Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s songwriter, received a Musical Excellence Award at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tonight. John gave a speech detailing his and Taupin’s origin story and longtime friendship. After Taupin’s speech, John performed the Taupin-penned classic “Tiny Dancer.”
Taupin gave a speech specifically citing his many influences, discussed his creative “marriage” to John, and called on the Rock Hall to induct one of his idols, Merle Haggard. Then Taupin took a moment to reference Jann Wenner, who was removed from the Rock Hall’s board of directors this year after comments about why he didn’t include interviews with Black artists or women in his book The Masters.
“I guess you could say my being inducted is a paradox, perhaps, but either way, I’m honored to be in the class of 2023 alongside a group of such profoundly ‘articulate’ women and outstanding ‘articulate’ Black artists along with all of the other music masters here tonight,” Taupin said. Wenner had said that the female artists he encountered during his time at Rolling Stone were not “articulate enough” to include in the book and gave examples of Black artists who “didn’t articulate at that level.”
Taupin’s fellow Musical Excellence Award winners are Chaka Khan and Al Kooper. The class of 2023 inductees are Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, Sheryl Crow, the Spinners, and George Michael. This year’s Musical Influence Awards went to hip-hop legend DJ Kool Herc and the late Link Wray. Don Cornelius, the late creator of Soul Train, was posthumously honored with the Ahmet Ertegun Award.
Read Pitchfork’s recent review of Elton John’s Honky Château.