The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


January 2012 | Blog Archives

Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs

Monday, January 30: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Siouxsie Sioux

Many women found a new voice and musical identity during the punk-rock explosion of the Seventies. The anti-establishment philosophy of the punk rock movement was the perfect fit for those female musicians who still felt like outsiders in the male-dominated music industry. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth said, “I think women are natural anarchists, because you're always operating in a male framework.” Patti Smith paved the way at legendary punk venue CBGB in New York City with her fusion of experimental poetry and garage rock. British female punk rockers, such as the Slits, Raincoats, Siouxsie and the Banshees and X-Ray Spex responded to working-class discontent and racial division in Britain. Across the Atlantic, in the United States, musicians including Deborah Harry of Blondie, Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Poison Ivy of the Cramps added new sounds and ideas to the punk rock formula. “That was the beauty of the punk thing: [sexual] discrimination didn’t exist in that scene,” once noted Chrissie Hynde. Here the Rock Hall presents Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs. 

1. Patti Smith – "Piss Factory"

Patti Smith was dubbed the "godmother of punk," a moniker with merit. Smith's debut single was ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "The Message"

Wednesday, January 25: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler) didn't want to make "The Message." His emcees, the Furious Five, apart from Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), thought it was a bad idea. But when this grim slice of urban journalism hit in the summer of 1982, it was as inevitable as Woody Guthrie once had been: It was politics taken to the streets. Until "The Message," rap had been largely celebratory music, reflecting its block-party roots. When Sugar Hill Records eminence Sylvia Robinson pushed for "The Message" – ultimately a collaboration between Glover and studio percussionist Duke Bootee (Ed Fletcher) – the others balked: who wanted to take their problems to the dance floor? Still, the song took off, reaching an audience that had once dismissed rap as idle boasting, countering such notions with lead rapper Melle Mel's repeated, weary conclusion: It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under. For all its success, though, the song had its detractors. While many considered it the greatest rap statement of all time, others called it a sop for white people. However, like most groundbreaking records, "The Message" transcended the rhetoric. It cleared the way for a new kind ...


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An Evening With Rosie Flores and "the Female Elvis"

Tuesday, January 24: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Janis Martin

Dubbed "the female Elvis," Virginia native Janis Martin's sobriquet alone fostered great expectations for the young performer in the 1950s. As the fusion of R&B and country evolved into rockabilly, and a charge of primarily male artists heralded its arrival, she was a rarity – though her musicianship, charismatic stage persona and a series of memorable recordings meant the annals of history would not dismiss her as a novelty. 

A precocious performer reared in a family of musicians, Martin's earliest experiences singing and playing guitar came before she reached her teens. Although initially drawn to country music, Martin's exposure to R&B in the Fifties proved captivating, and the resulting genre-blending sound she cultivated was enough to pique the interest of RCA/Victor, who signed her when she was 15 years old. "Victor, having taken the gamble with Presley and emerged a winner, has now come up with the 'Female Elvis Presley.' This lass is Janis Martin, and her first disk, 'Will You, Willyum' is already getting sales action in all fields," noted the May 12, 1956 issue of Billboard. From roughly 1956 through 1960, Martin recorded and released numerous cuts – from the suitably rocking original ...


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A Salute to Etta James

Friday, January 20: 12:05 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Etta James

Etta James was a pioneer. Through a career that spanned more than six decades, James' raw, unharnessed voice crossed genres, with Fifties hits such as "The Wallflower" and "Good Rockin' Daddy" cementing her role in the genesis of rock and roll alongside Chuck Berry, Ray Charles and Little Richard, and her soulful pop and blues explorations of the Sixties ranking with the works of Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. She continued to make her mark through 2011, with a string of award-winning, critically acclaimed releases that showcased her unique style.

James was born Jamesette Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938. Although brought up in the church singing in the gospel choir, she was drawn to rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, and by her mid-teens had formed a vocal trio named the Creolettes that worked up an answer song to Hank Ballard’s “Work With Me Annie” entitled “Roll With Me Henry.” The trio caught the attention of bandleader Johnny Otis, who arranged for the group to record “Roll With Me Henry” (retitled as “The Wallflower”) for Modern Records. Released with the group renamed the Peaches, "The Wallflower" topped the R&B chart for four weeks in 1955 ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: The Band

Wednesday, January 18: 10:30 a.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Robbie Robertson of the Band visits the Rock Hall and checks out the new Band exhibit.

Recently, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled a new Spotlight Exhibit devoted to the Band. Located in the Museum’s main gallery, the exhibit features an extremely rare electric guitar/mandolin that was manufactured by Gibson back in 1961. Band guitarist Robbie Robertson played the instrument when the group performed “The Weight” at the Last Waltz. The exhibit also includes a mandolin that was played by Levon Helm, the original handwritten lyric manuscript to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” the original artwork for the cover of the group’s Cahoots album, Martin Scorsese’s shooting script for The Last Waltz and a jacket that Robertson wore onstage during a 1971 New Year’s Eve concert in New York City. That concert was recorded and released on the album Rock of Ages. Robbie Robertson got to check the exhibit out when he made a visit to the Museum on January 17.

Watch Robertson playing the 1961 Gibson electric guitar/mandolin in The Last Waltz:


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "In The City"

Wednesday, January 18: 2:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Jam's "In The City" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The Jam rode to early popularity on the first wave of British punk. Yet the group, led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Weller, consciously distanced itself from its safety-pinned compatriots and unashamedly looked back to the Sixties for inspiration from the Who, 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees the Small Faces and vintage American soul music. At a time when notions of youth rebellion were much in vogue, "In The City" stands out as a desperate plea for understanding between the generations: In the city, there's a thousand things I want to say to you/But whenever I approach you, you make me look a fool/I wanna say, I wanna tell you/About the young ideas/But you turn them into fears. The song was the title track of the group's 1977 debut, a landmark punk recording that showcased the group's bravado and musicianship. Weller's gift for hooks, insightful lyrics, slashing Rickenbacker guitar riffs and the equally urgent playing of bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler propelled "In The City" to Number 40 in May 1977 and ignited the group's hot streak of 18 consecutive UK Top 40 hits.


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The Library and Archives Opens Today

Tuesday, January 17: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Andy Leach, director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Library and Archives

Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened the world’s largest library and archives devoted to rock and roll music. The Library and Archives is located in downtown Cleveland at the Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) Metropolitan Campus. The state-of-the-art structure is where library and archives professionals collect, preserve and provide access to primary and secondary resources relating to rock and roll history. A grand opening dedication will take place during the week of the 2012 Induction Ceremony on Monday, April 9. 


Upon opening, students and music scholars were eager to explore the 22,500-square-foot Library and Archives' repository of materials relating to the history of rock and roll, including vast collections of books, periodicals, and commercial audio and video recordings, as well as hundreds of archival collections containing personal papers, business records, photographs, posters, audio and video materials. In keeping with the mixed-media content available, 11 multimedia workstations allow users to view and listen to recorded material and to conduct online research. 

Visiting researchers now have access to never-before-seen materials, including the archival collections of some of popular music’s most significant figures, including Alan Freed, Clive Davis, Ahmet ...


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The Lost Photographs of Cleveland Deejay Tommy Edwards

Thursday, January 12: 4 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
Tommy Edwards (center) with the Everly Brothers

Many know that rock and roll was christened in Cleveland, Ohio, when DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase to describe the up-tempo R&B music he was beaming out on his popular radio show. Freed opened the doors for countless artists, and for years was the de facto king of rock and roll. But fewer know about the cadre of revolutionary Cleveland disc jockeys who shared the airwaves with Freed. Among them was Tommy Edwards. 

Edwards, who owned a prominent record store, pressed records and was a disc jockey at WERE 1300 AM, was instrumental in bringing Elvis Presley to Cleveland in 1955 for his first performance north of the Mason-Dixon line. Pat Boone headlined the concert, and the supporting bill included Bill Haley and the Comets, the Four Lads, Priscilla Wright and a largely unknown Presley. It was there that Edwards snapped the famous photograph of Presley with Haley, one of the few times the two met. The show was not held in a grand concert hall or big-ticket venue, but in a suburb of Cleveland at Brooklyn High School. The now mythical performance is rumored to have been captured in vivid Technicolor, and dubbed The Pied Piper ...


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