23 January 1986 23 January 1986

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

January 23, 1986: Pop music pioneers among first inductees of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Elvis, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry were among the first 11 artists to be welcomed into the new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a glittering ceremony in New York City.

The first 11 artists to be inducted into the new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were celebrated at a gala event in New York on this day in 1986.

After more than a year of planning, the induction took place in front of an all-star audience in the Grand Ballroom of the city’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

Eleven artists – all American, and each of whom had shaped the early years of rock and roll music – were selected for the honour; namely, James Brown, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis.

The living inductees were all present to receive the honour from an artist that had been influenced by their work; Billy Joel for Domino, Stevie Winwood for Brown and Keith Richards for Berry were among those who introduced their heroes.

Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers and Jimmy Yancey were also inducted in the Early Influences category, while DJ Alan Freed and Sun Records producer Sam Phillips were honoured as Non-Performers.

The project was the brainchild of legendary Atlantic Records founder and chairman Ahmet Ergetun, who established the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983.

The Hall of Fame was later to take tangible shape in the form of a museum, which was built in Cleveland, Ohio and opened in September 1995 with a ceremony and concert attended by 10,000 spectators.