Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducts class of 2021


Andrew Hitchcock | Wikimedia Commons

Maya Alexander

Rock, rap and pop legends convened at this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. The 2021 class inducted its latest cohort of influential rock stars.

A true musical celebration took place in Cleveland as the hall returned for its first live ceremony after 2020’s subdued virtual show. With COVID-19 precautions in place, the 12,000-seater Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse became the feeding ground for a true musical Camelot not seen at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies for a long time.

This year’s ceremony proved to be a great time with surprise guest speakers and killer performances. The 2021 class included Tina Turner, Carole King, The Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters and Todd Rundgren as part of the performer’s category.

Music legend and former Beatle, Paul McCartney inducted the Foo Fighters. “Rock and roll is a magical thing that contains so many elements,” he said in his speech as he discussed just how varied the genre can be.

Those elements certainly proved to be out and about that night with performances ranging from Jennifer Hudson’s belting of Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” in honor of songwriter Kingor Christina Aguilera’s rockin’ rendition of Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.”

Guest speakers came out in droves to celebrate Jay-Z who, despite not performing, got a tribute video featuring David Letterman, LeBron James, Beyoncé and Blue Ivy. Dave Chappelle made a surprise appearance, amid his ongoing controversy involving his latest Netflix special, to induct Jay-Z, noting the impact and influence of the rapper’s music.

“You embody Black excellence, how great we can be,” he said.  “I understand who you are. And I understand what you do and I am very grateful for your contribution to this art.”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame got its start with the help of Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records, who then enlisted the help of other music and business executives, attorneys and Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner to build the organization.

In true Rock Hall tradition, very few musicians play a part in the yearly induction process, which is notorious for snubbing certain musical acts including heavy metal, pop and a large array of Black music.

This year’s induction class was no different when critiques were levied at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame CEO Greg Harris for the continued lack of heavy metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, who both have been eligible for induction for 22 and 15 years respectively.

Harris, understanding of the criticism, responded that Iron Maiden and Judas Priest are “incredible bands, no doubt — truly worthy of nomination, truly worthy of consideration.”  Yet, due to the constraints of the nomination process, “they just can’t all go in. So this year these are the six. And we’re excited to see what next year brings.”

The full 2021 ceremony will be available for viewing on HBO and HBO Max on Nov. 20.