A Most Unusual Rock Hall Induction


In a normal year, the newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class would have hit the stage and performed the songs that got them into the vaunted institution. Not 2020. Because of the pandemic, this year’s all-star group was inducted Saturday night in a taped HBO special that told the stories of Whitney Houston, Notorious BIG, and the Doobie Brothers’ rise to fame and how acts like Nine Inch Nails, T. Rex, and Depeche Mode heavily impacted the music industry and generations after them. As she inducted Houston, Grammy-winner Alicia Keys gave a heartfelt speech about one of the best singers in pop history. “We all know what a miraculous singer Whitney was, perhaps the greatest voice of our all-time. … her unprecedented success brought Black women into the absolute highest reaches of the music industry’s pantheon,” said Keys, who wrote a song for Houston’s last album. “She will now be one of the brightest lights ever to shine in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Houston, one of the best-selling acts in music history who died in 2012 at age 48, recently became the first Black artist to have three diamond-certified albums. Her mother and aunt, Cissy and Pat Houston, accepted the award. “This is something that Whitney always wanted,” Pat Houston said. Other acts were posthumously inducted. The Notorious BIG was shot to death in 1997 at 24 and in a few years became one of the top voices in rap and pop. He was inducted by close friend and collaborator Diddy. “Nobody has come close to the way Biggie sounds, to the way he raps, to the frequency that he hits. Tonight, we are inducting the greatest rapper of all-time,” Diddy said. Nas said BIG “represents Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York City, America, the world and he represents the Black experience.” T. Rex, Houston, BIG, and the Doobie Brothers were on the ballot for the first time. The Rock Hall’s annual induction ceremony was supposed to take place in May in Cleveland, notes the AP.

(Read more Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stories.)

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