The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 has been announced, and among the inductees are five first-time nominees — including one who actually tried to turn down her nomination in the first place.
The first-time nominees getting inducted via the Performer category, which recognizes “artists who have created music whose originality, impact, and influence has changed the course of rock ‘n’ roll,” are new wave idols Duran Duran, hip-hop superstar Eminem (the only Class of 2022 artist to be inducted in a first year of eligibility), pop/soul veteran and American Idol judge Lionel Richie, singer-songwriter Carly Simon, and, most interestingly, country legend Dolly Parton. Previously nominated artists rounding out the Performer category are rock powerhouse Pat Benatar and synth duo the Eurythmics.
In March, a month after this year’s 17 Rock Hall nominees had been revealed, Parton shockingly and unprecedentedly announced that she was “respectfully” withdrawing from the ballot because she didn’t feel she had “earned that right” to be considered a rock artist. (The Hall’s broad definition of the term “rock ‘n’ roll” has been a hot topic among fans and rock purists for years.) However, the ballots had already been mailed out to more than 1,000 voters, so the Hall clarified that it was too late to remove her name — therefore, if she received enough votes, she would be inducted, regardless of her wishes.
However, on April 29, the Hall’s voting deadline date, Parton conducted an interview with NPR’s “Morning Edition” in which she seemed to soften on the matter. “It was always my belief that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was for the people in rock music. And I have found out lately it’s not necessarily that. But if they can’t go there to be recognized, where do they go? And so I felt like I would be taking away from someone that maybe deserved it, certainly more than me since I never considered myself a rock artist,” she explained. “But obviously, there’s more to it than that.” Parton revealed that if she did indeed make the Class of 2022, she would “accept gracefully” and “say thanks,” but she did not make it clear if she would attend or perform at the ceremony.
Metal titans Judas Priest did not get into the Hall this year via the Performer category, but they are receiving the Musical Excellence Award (which is given to “artists, musicians, songwriters, and producers whose originality and influence creating music have had a dramatic impact on music”), as are super-producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Harry Belafonte and late folk/blues musician Elizabeth Cotten are receiving the Early Influence Award, while the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which recognizes industry professionals, will go to entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman, late Sugar Hill Records founder Sylvia Robinson, and Interscope Records/Beats mogul Jimmy Iovine. With the inclusion of Cotten and Robinson, this is the first year in Rock Hall history that six women will be inducted in one class.
In 2020, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame co-founder and Rolling Stone magnate Jann Wenner stepped down as chairman and was replaced by MTV co-founder John Sykes — a development that likely helped the long-snubbed Go-Go’s finally get into the Hall last year and boosted this year’s chances for other overlooked ‘80s artists, like Benatar (who was nominated in 2020 and led the fan vote, but was then shockingly snubbed), the Eurythmics, and especially Duran Duran. (All three of those acts were in the top five of the Hall’s fan vote this year, and Duran Duran in fact topped the fan vote by a 250,000 landslide.) In 2015, an anonymous insider disparagingly told Billboard that artists of the early-MTV era were viewed as “weird outcasts from England who wear mascara” by the Hall’s old guard.
“This diverse group of inductees each had a profound impact on the sound of youth culture and helped change the course of rock ‘n’ roll,” said Sykes said in a statement Wednesday morning. “Their music moved generations and influenced so many artists that followed.”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 37th annual induction ceremony will take place Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, and will air on HBO and stream on HBO Max at a later date.
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