The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


February 2012 | Blog Archives

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Let's Talk About Sex"

Wednesday, February 15: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Salt-n-Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

On February 15, DJ Spinderella of Salt-n-Pepa will participate in an interview and lead a DJ demonstration performance as part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Ladies First: Celebrating African-American Women Who Rock  programming throughout Black History Month. The event starts at 7 pm, and will be viewable via live stream here.

Back in 1988, John McCready wrote in England's New Musical Express: "After Salt-n-Pepa, women in rap don't need to act like men in reverse. They have created a space of their own and the future is wide open." They were prophetic words as more than 25 years after their debut single, "The Show Stopper," Salt-n-Pepa rank among the most successful female groups in hip-hop history. Sandy "Salt" Denton, Cheryl "Pepa" James and DJ Spinderella (Dee Dee Roper) created an impressive string of best-sellers, capped by 1991's "Let's Talk About Sex" (Blacks' Magic) – an upbeat pop-rap song that expressed surprisingly frank and thoughtful opinions about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, media censorship of sexual imagery and the complex emotions bound up with the physical act (Let's tell it how it is, and how it could be / How it ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: Michael Angelo Batio

Monday, February 13: 3:11 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Michael Angelo Batio and his famous double-guitar in the Rock Hall's Right Here Right Now! exhibit

Chicago native Michael Angelo Batio is a guitar virtuoso, renowned in heavy metal circles and beyond for his fretwork dexterity, combining a signature blend of showmanship and technical precision. Although the Eighties and early Nineties found him on lead guitar in metal acts Holland and later Nitro, Batio's first experiences as a young musician came in front of a piano, and it was jazz guitar that first captured his interest – and soon highlighted his innate prowess. 

On February 10, 2012, Batio visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where his signature Dean Guitars "Jet" double-guitar is currently displayed as part of the Right Here, Right Now! exhibit. Here, the Rock Hall catches up with the virtuoso shredder to learn more about his influences and inspirations, and the origins of his unique guitar.

Rock Hall: When did you first start playing guitar and was it something that came naturally? 

Michael Angelo Batio: I started playing the guitar at age 10. I started playing the piano at age five. Music just came naturally to me. But, I always loved to practice and work to get better. I still love to practice and learn new things.  

RH: Who ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: Loretta Lynn

Friday, February 10: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Loretta Lynn's 1975 album Back To The Country contained the controversial track "The Pill."

For more than four decades, Loretta Lynn has delivered honest narratives with a country spirit on recordings from 1963's Loretta Lynn Sings to the Jack White–produced Van Lear Rose in 2004. On stage, she simultaneously projects a profound confidence and demure sensibility,  as her polished voice carried lyrics with a decidedly rock and roll swagger. She is the inspiration for countless musicians – male and female – who are empowered by her ability to capture the issues of the day in songs that opened the doors to candid reflections on taboo topics.

Lynn didn’t begin playing music until her mid-twenties, though she married Oliver Lynn, nicknamed “Mooney,” when she was 13. They had six children and were married nearly 50 years until his death in 1996. After years spent raising her family, Lynn began singing in various local bands, eventually attracting the attention of independent record label Zero Records. Within a year, Lynn signed to Decca, one of the biggest labels in the country. Taken under the wing of Patsy Cline, Lynn began to blossom into a major recording star. Including her duets with Conway Twitty, Lynn posted more than 50 Top 10 country hits between 1962 and ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Jim Dandy"

Wednesday, February 8: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
LaVern Baker's "Jim Dandy" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Employing more aliases than a con artist, 1991 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee LaVern Baker was born Delores Williams in 1929. The niece of blues great Memphis Minnie, she took the name of Little Miss Sharecropper for her first professional engagements in 1946. The early Fifties found her cutting tracks as Bea Baker; finally, joining the Todd Rhodes Orchestra in 1952, she began calling herself LaVern Baker. It wasn't until the next year, however, when she joined Atlantic Records, that this exuberant belter hit her stride. Working with master Atlantic producers Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, and backed by killer players like saxophonists Sam Taylor and King Curtis, guitarists Mickey Baker and Bucky Pizzarelli, drummer Connie Kay and pianist Hank Jones, she reeled off a string of sexy, high-spirited hits: "Tweedle Dee," "Bop-Ting-a-Ling," "I Cried A Tear" and her signature song "Jim Dandy." The latter tale of a gentleman given to helping ladies in trouble was penned by Lincoln Chase and given an energetic R&B punch by Baker in 1956. Initially released as a single, the song also appeared on Baker's second LP, LaVern Baker (1957). "Jim Dandy" was given a Southern rock re-working ...


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Today In Rock: Bob Marley Is Born

Monday, February 6: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bob Marley (2/6/45 – 5/11/81)

Born on February 6, 1945, Bob Marley was reggae's foremost practitioner and emissary, embodying its spirit and spreading its gospel to all corners of the globe. His extraordinary body of work embraces the stylistic spectrum of modern Jamaican music – from ska to rock steady to reggae – while carrying the music to another level as a social force with universal appeal. Few others changed the musical and cultural landscape as profoundly as he did. "He wanted everything at the same time and was everything at the same time: prophet, soul rebel, Rasta man, herbs man, wild man, a natural mystic man, ladies' man, island man, family man, Rita's man, soccer man, showman, shaman, human – Jamaican!" said U2 frontman Bono during his 1994 induction of Marley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

There’s no question that reggae is legitimately part of the larger culture of rock and roll, partaking of its full heritage of social forces and stylistic influences. In Marley’s own words, “Reggae music, soul music, rock music – every song is a sign.” His lyrics mixed religious mysticism with calls for political uprising, and Marley delivered them in a passionate, declamatory voice.

Marley was a ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: Joy Division / New Order

Friday, February 3: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Joy Division / New Order bassist Peter Hook in front of the Spotlight Exhibit with his bass

The members of Joy Division were post-punk visionaries. In contrast to the raw fury of the British punk scene that gave birth to the band, Joy Division created a more nuanced, expressive template for emphatically projecting discontent. Tortured lead singer Ian Curtis' introspective lyrics and melancholic worldview were reflected in the band's manic live performances and moody arrangements. This motif was captured in songs like "Disorder," "Transmission" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart." In addition to Curtis' vocals, Bernard Sumner's angular guitar work and Stephen Morris' frenetic drumming, the band's signature sound owed much to the bass of Peter Hook, who cultivated a lead-bass style that rejected the notion of a bassist's sole role as being backup. "I never did really play bass, because I always found it intensely annoying whenever some twat of a guitarist would turn around to you and say, 'could you play the root note?' said Hook during a 2010 interview at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "Luckily, I found a style."

That signature style involved playing lead lines high on the fretboard, creating melodies that were often mimicked in the vocals. “That came about early, when ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Head Like A Hole"

Wednesday, February 1: 12:26 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
"Head Like A Hole" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The first act to rise from the industrial-rock underground to mass commercial success, Nine Inch Nails established Cleveland-area native Trent Reznor – NIN's founder, front man, producer and sole permanent member – as a different kind of rock star. The propulsive, abrasive sound of his music perfectly suited his images of pain, alienation, betrayal and existential torment; his broodingly charismatic stage persona captivated a readily receptive audience that found common ground in his seething lyrics and pummeling beats. Unlike most of his industrial-music contemporaries, Reznor possesses a gift for melody and song structure that's reflected in "Head Like a Hole." The opening track of Nine Inch Nails' 1989 debut album Pretty Hate Machine, the song is as catchy as it is harsh, with a raw, insistent chorus that's hard to shake. It's no wonder that "Head Like a Hole" would serve as Nine Inch Nails' set closer for many years.

Listen to and learn the stories behind the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's unique app. This app features clips of more than 500 ...


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