Near the end of last year, the 2017 class of award-winning musicians was announced for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Although none of this year’s listed artists hail from Michigan, and we do appreciate the nice, yet perplexing reference to “South Detroit” in Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” there are plenty of musicians lucky enough to actually call Michigan home.
The headquarters of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are in Cleveland (save your hate for all things Ohio), but many Michiganders are in the prestigious rock winners circle. Eligibility requirements indicate the artists/groups/composers become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Inductees must have had a significant impact on the development, evolution, and preservation of rock and roll, according to the Hall.
We’ve come up with ten Michiganders who have achieved Rock and Roll Hall of Fame glory:
1980’s Hall of Fame
Aretha Franklin, 1987
Hometown: Memphis, grew up in Detroit
Starting the list with a technicality is never good, but when you’re Aretha, it doesn’t matter. Though she was born in Memphis, Detroit is proud to name Franklin as our own soulful product of Michigan. Having recorded her debut album of “Songs of Faith” at her father’s place of work, New Bethel Baptist Church, it seems as though the 313 really had this Queen’s back.
The “Queen of Soul” has the honor of not only being the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but she’s also lucky enough to have grown up in Detroit.
Franklin charted forty-three, Top Forty singles since 1961. She’s earned 18 Grammy Awards and has performed at the inaugurations of two U.S. presidents, as well as receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor from George W. Bush.
Jackie Wilson, 1987
Hometown: Highland Park
The four-octave vocal range singer was nicknamed “Mr. Excitement,” and it showed in his live performances. His early days were spent in the group Billy Ward & His Dominoes, before going solo and bringing rhythm and blues to American households during televised performances all across the nation during the ’50s, and ’60s.
Wilson’s popularity was through the roof during his time, he even headlined a British show where four young lads from Liverpool opened up for him. Maybe you’ve heard of them … The Beatles.
Wilson is a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee and was ranked #69 of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time from Rolling Stone magazine.
Berry Gordy Jr., 1988
Having landed a spot in the non-performer category, Berry Gordy Jr. has certainly spent his time amongst the stars, many of them before they were famous. The Motown mogul helped shape the lives of many young people, including fellow Detroit artists and forever changed the landscape of music as we know it.
Gordy Jr. nurtured the Supremes, Jr. Walker & the All-Stars, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, and Martha and the Vandellas. Previous record label endeavors occurred before he purchased the house at 2648 West Grand Boulevard, which has since become Hitsville U.S.A. In its greatest year, Motown’s “hit ratio” was an impressive 75% – the percentage of records released that made the national charts. Since then, no other record label has come close to curating and celebrating the “sound of young America.”
Diana Ross, 1988
Diana Ross was born in Detroit to a working-class family. She grew up there, and was neighbors with Smokey Robinson, later attending Cass Technical High School, a magnet school downtown.
In 1960, she auditioned with Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Betty McGlown, known as The Primettes, for Motown Records. Later being renamed to The Supremes, the group’s first number one hit was “Where Did Our Love Go.”
Ross is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors from 2007, and most recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Having been nominated for twelve Grammys, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, Ross continues to receive high honors for her musical success.
Named “Female Entertainer of the Century” by Billboard Magazine, and Guinness Book of World Record holder for the most successful female music artist in history, having more hits than any female artist in the charts: 70 hit singles from her Supremes days and solo material.
Stevie Wonder, 1989
Blind since an infant, Stevland Judkins, the multi-instrumentalist child prodigy attended the Michigan School for the Blind in Lansing. After landing a record deal with Motown at the age of 11, Stevie already solidified his spot amongst the greats of the singer-songwriter world.
With hits like “For Once in My Life,” “Signed, Sealed Delivered,” “Superstition,” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” Wonder has somehow navigated an unforeseen path of musical genius for decades. He’s received 25 Grammys, sold over 100 million records, and been awarded for his activism and political involvement.
1990’s Hall of Fame
Glen Frey, 1998
Hometown: Detroit, grew up in Royal Oak
Starting piano lessons at a young age, Glenn Frey started his first band, the Subterraneans. Following graduation from Dondero High School, Frey joined The Four of Us, while attending Oakland Community College.
After landing a spot playing guitar and background vocals on the recording of Seger’s “Rambin’ Gamblin’ Man,” Frey became a seasoned and reputable musician across the Detroit scene. After moving to LA, Frey met drummer Don Henley and later founded The Eagles.
The Eagles first best-of album, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, was the first album to sell one million copies, labeling it certified platinum. Selling more records in the seventies than any other American band, The Eagles were led by their fearless leader Glenn Frey until his untimely death in 2016.
2000’s Hall of Fame
Bob Seger, 2004
Hometown: Lincoln Park, grew up in Ann Arbor
Robert Clark Seger was born into a musical family, with his father working at the Ford Motor plant by day and big band leader by night. An early Seger single, “Heavy Music,” reached number one in the Motor City and sold 60,000 copies.
His first headlining show in an arena would go on to become the best-selling “Live Bullet” album recorded at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. The live album sold 4 million copies and was Seger’s first gold record. The rock ‘n’ roller has continued to give shout-outs to his home, including his homage to Detroit with his single,”Detroit Made” cruising down Woodward Avenue in the music video.
Hometown: Bay City
Madonna has done it all: music, movies, TV, fashion, books — you name it. Growing up in a Catholic church family, Madonna didn’t rebel until after her mother’s death and her father’s new relationship. She attended Rochester Adams High School and got a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
After becoming a breakthrough star in the eighties, Madonna has had seven #1 hits and became a pioneer for women in rock. She has sold more than 300 million records across the globe and is recognized as the greatest selling female recording artist of all time by the Guinness World Records. Madonna is also the highest-grossing solo touring artist of all time, listed as number one of the 100 Greatest Women in Music by VH1 and number 2 on Billboard’s Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time lists.[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79fzeNUqQbQ]
2010’s Hall of Fame
Iggy Pop, 2010
Hometown: Muskegon, grew up in and Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor
To some, he’s James Newell Osterberg, to others he’s Iggy Pop, to most musicians, he’s the godfather of punk. Born in Muskegon, Pop grew up in a trailer park on the outskirts of Ypsilanti and attended the University of Michigan for a short time before dropping out and moving to Chicago to play in blues bands.
Inspired by bands like The Doors and the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop formed The Stooges and went on to influence countless future punk rock bands for decades to come. His high-energy, zany, unpredictable, shirtless stage moments prove both memorable and unrivaled.
Alice Cooper, 2011
Vincent Furnier was born into a religious family, with his father a preacher. Fast-forward decades later, and Vincent is making a name for himself as the “King of Shock Rock” with his band, Alice Cooper. The heavy metal glam rock band remained in Detroit as its home base until the early seventies, before moving to L.A. where hits like “School’s Out” and “I’m Eighteen” took the metal and rock scenes by storm.
His on-stage style, makeup, and wardrobe gave way to glam rock. The Rolling Stone Album Guide named Alice Cooper the world’s most “beloved heavy metal entertainer.”
Those are just some of the greats in music that were lucky enough to call Michigan home. Are there other Mitten State acts that are your favorite? Predictions for some future Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees to come out of our state? Let’s show our Michigan music pride in the comments below!