Texas icon Willie Nelson earns new accolade: Rock & Roll Hall of Famer

Willie Nelson, dressed in black, faces the camera with Trigger in his lap

Willie Nelson
Photo: Pamela Springsteen

In a year already piled high with accolades and adoration, Texas icon Willie Nelson can add another superlative to the list: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

Following in fellow country superstar Dolly Parton’s footsteps — she was inducted last year, and initially declined the nomination — the newly 90-year-old Nelson will join the eclectic roster of Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Sheryl Crow, Rage Against the Machine and the Spinners as part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2023.

The seven new members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were selected from 14 nominees by over 1,000 fellow artists and members of the music industry, as well as online voting by fans. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 3 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

“We are honored that this November’s induction ceremony in New York will coincide with two milestones in music culture: The 90th birthday of Willie Nelson and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop,” said John Sykes, chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, in a statement.

Indeed, Nelson is fresh from a star-studded, two-night celebration (dubbed “Willie 90”) of his birthday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The guest list included plenty of North Texas talent, such as Leon Bridges, Miranda Lambert, the Chicks, Norah Jones, and Stephen Stills.

If that multi-day, mega-watt blowout and a date with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame wasn’t enough, Nelson has one more tribute on his calendar: May 12 at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin.

Nelson will receive the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award that evening, and will be on the receiving end of musical tributes from Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Elle King and Lyle Lovett. Per press materials, net proceeds from the gala event will benefit the newly established Willie Nelson Endowment for Uplifting Rural Communities at the LBJ School of Public Affairs on the University of Texas campus.

“It’s a reflection of Willie’s impactful legacy that these extraordinary artists will be paying tribute to him,” said Larry Temple, chairman of the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees, in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier with how the evening is shaping up.”

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.