Tupac Shakur and Nile Rodgers selected to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Join Joan Baez, ELO, Journey, Pearl Jam, and Yes in Class of 2017

Last updated on July 3rd, 2018 at 10:49 am

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

The 2017 Inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced last week and include two African American artists. Tupac Shakur will be inducted posthumously in the Performer category. Nile Rodgers will receive special individual recognition from the Hall as he is inducted in the category of Award for Musical Excellence. The other inductees, all in the Performer category, include Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Pearl Jam, and Yes.

Nile Rodgers is one of those rare musical talents that can do almost anything. Bowie, Madonna, Daft Punk & others sought out Rodgers’ production prowess–yielding unabashedly freaky, incredibly danceable rock records.

He began his journey as a session musician in his hometown, New York City – playing with the Sesame Street traveling band, and then as a house band member at the Apollo. In 1977 Rodgers formed the funk/disco/soul band CHIC along with bass player Bernard Edwards. Their signature sound pushed hits including “Le Freak” and “Good Times” to the top of the charts and fueled the dance floor at clubs like the infamous Studio 54.

Starting in 1979, Rodgers and Edwards tried their hand at production and scored a massive success right out of the gate with Sister Sledge’s “We are Family.” In the 1980s Rodgers became one of the most sought after producers, helping to create albums that redefined an artist’s career, including Diana Ross, Diana, David Bowie, Let’s Dance, INXS, Original Sin, Madonna, Like a Virgin, Duran Duran, Notorious, The B-52s, Cosmic Thing, and the Vaughn Brothers, Family Style.

In the process of producing hit albums, Rodgers developed his own dance-rock signature sound that was imitated (if never duplicated) by numerous artists in a range of music styles. The 80s and 90s also saw him arranging film scores, releasing solo albums, and even reforming a version of CHIC. Rodgers shows no sign of slowing down, and one of his most recent endeavours had him working as a key part of the team that created Daft Punk’s 2013 album Random Access Memories. Nile Rodgers has left his mark on rock and roll – and any of today’s dance band, funk-inspired, soul groove, electro musicians can trace their roots right back to him.

Beyond his popularity, Tupac Shakur is one of the most complex figures to emerge from hip-hop – really, to emerge from any art form. His naked emotion and fearless personal revelation were a direct influence on MCs from Eminem to Kendrick Lamar. “Every rapper who grew up in the ’90s owes something to Tupac,” wrote 50 Cent in Rolling Stone, paying tribute to Shakur as one of the “100 Greatest Artists Of All Time.”

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur

Tupac was born into struggle—his mother, Afeni, was a leader in the Black Panther movement—but grew up to become not just a multi-platinum rapper, but a movie star. He managed to become both the “realest” artist, in a genre obsessed with authenticity, and larger than life. His songs preached activism and nihilism, expressed rage and love, raised questions without answers. He was a lightning rod, a screen onto which millions of people continue to project their feelings about rap, about race, and about the young black man in America today.

Tupac’s first solo album, 2Pacalypse Now, instantly generated both acclaim and controversy. Though the single “Brenda’s Got A Baby” demonstrated his empathy and conscience, the album’s unsparing examinations of street violence and police harassment led to a public condemnation by Vice President Dan Quayle.

This tension would continue to play out over the next five years, as Tupac’s life grew increasingly tumultuous and his popularity escalated. “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Dear Mama” were heart-tugging, feminist anthems; elsewhere, he could be brutally misogynist and violent – a side of his work which escalated when he became part of Suge Knight’s Death Row empire.

But even as his rap sheet grew, his records kept getting better, culminating in 1996’s All Eyez On Me, which spawned five singles, including two Number One hits, “California Love” and “How Do U Want It.” Meanwhile, his performances in Juice, Poetic Justice, Above The Rim, and other movies revealed a powerful screen presence.

In a recording career tragically cut short after just five years, Tupac Shakur sold over 75 million records worldwide, with All Eyez On Me and his Greatest Hits collection both surpassing the ten million sales mark. Since his murder in 1996 at the age of 25, Tupac’s legend and impact have continued to expand across the globe. He has become an international symbol of resistance and outlaw spirit, an irresistible contradiction, a definitive rap anti-hero.

Selected discography: “I Get Around,” “Keep Ya Head Up” (1993); “Dear Mama” (1995); “California Love” (1996); and “Changes” (1998),

Electric Light Orchestra, or more popularly known as ELO, were formed in Birmingham England in 1970 when Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood, members of The Move, had the vision to start a new project that would create modern rock and pop songs with classical overtones. Joined by fellow Move member Bev Bevan, their mission was clear – to pick up where the Beatles left off and carry the torch. And they did just that.

If you’ve seen Joan Baez live you’ll know the simmering charismatic presence that draws you into her performance. Baez’s unwavering dedication to activism shows that volume isn’t the only way to be loud—and totally rock and roll. It’s a powerful force that saw her cross over from her folk roots into the mainstream, achieving gold albums in the 70’s and also provided a platform for her lifetime’s work, championing civil rights and human rights, highlighting the downtrodden, standing up against discrimination and reminding us it’s not always only rock ‘n roll.

Journey performed ballads and scorchers with equal skill and passion led by Neal Schon’s remarkable guitar and the soaring vocals of Steve Perry. Call it what you will – Arena Rock, Stadium Rock, Concert Rock – the music of Journey defined the big rock and roll sound of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Formed in San Francisco in 1973, the group was initially a combination of ex-Santana members Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie, and ex- Frumious Bandersnatch members. The band was steeped in the psychedelic and jazz fusion sounds of San Francisco and pushed out into the territory of progressive and hard rock.

When they released their debut album, Ten, in August, 1991, Pearl Jam were a band of young unknowns to anyone not from Seattle, Washington. At home, Pearl Jam were practically a supergroup – founded in 1990 at a crossroads of classic rock, Seventies heavy metal and hardcore punk, just as that city’s underground scene was about to go worldwide. To this day they remain one of the most reliably explosive, vigorously committed, and truly modern rock bands in the world.

Yes is the most enduring, ambitious and virtuosic progressive band in rock history. They created complex, progressive, and virtuosic rock suites built on influences ranging from psychedelic rock to classical music. By fusing the cinematic soundscapes of King Crimson with the hard rock edge of The Who and the soaring harmonies and melodies of Simon and Garfunkel, they took progressive rock from a small audience of aficionados to radio airwaves and football stadiums all over America. Hits like “Roundabout” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” appealed to rock fans who did not even think they liked prog rock, while album-side length epics like “Close To The Edge” and “The Gates Of Delirium” represent the genre at its absolute finest. Steve Howe remains one of the most underrated guitarists in rock history, while keyboardist Rick Wakeman, bassist Chris Squire and drummers Bill Bruford and Alan White will always be regarded as musicians simply without peer. Frontman Jon Anderson is an alto tenor singer who still hits the highest of high notes 45 years after forming the group.

The 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, will take place on Friday, April 7, 2017 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for the third time. Ticket on-sale dates will be announced in January. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2017 Induction Ceremony will again have its television premiere on HBO, and a radio broadcast on SiriusXM. Broadcast details will be announced in early 2017.

Artists are eligible for inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first recording. The 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Performer Inductees were chosen by more than 900 voters, as well as the aggregate results of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s online fan vote. The top five artists from the fan vote comprised the Fans’ Ballot that was tallied alongside the other ballots to determine the 2017 Inductees. Four of the winners of the Fans’ Ballot (Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Pearl Jam, and Yes) will be inducted as performers in 2017.