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American Music Masters :: Blog

Hall of Fame Series with Spooner Oldham

Friday, November 11: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Spooner Oldham

On November 2, 2011, Hall of Fame inductee Spooner Oldham spoke with and performed for a sold-out audience in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Foster Theater. Oldham is a linchpin of Southern Soul and the Alabama sound, a fixture of famed Muscle Shoals and FAME studios, where his keyboard playing enlivened some of the biggest rock and roll songs of the past 50 years, including Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man," Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." Together with singer-songwriter Dan Penn, Spooner contributed a number of classics to the canon of rock, co-writing "Cry Like a Baby" by the Box Tops, "It Tears Me Up" by Percy Sledge and "I'm Your Puppet" by James and Bobby Purify. 

Born Dewey Lyndon "Spooner" Oldham in Center Star, Alabama, Oldham is one of rock's most in-demand players, appearing on records and tours with luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Neil Young, in addition to newer act Drive-By Truckers. 

During his Hall of Fame series interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum director of education Jason Hanley, Oldham talked about ...


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A Surprise Performance

Thursday, November 10: 3 p.m.
Aretha Franklin on stage with (l-r) Ronald Isley and Dennis Edward

Our agreement with Aretha Franklin for this year’s American Music Masters program was that she would attend the tribute concert but would not perform. Of course, I always hoped that she would decide to sing a song, but I never pressed the issue. After all, hasn’t Aretha given us enough? We were gathered to honor what she has accomplished, not to demand more. We wanted to recognize, in professor Daphne Brooks’ words, “her brilliant body of work as a musician who materially and emotionally connected with mass audiences in complex ways that went unmatched by her peers.” The night’s fantastic performers did her justice and then some, as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Jerry Butler, Dennis Edwards and Ronald Isley, in addition to Cissy Houston, 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominee Chaka Khan, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Twinkie Clark, Carla Cook, Melinda Doolittle and Mike Farris all brought their A-game.

After Dr. Franklin received her honorary degree from Case Western Reserve at the beginning of the evening, she watched the show from the audience with her family. We worked it out that she would return backstage during the last song of Ms. Lauryn Hill ...


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The Soul of Dr. Franklin

Sunday, November 6: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Dr. Mary Davis
Dr. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin now holds the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, from Case Western Reserve University. Have I had a prouder moment in the 13 years I’ve been at CWRU than when I saw her in her blue robe, onstage with the university delegation, beaming as she received the award?  I don’t think so.  A more exciting introduction than the one that involved shaking Aretha’s hand and paying my respects? Definitely not. In the 16-year life of the American Music Masters series, CWRU has partnered with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to honor some great artists, all of them influential beyond the realm of music; from Woody Guthrie to Sam Cooke to Janis Joplin, they made our world a better place and shaped our lives. But with Aretha – and I write this listening to my favorite record, I Never Loved A Man, even though I’ve been steeped in her music over the past months, because I can’t get enough – we had the great chance and good fortune to also recognize one of the amazing, transformative figures of our time with a CWRU degree. This was serious business: the university doesn ...


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Today In Rock: Detroit Declares "Aretha Franklin Day"

Thursday, February 16: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Aretha Franklin has her day in Detroit

By February 1968, Aretha Franklin had established herself as among the world's premier recording artists, her genre-spanning recordings achieving commercial and critical acclaim, and appealing to mixed-race audiences around the world. The previous year had seen the release of I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You, her triumphant Atlantic Records debut produced by Jerry Wexler and recorded with an ace backing band at Rick Hall's Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The landmark soul recording included Franklin's righteous re-working of Otis Redding's "Respect," which rose to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100, and the inspired candor and groove of the album's title track. That same year, Wexler and engineer Tom Dowd worked with Franklin on her sophomore effort for Atlantic, Aretha Arrives, which included the hit single "Baby I Love You," peaking at Number Four on the Billboard Hot 100. Less than a year later, in January 1968, Lady Soul arrived, featuring "Chain of Fools" and "A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)," the latter written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Both singles charted in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10. It was in 1968 that legendary deejay ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Rock & Roll Music"

Tuesday, July 24: 10:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Chuck Berry is the Rock Hall's 2012 American Music Masters honoree

What do the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bill Haley, James Last, Jan and Dean, the Archies, the Dave Clark Five and REO Speedwagon have in common? They've all recorded Chuck Berry's "Rock & Roll Music." The Beach Boys even had a bigger hit with their 1976 version than Berry did with his own recording 19 years earlier. But only Berry could have created the song. "I wanted the lyrics to define every aspect of its being," he has written about the tune. They do, with his characteristic mix of enthusiasm and detached observation: a 30-year-old father of two in 1957, Berry was more objective about rock and roll – the music and the business – than his younger companions on the charts. A demo version, recorded five months before the released take, lacks what would become the opening verse, and in the chorus Berry sings, "if you wanna rock with me" – a verb later changed to "dance," probably for reasons of taste if not redundancy. Unusual for Berry, "Rock & Roll Music" contains no guitar solo. Instead, verses and choruses plow ahead, the witty product of an assured songwriter. Except for a break of mambo-styled rhythm mimicking the lyrics, "Rock & Roll Music ...


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Rare Performances: Chuck Berry Live in 1994

Tuesday, July 31: 10 a.m.
Chuck Berry honored Willie Dixon in 1994 and performed "Roll Over Beethoven"

At the 1994 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Chuck Berry paid tribute to his Chess Records label mate and frequent collaborator Willie Dixon with a moving induction speech and stirring performance of “Roll Over Beethoven.” Dixon contributed his robust and propulsive bass playing to numerous Berry hits, including “Maybellene” and “Roll Over Beethoven.” Berry’s performance that evening reflects the sheer joy that he brings to every performance. Berry’s generosity as a performer is also evident, as he leaves plenty of room for members of Paul Shaffer’s Induction Ceremony house band the opportunity to shine, along with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Grateful Dead keyboardist Bruce Hornsby and Blues Traveler’s John Popper. The Rock and Roll Hall Fame and Museum is delighted to honor Chuck Berry as this year’s American Music Masters honoree.

WATCH: Chuck Berry performs "Roll Over Beethoven" live


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Spotlight Exhibit: Chuck Berry Collection at the Library + Archives

Wednesday, October 17: 10:30 a.m.
Posted by Jennie Thomas
Chuck Berry UK tour program circa 1964 at the Rock Hall Library and Archives

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Case Western Reserve University will honor rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry during the 17th annual American Music Masters® (AMM) series this October. Roll Over Beethoven: The Life and Music of Chuck Berry, a weeklong celebration beginning October 22 and culminating with a special tribute concert on October 27, will tell the story of one of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

 As part of the celebration, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Library and Archives has created a spotlight exhibit illustrating both essential and lesser known details about Berry’s life and career through materials such as concert posters, photographs, books, and audio and video of live performances – from his start with Johnnie “B. Goode” Johnson in the Sir John Trio in 1952 to his resurgence in the 1970s.

Chuck Berry performance invoice Ohio the Raspberries bandThe exhibit contains 14 items from the Museum’s permanent collections, including sheet music to his 1955 hit song “Maybellene” that helped ignite the rock and roll revolution; a promotional photograph for “School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)” from his first album After School ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: Chuck Berry's Handwritten Lyrics

Wednesday, October 17: 10:31 a.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
The Rock Hall will celebrate Chuck Berry's 86th birthday with two special exhibits

Among the first artists ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, Chuck Berry is often referred to as the "Father of Rock and Roll" – a well deserved title, according to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer. In this clip, Kramer shares the handwritten lyrics to two of Chuck Berry's famous recordings: "Carol" and "School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell)." The Rock Hall will celebrate Chuck Berry's 86th birthday on October 18 with two special exhibits: a Chuck Berry Spotlight Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and a special Chuck Berry exhibit at the Rock Hall's Library and Archives. Berry is the 2012 American Music Masters honoree, and his life and work will be celebrated with a weeklong series of events beginning on October 22, 2012 and culminating in a Chuck Berry–tribute concert on October 27, 2012.


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