ roll right next to gospel and rhythm and blues. I think that also shined a light on the incredible contributions that Willie’s made in, what, 98 records that he’s made over the years. So it was great to see him get so many votes from the body of 1200 voters. Now, remember, Hank Williams, Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, they’re all in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but there was I think a long dearth of country artists that contributed to rock ‘n’ roll that had gone unnoticed before we’ve seen two iconic country artists get recognized in the last two years.”
It seems appropriate that we’re covering the eighties this year, as Nelson is the No. 1 country singles artist of that decade.
Congratulations to Willie Nelson and the rest of this year’s inductees.
My wish list going into 2023 was…
1. Patty Loveless inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
2. Kate Bush inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
3. Kane Brown named Entertainer of the Year by the ACM and/or CMA.
…apart from perhaps exemplary tax payer, i almost can’t think of any honor you couldn’t nominate willie nelson for. good opportunity to play one with bob seger, if he hasn’t done it already.
I’m sure there are some wags out there who will say that Willie got the Cannabis vote (although maybe he did; one never knows). But much like Johnny Cash, his material transcends music genre boundaries; and a fair amount of rock artists have done his it too, including Elvis’ version “Funny How Time Slips Away”, and Linda Ronstadt’s 1976 recording of “Crazy”. So Willie deserves this honor, right as he celebrates his 90th.