Are you ready for the country? Rock and Roll Hall nominates Willie Nelson
Feb. 5—Willie Nelson's nomination as a 2023 inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame following Dolly Parton's 2022 induction is an indication the Rock Hall may be on-point to recognize country music artists to the same degree that rhythm and blues artists are honored.
Willie's among 14 artists nominated for a Rock Hall induction this year representing a variety of genres and a few that are almost a genre unto themselves, such as the British performance artist Kate Bush.
This year's slew of nominations also includes rockers Sheryl Crow, Warren Zevon, The White Stripes, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine and Joy Division/New Order for the two bands mostly comprised of the same musicians.
Also nominated is the heavy metal band Iron Maiden, the soul/R&B group the Spinners, with Cyndi Lauper and George Michael nominated from the pop music field, and. Missy Elliott and a Tribe Called Quest representing the hip-hop field.
With rock 'n' roll famously defined as a hybrid of county music and rhythm and blues, with a gospel music influence as well, representatives of the Rock Hall are indicating they're ready to recognize more of country music's influence on rock 'n' roll from the very beginning. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame even issued a new mission statement in January pointing out country music's connection to the birth of rock 'n' roll music.
"Born from the collision of rhythm and blues, country and gospel, rock and roll is a spirit that is inclusive and ever-changing," the Rock Hall's new mission statement reads.
Willie is certainly deserving of the induction, with his fan base including those from country, rock, jazz, the blues, gospel, hip hop and reggae music.
He helped form Farm Aid, along with rockers Neil Young and John Mellencamp, playing to a diverse audience every year during the concert designed to raise money to aid American farmers.
Following announcement of the nominees, inductees are to be announced in May, with the induction ceremony to come later in the year at a venue to be announced.
That means Willie will learn if he's been inducted shortly after his 90th birthday, on April 29.
Willie's already planning a big birthday celebration. Billed as "Long Story Short, Celebrating Willie, 90th Birthday," it's set for a two-night guest-filled concert celebration on April 29-30 at the Hollywood Bowl.
It already has an all-star lineup with artists from all sorts of genres ready to help honor Willie on his 90th birthday, with more expected to be announced later.
So far, they include Neil Young, Chris Stapleton, Snoop Dog, Kasey Musgraves, Bob Weir, Billy Strings, Roseanne Cash, Tom Jones, the Avett Brothers, Norah Jones, Warren Haynes, The Chicks, The Lumineers and Ziggy Marley.
Part of the fun as the party approaches will be guessing what song of Willie's each guest artist will perform. As of now, the field is wide open, but I wouldn't be surprised if Tom Jones does a turn on "Willie's song, "Funny How Time Slips Away." After all, Jones has already recorded it and it's one of my favorite deep cuts by the Welsh singer.
What an exclamation point it will be if Willie's star-studded 90th birthday celebration at the Hollywood Bowl is capped with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I will be surprised if that doesn't happen, given how many artists across all those genres are already Willie Nelson fans. Surely, some of those are Rock Hall voters.
His 90th birthday celebration is not all of the activities Willie has planned for 2023. His 99th studio album — 99th! — is set for release on March. Titled "I Don't Know a Thing About Love," it's a tribute to late Nashville songwriter, the great Harlan Howard. When Willie's live albums and compilation albums are included, the number of his total albums grows to 147.
Last year, Dolly tried to turn down her nomination for inclusion in the Rock Hall, saying there were rock 'n' roll artists who should have been inducted before her. When the Rock Hall informed her they were keeping her nomination intact and others outside the mainstream rock category have previously been nominated and inducted, she dropped her request to be withdrawn as a nominee and instead embraced the honor.
When the announcement came that Dolly had made the 2022 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Dolly performed a brand new rock 'n' roll song she'd written, named "Rockin' It." In the song, she sang about her love for the music of early rock 'n' roll artists including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Carl Perkins.
"I've still got rock and roll down in my country soul, and I'll be rockin' it till the cows come home," Dolly sang.
Following her induction by Pink, Dolly also sang a couple of her hits, "Coat of Many Colors" and "9 to 5" before being joined onstage by an all-star cast. Joining Dolly and Pink for a group rendition of Dolly's timeless song "Jolene" were the Zac Brown Band — which had backed her on her solo songs — along with Sheryl Crow, Pat Benatar and Nick Giraldo, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, Annie Lenox and Dave Stewart, formerly of The Eurythmics and even Rob Halford, the singer for rockers Judas Priest. With Dolly and Halford standing almost nose-to-nose at one point, and with both dressed in what looked like black leather, they looked as if they were having an awesome time.
Dolly felt so inspired that she's now recording a rock album, the aptly-named "Rock Star," consisting of covers of classic rock songs as well as some of her originals. She's already lined up some iconic artists to sing on the album, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Pink, Brandi Carlile, Steve Perry, Steven Tyler, Joan Jett and others.
One of the covers include Dolly and John Fogerty singing a duet on his Creedence Clearwater Revival song, "Long As I Can See the Light."
One more thing. While Willie's two night celebration at the Hollywood Bowl opens on his 90th birthday on April 29, those who attend only the April 30 performance can say they were there on Willie's birthday, too.
That's because Willie's birth, shortly before midnight on April 29, wasn't recorded on his birth certificate until the following morning, on April 30.
Willie — either to avoid confusion or to find a good reason for a party — celebrates both birthdays every year.