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Chairman John Sykes talks about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

John Sykes, the Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, chatted at the press room prior to the induction ceremony.

Sheryl Crow posing with her trophy at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Sheryl Crow posing with her trophy at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Photo Credit: © Markos Papadatos
Sheryl Crow posing with her trophy at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Photo Credit: © Markos Papadatos

John Sykes, the Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, chatted at the press room prior to the induction ceremony, which was held on November 3rd at the Barclays Center in New York.

2023 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2023 featured such inductees as Sheryl Crow, Kate Bush (who did not attend), Rage Against the Machine, Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott, George Michael (posthumously), and The Spinners in the “Performers” category.

Chaka Khan received the “Musical Excellence Award” while the “Musical Influence Award” (formerly known as the “Early Influence” Award) went to DJ Kool Herc and to guitar legend Link Wray posthumously.

John Sykes defines what ‘rock and roll’ is…

Sykes noted that they are celebrating “rock and roll,” which is “a spirit and an attitude.” “Rock and roll was really created in the ’50s from rhythm, blues, gospel, and country. Somewhere along the line, it got called ‘rock.’ Rock is a part of rock and roll but it’s just one part.”

He continued, “Six of the first inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were black artists, which included Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and James Brown,” Sykes said. “Years later, you had country artists such as Hank Williams and Brenda Lee. Rock and roll is this wonderful and diverse amalgamation of sounds that have one thing in common: attitude and change.”

John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Kaplan for iHeartRadio.

“If you look back, you will notice that these artists moved people in the same way that Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis moved kids, as did The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Missy Elliott, and Jay-Z.”

“It really is a true spirit,” Sykes admitted. “When you put on a Motown record, it is the sound of young America. I can’t think of a better description of rock and roll.”

Sykes underscored that rock and roll does not have any bias between color or gender. “It is all about spirit and attitude,” he reiterated.

Future of the Rock Hall in the next five years

When asked by this journalist where he sees the future of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the next five years, Sykes responded, “To be successful, to be relevant. Follow the sounds, and follow the sounds of the artists we induct. Remember that we are on a 25 year delay, so we can’t induct anybody that released music prior to the late ’90s.”

“This year was Missy Elliott’s first year of eligibility, and she got in her first ballot, and a few years ago, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, and Eminem, got in their first ballots,” he added.

The 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is available to stream on Disney+ and ABC, will air a special on Monday, January 1.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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