Famous Okies: Oklahomans inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Musician Leon Russell dies, wife says
Posted at 9:50 AM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 09:37:53-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame unveiled this year's induction class Wednesday morning.

SEE MORE: 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class

Several famous Oklahomans are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Woody Guthrie, Class of 1988

Woody Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter, and one of the most significant figures in early American folk music. His work focused on themes of American socialism and anti-fascism.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame writes on their website that Guthrie started more than one music revolution and without him, there would be no Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, or Joan Baez.

SEE MORE: Bruce Springsteen wins Woody Guthrie prize

Guthrie was inducted in 1988 by Neil Young as an Early Influences in music.

Andrew Schwartz wrote this essay about Guthrie:

Woody Guthrie was a stubborn, moody, irresponsible and just plain ornery soul; a hard-drinking egomaniac who ''borrowed” nearly all of the melodies of his many songs; an irregular source of support to his wives and children; and one of the world’s worst house guests.

Woody Guthrie was also one of America’s greatest folk poets and the author of literally thousands of songs, including "Pastures of Plenty,” "Reuben James,” "Grand Coulee Dam,” "Do Re Mi,” "So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You” and "This Land Is Your Land.”

Wanda Jackson, Class of 2009

Wanda Jackson is a retired American singer, songwriter, pianist, and guitarist who had success in the mid-1950s and 1960s as one of the first popular female rockabilly singers, and a pioneering rock-and-roll artist.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame writes on their website that Jackson was one of the first women to break into rock and roll’s boys club.

Jackson was inducted in 2009 by Roseanne Cash as an Early Influences in music.

Holly George-Warren wrote this essay about Jackson:

In 1958, when a gutsy, guitar-playing gal from Oklahoma belted out this mandate for new music, she was the rare woman among the rockabilly cats mixing up rhythm & blues and country & western, creating primal rock roll in the process.

Wanda Jackson wasn’t afraid to step outside the prim confines of a woman’s place in pop - sonically, lyrically, and aesthetically. She snarled, using a “nasty” voice to sing sassy lyrics, when “girl singers” were supposed to sound pretty and look pretty.

Instead of going the cowgirl, country lass, or prom queen route, the gorgeous brunette dressed in befringed cocktail dresses that shimmied and shook as she cut the rug onstage.

Leon Russell, Class of 2011

Leon Russell was an American musician and songwriter who was involved with numerous bestselling pop music records during his 60-year career. His genres included pop, country, rock, folk, gospel, bluegrass, rhythm and blues, folk-rock, blues rock, surf, standards, and Tulsa Sound.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame writes on their website that Russell's work touched millions of rock and roll fans and was revered by his peers.

Russell was inducted in 2011 by Elton John in the Music Excellence category.

David Fricke wrote this essay about Russell:

The names and stories come in steady, unhurried succession through a deep, gritty drawl, like a lazy river rolling over a bed of rattling stones—during lunch, between takes at a recording session, and back in his Nashville living room as Leon Russell sits in a padded-leather lounge chair, idly stroking his snow-white beard as he talks.

“I don’t think of my story or history,” the singer-pianist-songwriter-producer, now 68, claims at one point. “It reminds me of my mortality, and I don’t like to think about that.” He adds a rumbling laugh for emphasis—then keeps going.

READ MORE: Famous Okies: Leon Russell

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