The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's CEO Greg Harris breaks down the 2023 nominees

'It's just a great group... it underscores the diversity of what we think of as Rock N' Roll'
Greg Harris
Greg Harris Photo credit Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
By , Audacy

Greg Harris, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, joined Audacy host Taryn Daly today following the official announcement of the 2023 class of nominees.

LISTEN NOW: Greg Harris with Taryn Daly

"It's a fantastic year," says Rock Hall president/CEO Greg Harris. "This class of fourteen for consideration for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be the 2023 class is huge. Eight of them, it's their first time ever nominated and a few of them are back for a second, third, or fourth, maybe even a fifth nomination."

This year's impressive and eclectic list of 14 nominees is up for fan voting now, with Missy Elliott, Warren Zevon, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, The White Stripes, Cyndi Lauper, George Michael, and Joy Division / New Order being recognized this year for the first time. Second-time nominees Iron MaidenSoundgarden and A Tribe Called Quest also made the list, as well as Kate Bush and The Spinners with their fourth nominations, and rockers Rage Against The Machine celebrating their fifth.

Always a topic of contention no matter who is nominated or left out each year, this time around Greg says he has been most impressed while discussing this year's nominees by how surprised people have been that songwriter Warren Zevon has not been inducted yet. "There was a quote in 'Rolling Stone' in the early '80s where it said that coming out of the 1970s, the emerging American songwriters are Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, and Warren Zevon. The work he did since then is just off the charts. It's a little bittersweet because he had a very aggressive form of cancer that was incurable, and he left us an amazing body of work, and was admired by all of his peers. So many folks wanted to play on his records, be part of his songs, and record his songs... there's sometimes a surprise that he's not already in."

"The others on this list, it's just incredible" Greg adds. "It's just a great group. It underscores the diversity of what we think of as Rock N' Roll -- and really it's not just one sound, it's many sounds -- it's an attitude and a spirit."

Also at the top of the list of nominees this year is Missy Elliott, the first female rapper to get a nod from music's hallowed halls. "When we were talking about the nomination and Missy Elliott's name came up, some of the folks in the committee shared that if they're putting together a Hip-Hop tribute people will frequently ask, 'Is Missy gonna be on the show?' All of the other artists look to her as a leader; she's an amazing songwriter, amazing performer, she also produces her own stuff. She's the full package, and it would be fitting if she's the first female Hip-Hop artist to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame."

Greg notes that there are a number of artists on the 2023 list who have produced their own music, including Sheryl Crow; "She knows what sound she wants to get and then she finds a way to get it," he says. "George Michael I believe was his own producer for many of his stuff. Of course, Jack White always controls his voice and does it well. I could go down the list... Kate Bush is the same way."

"You know what's really extra interesting about Kate Bush," Greg continues, "she breaks on the scene in the '70s with Peter Gabriel and doing work with Genesis, there's some Pink Floyd connection, and then she does her own thing and has hits in the '80s, pretty big stardom in the U.K. but never that massive in the U.S. She was nominated to go in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 as well as 2021... before 'Stranger Things.' So, the nominating committee recognized her artistry and her impact, and now the whole world is hearing about it... hopefully this puts her over the top."

Sliding into the Country side of the Rock Hall, Willie Nelson's nomination follows last year's induction of Dolly Parton, but don't think for a second this is anything new. "Lets look back," Greg says. "Hank Williams has been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for decades. Bob Wills of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys -- amazing Texas swing, really roots of Rock & Roll -- is inducted, Johnny Cash is in... the Everlys have as many Country hits as Rock hits, and Jerry Lee Lewis actually has more Country records out than Rock & Roll records. So, we have a pretty good lineup of Country artists in already, and then we move into this era with Willie; Willie has over 90 studio albums that he's released. It's insane; still touring, still playing. But it also is a chance to talk about how Rock & Roll has many sounds, but that attitude and spirit... One of the hallmarks, I think of great Rock & Roll, is it's the voice of freedom, and Willie is that voice and has that power."

Listen to Taryn's full interview with Greg Harris above and stay tuned for more conversations with your favorite stars and artists right here on Audacy.

After the fan vote is completed, the final 2023 Rock Hall nominees will be revealed in May and will be inducted during the annual ceremony expected in October. Stay tuned for more info about the official 2023 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony's date, time, and place.

Browse and follow more of Audacy's all-new stations like Audacy All New, Music Awards Radio, New Wave Mix Tape, IndustriALT, Women of Hip Hop, The White Stripes Radio, Willie Nelson Radio, The Seattle Sound, Conscious Hip Hop, 90s Country Classics, Masters Of MetalArena Rock, Wake Up and Rock, and The Roots of Rock for those who crave the early days.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame