Who Was the First Woman In the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Stevie Nicks just made history. The “Landslide” singer is now the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. She first became a member when Fleetwood Mac was inducted in 1998.

Janet Jackson also entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, making this one of the rare years where more than one woman was included on the inductee list. Of the more than 300 individual artists and groups in the Hall of Fame, fewer than 50 include a woman.

The other members of this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class are The Cure, Def Leppard, Radiohead, Roxy Music, and The Zombies.

Aretha Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin performing on the ‘VH1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin’ at Radio City Music Hal in 2001. | Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty Images

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been criticized for ignoring the contributions of women to music history. However, they did include Aretha Franklin in the second class of inductees. The Queen of Soul joined other icons like Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, and Bo Diddley in the 1987 group of inductees, making her the first woman in the Rock Hall. The following year, The Supremes became the first all-female group to join the Rock Hall of Fame.

Here are the other female members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

  • Aretha Franklin
  • Cynthia Weil
  • Bessie Smith
  • Billie Holliday
  • Debbie Harry (as part of Blondie)
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Brenda Lee
  • Darlene Love
  • Dinah Washington
  • Donna Summer
  • Dusty Springfield
  • Ellie Greenwich
  • Etta James
  • Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks (as part of Fleetwood Mac)
  • Carole King (as a songwriter with Garry Goffin)
  • Gladys Knight and the Pips
  • Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart
  • Tina Turner (with Ike Turner)
  • Janis Joplin
  • Grace Slick (with Jefferson Airplane)
  • Janet Jackson
  • Joan Baez
  • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Laura Nyro
  • Lavern Baker
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Ma Rainey
  • Madonna
  • Mahalia Jackson
  • Martha and the Vandellas
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Nina Simone
  • Patti Smith
  • Ruth Brown
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  • Cynthia Robinson (with Sly and the Family Stone)
  • Tina Weymouth (with the Talking Heads)
  • Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips (with the Mamas and the Papas)
  • Zola Taylor (with the Platters)
  • The Ronnettes
  • The Shirelles
  • Chrissie Hynde (with the Pretenders)
  • Mavis Staples, Cleoptha Staples, and Yvonne Staples of the Staples Singers
  • The Supremes
  • Maureen Tucker (with the Velvet Underground)
  • Wanda Jackson

How are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members selected? 

Selling a lot of records or earning critical praise isn’t enough to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To even be eligible for a nomination, at least 25 years must have passed since an act released its first recording. Then, you need to get on the ballot.

The process starts each year when a nominating committee picks that year’s contenders. In addition, fans can vote on who they’d like to see on the ballot, and the top vote-getters are also considered for inclusion among the nominees. Once the list is finalized, ballots then go out to 1,000 voters, including historians, people in the music industry, and living inductees. The top vote-getters earn a spot in the Rock Hall.

The somewhat opaque nominating and voting process inevitably leads to some fans feeling their favorite artist has been snubbed. It doesn’t help that the nominating committee lack diversity — a former member described it as “too old, too male, too white, too rich,” according to Billboard.

Sometimes nominees need to be on the ballot several times before winning induction. This year’s nomination for Janet Jackson, for example, was her third. Chaka Khan was nominated for the third time this year with the group Rufus, and has also been nominated twice as a solo artist. She still hasn’t made it into the Hall.

Other women who’ve been nominated by not made it into the Hall of Fame include Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics, Kate Bush, and The Marvelettes. Among the women who are eligible but haven’t been nominated at all are the Go-Gos, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, the Shangri-Las, Dolly Parton, and Bjork.

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