From Aretha Franklin to Whitney Houston: Celebrating the Women of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airs on HBO on Saturday, Nov. 7, making Whitney Houston the latest woman to join the ranks. A look back at all the ladies who've come before her.

By Billy Nilles Nov 07, 2020 2:00 PMTags
Watch: Remembering Whitney Houston 9 Years Later: E! News Rewind

It's been a big year for Whitney Houston fans.

In March, the late legend's 1992 cover of "I Will Always Love You" was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry, established to preserve sound recordings that are deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States."

In October, she made history as the first Black artist to have three Recording Industry Association of America-certified Diamond albums, with 1987's Whitney joining her 1985 self-titled debut and the 1992 soundtrack to The Bodyguard at having sold 10 million units.

And to top it off, she's been formally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with the 2020 induction ceremony due to air on HBO on Saturday, Nov. 7. Though she first became eligible to join the prestigious club of music greats in 2010—25 years after the release of her first record, as per the rules—the nomination for the Class of 2020 was her first. Out of 16 acts nominated, she's one of only six who've been voted in this year—and the lone woman in the bunch.

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In fact, her induction into the Performers category puts her in league with an elite group of female artists who've carved out space for themselves in an overwhelmingly male-dominated field. If only she were here to see it.

As we wait to see how presenter Alicia Keys pays tribute to Houston during this year's ceremony, take a look at all the fierce females who came before her in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Zumapress; Getty Images; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration
Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards did the honors.

The Supremes

The iconic Motown girl group comprising Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson (pictured here) was inducted by Little Richard in 1988.

LaVern Baker

Known for '50s-era pop hits "Tweedle Dee" and "Jim Dandy," the blues and R&B singer was inducted by Chaka Khan in 1991.

Tina Turner

In 1991, she was inducted alongside her abusive ex-husband Ike Turner, the duo recognized for their work in the '60s and '70s on hits like "Proud Mary" and "River Deep—Mountain High." Fans have been vocal about their desire to see Turner inducted once more in recognition of her solo work.

Ruth Brown

Known for bringing a pop music style to R&B during her heyday on the Atlantic Records roster in the 1950s, Brown was inducted in 1993 by Bonnie Raitt.

Etta James

k.d. lang was on hand in 1993 to induct the woman responsible for indelible hits such as "At Last" and "Something's Got a Hold on Me."

Janis Joplin

The psychedelic rock star, who died of a heroin overdose in 1970, was inducted by Melissa Etheridge in 1995.

Martha and the Vandellas

Best known for their hit "Dancing in the Street," this Motown girl group comprising Martha Reeves, Rosalind Ashford-Holmes, Betty Kelly, Lois Reeves and Annette Beard-Helton was inducted in 1995 by Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson of The B-52's.

Gladys Knight

The iconic soul singer was inducted in 1996 by Mariah Carey, along with her group the Pips, featuring her brother Merald "Bubba" Knight and cousins William Guest and Edward Patten.

The Shirelles

This doo-wop girl group comprising Shirley Alston Reeves, Addie Harris, Doris Kenner-Jackson and Beverly Lee were inducted in 1996 by Merry Clayton, Marianne Faithfull and Darlene Love.

Maureen "Moe" Tucker of The Velvet Underground

As drummer of the proto-punk rock band, Moe was inducted alongside bandmates Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison in 1996. Patti Smith gave their induction speech.

Joni Mitchell

The influential singer-songwriter known for classics like "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Both Sides, Now" was inducted in 1997 by Shawn Colvin.

Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac

As the founding females of the iconic band, Stevie and Christine were inducted in 1998 alongside their bandmates Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Danny Kirwan, John McVie and Jeremy Spencer. Sheryl Crow delivered their induction speech. Nicks was inducted again, as a solo artist, in 2019 by Harry Styles.

Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliott of The Mamas and the Papas

The '60s-era folk rock group—Michelle and ex-husband John Phillips, Denny Doherty and Elliott, who died of heart failure in 1974—were inducted in 1998 by Shania Twain.

Dusty Springfield

The English pop singer known for hits such as "Wishin' and Hopin'" and "Son of a Preacher Man" was posthumously inducted in 1999 by Elton John, just two weeks after she'd lost a long battle with cancer. Dusty's sister Vicky Wickham accepted the honor on her behalf.

Cleotha, Mavis and Yvonne Staples of The Staple Singers

The soul-singing sisters, their father Roebuck "Pops" Staples and brother Pervis Staples were inducted by Lauryn Hill in 1999. 

Bonnie Raitt

The legendary blues singer and guitarist was inducted by Melissa Etheridge in 2000.

Brenda Lee

Jewel was tasked with inducting this country music legend, known for her hits "I'm Sorry" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," in 2002. Fun fact: Lee is the only woman in both the Rock and Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame.

Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads

As the bassist in the pioneering new wave group, Weymouth was inducted in 2002 alongside bandmates David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison. Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis delivered their induction speech.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders

As the lead singer of the English new wave band known for hits like "Brass in Pocket" and "Back on the Chain Gang," Hynde was inducted alongside surviving member Martin Chambers, as well as their late compatriots Pete Farndon and James Honeyman-Scott, in 2005.

Debbie Harry of Blondie

In 2006, Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson helped induct the "Heart of Glass" singer and her bandmates Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri, Nigel Harrison, Frank Infante, Chris Stein and Gary Valentine.

The Ronettes

This girl group composed of sisters Ronnie Spector and Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley were inducted by Keith Richards in 2007.

Patti Smith

The influential "punk poet laureate" was inducted in 2007 by Rage Against the Machine vocalist Zack de la Rocha.

Madonna

The Queen of Pop was a member of the Class of 2008, inducted by her "4 Minutes" duet partner Justin Timberlake.

Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA

The ladies of the Swedish disco supergroup responsible for "Mamma Mia" were inducted in 2010 alongside Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Darlene Love

Bette Midler helped induct this soul singer, best known for her holiday classic "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," in 2011.

Laura Nyro

Midler returned a year later to posthumously induct the jazz singer-songwriter, who died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 49.

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart

The "Barracuda" singers were inducted in 2013 along with the rest of their band, Michael DeRosier, Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen and Howard Leese.

Donna Summer

The late Queen of Disco was inducted in 2013, a year after she died of lung cancer at the age of 63.

Linda Ronstadt

The singer-songwriter who dabbled in genres as varied as rock, country, light opera, and Latin was officially inducted in 2014 following a speech from Eagles frontman Glenn Frey.

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The 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airs Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max.