Nina Simone, Tupac and ELO all set to receive special honours
Nina Simone, ELO and Sly Stone are among the artists who will receive lifetime honours from the Grammys and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
Six artists have been selected to enter the Rock Hall, including folk star Joan Baez and grunge act Pearl Jam.
Tupac Shakur will be only the fifth hip-hop artist recognised, after the likes of Run DMC and Public Enemy.
The Grammys will honour art-rock band Velvet Underground and funk legend Sly Stone with their special merit awards.
In a statement, the Recording Academy said the Velvet Underground, whose career was masterminded by Andy Warhol, were “ahead of their time, both visually and sonically”.
“Despite a relatively brief lifespan and limited commercial success, the Velvet Underground are now recognised as one of the most influential rock bands of all time,” it added.
Stone, who was the lead singer in Sly and the Family Stone, was praised by the Academy for playing “a critical role in the development of soul, funk, rock, and psychedelia”.
Other recipients include gospel singer Shirley Caesar, jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, guitarist Charley Pride, country star Jimmie Rodgers and jazz legend Nina Simone.
The singer and pianist, who died in 2003, became famous in the 1950s and is known for classic songs including Feeling Good and I Put a Spell on You.
Her haunting interpretation of Strange Fruit, a 1937 poem about the lynching of African Americans in the Southern United States, became an anthem for the civil rights movement.
The musicians will be celebrated in February as part of the festivities in the run up to the Grammy Awards.
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said: “This year’s special merit award recipients comprise a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have crafted or contributed to some of the most distinctive recordings in music history.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is arguably the more prestigious honour, is voted for by 900 historians, members of the music industry and artists, including every living Rock Hall inductee.
Artists become eligible 25 years after the release of their first album or single. 2017 is the first year Pearl Jam and Tupac Shakur were eligible. They are also the first artists to join the institution who started their careers in the 1990s.
British prog rock band Yes, on the other hand, have been eligible for 26 years.
“It’s a bit like waiting for a train,” guitarist Steve Howe told Rolling Stone. “Maybe it’s on time and you just noticed waiting. I don’t regret the wait. I just feel this must be the right time.”
Joan Baez said she was taken aback by the honour.
“I never considered myself to be a rock and roll artist,” she said in a statement, “But as part of the folk music boom which contributed to and influenced the rock revolution of the Sixties, I am proud that some of the songs I sang made their way into the rock lexicon.”
Don’t Stop Believing hitmakers Journey will also be inducted to the Rock Hall, while Nile Rodgers will receive a special award – after his disco-era band Chic failed to make the cut after its 11th nomination.
Other who lost out on a place this year include Chaka Khan (nominated three times), Janet Jackson (twice) and Depeche Mode (once).
The induction ceremony will take place on 7 April at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. HBO will broadcast the highlights, which often include an all-star jam featuring past and present winners.