A Soulful Celebration at 2021's Rock & Rall Hall of Fame Induction

Angela Bassett inducts Tina Turner into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Photo Credit
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2021 was inducted in October - live in person at the museum grounds in Cleveland, Ohio after a virtual year in 2020 - and the highlights are now streaming on HBO and HBO Max! If you're looking for the good stuff for the soul legends that were honored this year, we've got you covered:

Billy Preston Posthumously Earned a Much-Deserved Award for Musical Excellence

When the Hall started inducting members via what is now known as the Award for Musical Excellence, it was designated as an award for Sidemen, its intent to honor “those musicians, producers and others who have spent their careers out of the spotlight working with major artists on various parts of their recording and live careers.” In 2010, the award was changed to bear its current title - which is perfect, because there’s no way you can sum up Billy Preston as a mere sideman.

Sure, he did play alongside some amazing artists over the course of his career, including Ray Charles, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones, among many, many, many others. But you’re talking about a man who had two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in his own right – “Will It Go Round in Circles” and “Nothing from Nothing” – as well as two additional chart-toppers on the R&B singles chart (“Outa-Space” and “Space Race”).

READ MORE: Everybody Likes Some Kind of Music: Billy Preston's Best

The Beatles' drummer, Ringo Starr, did the official induction of Preston into the Hall of Fame, which featured a brilliant video tribute covering Preston's wide-ranging career. “It’s interesting to see how people behave nicely when you bring a guest in," George Harrison said in the video, cheekily referring to Preston's guest appearances on their troubled Let It Be sessions. "Straightaway, it just became a 100% improvement in the vibe of the room.”

“He was like part of the band, and he gave us a different feel because he’s Billy," Starr explained. "That’s why he played on a couple of tracks. He was so great at our ‘Get Back’ sessions that we even credited that single as ‘The Beatles with Billy Preston.’ After we broke up, Billy went on to play with me, George, and John on our solo records. Billy was a Beatle and Billy was a Rolling Stone!

"When I put the All-Starrs together," Ringo continued, "I asked Billy to come along and play those great No. 1 hits of his. I’m thrilled to welcome Billy into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for Musical Excellence. Clearly, that’s the way God planned it. Peace and love, brother.”

Simply the Best: Tina Turner Enters the Rock Hall As a Soloist

If you’re a longtime Tina Turner fan, you likely already know she’s already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; but if you think she doesn’t deserve a spot in the Hall where her ex-husband Ike’s name isn’t attached to hers, then not only do we have some albums for you to revisit, but we also have a film for you to watch.

To celebrate Turner’s career during the induction ceremony, H.E.R. and Keith Urban teamed up to perform “It’s Only Love,” originally performed by Turner with Bryan Adams, while Mickey Guyton tackled Turner’s signature solo song, “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” but if we’re going to share one clip, then we’re gonna make it Christina Aguilera’s rendition of “River Deep, Mountain High,” which she knocks out of the park.

READ MORE: How Tina Turner Made "The Best" Better Than All the Rest

To induct her into the Hall, Turner chose the woman who portrayed her in the 1993 biopic, What’s Love Got to Do with It, Angela Bassett. Her speech is worth a read:

Imagine: a black girl in Nutbush, Tennessee who embodied more talent than her small town could’ve ever dreamed. Imagine: that same girl breaking through every barrier to one day make history. That woman, that queen... Tina Turner. What a life Tina has led. Her story has become a film, a documentary, a blockbuster Broadway show, and a best-selling autobiography. People still tell me how much Tina has meant to them. I know exactly what they mean, because she has meant that much and more to me. I, too, am one of those people blessed by Tina’s remarkable gift to inspire.

When I played Tina in What’s Love Got to Do with It, I had the terrifying opportunity of trying to figure out how she became the extraordinary woman that we’ve come to know. Fortunately, I had the generous guidance of Tina herself to help me. It was one of the most demanding roles I’ve ever played, but it was also one of the most fulfilling, because just like Tina, I too was a little black girl who had dreams far beyond what the world expected of me. As a black woman, Tina reached deep into her spiritual core with the determination to headline arenas and stadiums just like the great rock bands did. No one who looked like her had ever done it, but she believed that she could. Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams... All wanted to duet with Tina, and they did. Soon she was playing to crowds every bit as large as theirs. She broke ground for women and served as a role model for younger artists, just as those rock stars had done for her.

Tina is a brilliat artist who has won nine Grammy awards and sold more than 200 million records. Her voice is instantly recognizable because it comes directly from her soul, and those songs... "We Don’t Need Another Hero," "Private Dancer," "Better Be Good to Me." I didn’t mention one of her greatest songs, one that gave our movie her title. That’s because, as far as Tina’s concerned, love always has everything to do with it. She brings depths of love to everything she does off and on the stage.

Now, let us remember: Tina is already a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with her earlier work with Ike Turner. However, what brings us here tonight is Tina’s journey to independence. For Tina, hope triumphed over hate. Fate won over fear. And ambition eclipsed adversity. In the words of the late Maya Angelou, "You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise." And Tina rose.

Tina, welcome on your own to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You’re simply the best.

He's New Here: Gil Scott-Heron Cited as Early Influencer

The phrase “ahead of their time” is thrown around a great deal, often a lazy way to describe someone’s music without having to actually specify why it’s so unique, but in the case of Gil Scott-Heron, there’s no question as to why he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an Early Influencer: he truly was a forefather of hip-hop and rap music.

Scott-Heron, who died in 2011 at the age of 62, was an active musician and artist until a year before his death, releasing his final studio album, I’m New Here, only a year before his passing. But while he doubtlessly continued to influence new artists with each and every record he released, it’s arguable that his most famous contribution was his 1974 compilation album, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, which really laid out in one succinct package just how much he’d brought to the table, artistically speaking.

Common delivered the induction speech for Scott-Heron, doing so simply but with a heartfelt reminder about how important the man’s work had been to generations of musicians:

“Poet, author, musician, artist...Gil Scott-Heron redefined our understanding of music with words so true they stung and a sound so powerful it couldn’t be ignored," the rapper said. "Setting his gripping poetry to a beat caught the attention of a nation, and that simple act would eventually become a cornerstone of what we now know as hip-hop. In 1970, he asked, 'Who will survive in America?' A question we ask with increasing urgency daily 50 years later. I’m so proud to pay homage to the brilliance of Gil Scott-Heron.”

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