The pop singer Whitney Houston, the ’90s industrial-alternative experimentalists Nine Inch Nails and the Brooklyn rapper the Notorious B.I.G. are among the latest inductees into the gradually broadening tent that is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, according to an announcement on Wednesday.
Rounding out the class of 2020, which will be feted by the Rock Hall on May 2 in Cleveland, are the gothy synth-pop group Depeche Mode, which had hits throughout the ’80s and ’90s; the Doobie Brothers, who brought soul, country and jazz sounds into its top-selling ’70s soft rock; and T-Rex, the English glam-rock band fronted by Marc Bolan until his death in 1977.
All told, the latest honorees — which were voted in by a group of more than 1,000 artists, industry professionals and historians, as well as a fan vote that counts as one ballot — cover a wide swath of genres and generations, in line with recent Rock Hall classes that have welcomed Tupac Shakur, Radiohead, the Cure and Janet Jackson into the fold.
The hall, founded in the early 1980s, has consistently faced criticism for its opaque internal politics and lack of diversity. Jackson even addressed this issue in her speech at last year’s induction ceremony: “2020 — please induct more women.”
In fact, only three women were up for induction this year on a list of 16 potential Hall-of-Famers, and just Houston, who died in 2012, was voted in. Pat Benatar, who made the ballot for the first time, did not make the cut, while Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, eligible since 1999, was left out after its fourth time on the shortlist. (Artists become eligible for nomination 25 years after the release of their first commercial recording.)
Other acts that failed to receive enough support included Dave Matthews Band, Motörhead and Thin Lizzy — all first-time nominees — and Judas Priest in its second year on the ballot. Dave Matthews Band led the fan ballot with over a million votes; Benatar took second place with nearly 900,000.
Close watchers of the Rock Hall received news of the latest inductees a bit early on Tuesday when the names of the six accepted acts leaked online, thanks to some digital sleuthing by fans on the organization’s official website. The Hall of Fame declined to comment on the leak.
This year’s ceremony, which is typically taped to air later in edited form, will mark the first time that the speeches and performances will be broadcast live on HBO. Scheduled talent will be announced at a later date.
More changes afoot: The 2020 induction will be the first in over a decade not overseen by Jann Wenner, the co-founder and longtime editor of Rolling Stone, who stepped down as chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation on Jan. 1. Wenner started the Rock Hall with the record executive Ahmet Ertegun and took over as chairman after Ertegun’s death in 2006. Wenner was replaced by John Sykes, a former executive at MTV and the current president of entertainment enterprises for the radio conglomerate iHeartMedia.
Joining the artists onstage this year are two figures more commonly on the other side of the curtain. Jon Landau, the early rock critic-turned-producer-turned-manager for Bruce Springsteen, will be honored with the Ahmet Ertegun Award for influential songwriters, producers, D.J.s and executives. Irving Azoff, the high-powered manager of Eagles, Steely Dan and other superstars, will also be inducted with the same honor.
Landau currently serves as the chairman of the Rock Hall’s nominating committee, but is not part of the committee that chooses the Ertegun Award, the organization said.