Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T.Rex are the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2020 inductees, the organization announced this morning. Receiving the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which is essentially for non-performing professionals, are longtime Bruce Springsteen manager and former music critic Jon Landau and veteran Eagles manager and multifaceted executive Irving Azoff.
The 35th annual ceremony will be broadcast live for the first time this year — May 2, on HBO, from the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. Tickets are on sale Feb. 27; performances and special guests will be announced later.
This year’s performance lineup will inevitably be filled with tribute performances, as half of the inductees — Houston, Notorious B.I.G. (real name: Christopher Wallace) and Marc Bolan of T. Rex — are deceased.
Voters seem to have had diversity at least partially in mind: two of the six nominees are black — the Hall’s past inductees are overwhelmingly white — although just one (Houston) is female. The noms also reach across several time periods, with the Doobie Brothers and T. Rex dating primarily from the 1970s, new wave icons Depeche Mode and pop superstar Houston from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and alternative-rock titans Nine Inch Nails and Notorious B.I.G. dating from the ‘90s and, in the former case, into the ‘00s. Notorious B.I.G. is indisputably one of the greatest rappers of all time and his career would likely have extended far beyond 1997, the year he was murdered.
Artists who were nominated but not inducted this year are Pat Benatar, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, Dave Matthews Band, MC5, Motorhead, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy.
Four of the inductees — the Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G. and T. Rex — and nine of the 16 total nominees were on the ballot for the first time, with nominees Dave Matthews Band, Motorhead, Pat Benatar, Soundgarden and Thin Lizzy filling out that list. Chaka Khan, with and without the group Rufus, and Kraftwerk have both been up six times. To be eligible this year, each nominee’s first single or album had to be released in 1994 or earlier.
Last year’s inductees were the Cure, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, Roxy Music and the Zombies, making for an exceptionally strong show.
Accordng to the announcement, ballots were sent to an international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, including current living Inductees, historians and members of the music industry. Factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique are taken into consideration. The original 16 nominees that were considered for induction were selected by a nominating committee in September of 2019.
Klipsch Audio, a global speaker and headphone manufacturer, is a strategic partner and presenting sponsor of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, its Induction Ceremony events and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Main Stage.