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April 2012 | Blog Archives

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

Wednesday, April 25: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The Band recognized that while the soul of a song lived in its performance, its style was found in the arrangement. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is an exquisitely structured song:  acoustic guitar frames the verses, Levon Helm's drums roll into a moving chorus, and Garth Hudson adds faux harmonica with organ and a real trumpet. Recorded in 1969 and released on the Band's self-titled second album, the song's arrangement created a dramatic tableau for the poignant vocals. It's perhaps ironic that rock's most famous song about the Civil War was written by a Canadian, Robbie Roberston. It had to be sung, however, by the Band's only U.S. citizen: Arkansas native Helm. Helm is as vividly natural in this Southern role as when he played Loretta Lynn's father in the film Coal Miner's Daughter. The song's Virgil Caine meets his rebel's death, and he dies nobly. Joan Baez' cover of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," which appeared on her album Blessed Are…, reached Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971. The Band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ...


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Record Store Day 2012

Friday, April 20: 9:31 a.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
Get into the grooves on Record Store Day

Anyone remember when there were so many record stores that you could bounce from one to the other, either to find exactly what you wanted or perhaps get that one album a little bit cheaper? Well, I do. Growing up in the woods in Daphne, Alabama, there was no place nearby to purchase records, so when rock and roll took off, I had a dilemma. 

Fortunately, in the summer of 1957, my Mama started letting me ride the Greyhound bus to Mobile by myself to go to the movies once a week. I mowed lawns to finance these escapades, which required $5 for each trip. Expenditures were for the bus, the movies, lunch and – the pièce de résistance – my quest to find that one 45 RPM record that I couldn't live without. 

My destinations on these missions were primarily Rutz Music and Jessie French. These two prominent stores sold instruments and sheet music, but, more important, they each had a record section with listening booths. Do you know how long it might take to pick out one hit single, which cost 99 cents? About two delightful hours. 

I would cart untold numbers of LPs and 45s into ...


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Remembering Levon Helm

Thursday, April 19: 3:59 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Levon Helm (1940-2012)

The only non-Canadian member of the Band, Levon Helm was known for his deeply soulful, country-accented voice and his creative drumming style, which was highlighted on many of the Band's recordings, including "The Weight,” "Up on Cripple Creek,” "Ophelia" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Helm was born in Marvell, Arkansas, and grew up in Turkey Scratch, a hamlet west of Helena, Arkansas. He saw Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys when he was six and decided to become a musician. He began playing the guitar at the age of eight, and he took up drums shortly thereafter. After graduating from high school, Helm was invited to join rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins' band, the Hawks. Shortly after Helm joined the Hawks, the group moved to Toronto, Canada, where, in 1959, it signed with Roulette Records. In the early 1960s, Helm and Hawkins recruited an all-Canadian lineup of musicians: guitarist Robbie Robertson, bassist Rick Danko, pianist Richard Manuel and organist Garth Hudson. In 1963, the band parted ways with Hawkins and started touring under the name Levon and the Hawks and, later, as the Canadian Squires before finally changing back to the Hawks. Then, in 1965, Bob ...


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Remembering Dick Clark

Wednesday, April 18: 4:07 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Dick Clark (11.30.29 – 4.18.12)

1993 Hall of Fame Inductee and famed host of American Bandstand, Dick Clark, passed away on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. He was 82.

Affectionately known as “America’s oldest teenager,” Clark was significant in transforming the record business into an international industry. As host of American Bandstand, Clark provided many acts with the opportunity to reach a national audience via television, spreading the gospel of rock and roll to teenagers across the country.

Born Richard W. Clark in 1929, he entered the music business as a sales manager for an upstate New York radio station at age 17. In 1952, he began doing a radio show ("Caravan of Music") at WFIL in Philadelphia. The station’s TV affiliate had a teen-oriented show called Bandstand that was taken over in 1956 by Clark. He was such an affable, magnetic host that Bandstand was picked up for national distribution by ABC in 1957. With Clark as businessman, personality, music lover and host, American Bandstand catapulted to popularity and, in 1996, celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Although his demeanor was low-key and agreeable, Clark did not shrink when it came time to defend rock and roll. He stood up for the music when it ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: Jerry Garcia's "Rosebud" Guitar

Thursday, April 12: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Jerry Garcia's "Rosebud" electric guitar

Among Jerry Garcia's most well-known electric guitars is the unique instrument dubbed "Rosebud." Built for Garcia by luthier Doug Irwin, who had previously worked for Alembic guitars, it was the fourth guitar that Irwin had made for the Grateful Dead's charismatic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. 

While Irwin had named the guitar "the Saint," noting that the large inlay below the bridge was "a skeleton in the act of repelling death," Garcia changed the name. Nobody is entirely certain what inspired the "Rosebud" moniker, though Garcia's interest in film and the rose in the skeleton's mouth have been conjectured as possible explanations.

Garcia first played the guitar in 1989, and it was his main stage guitar until 1993. 

In this video, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story and details behind Garcia's famous electric guitar, which was featured in the Rock Hall's Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip exhibit, which closed on March 24, 2013.


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Remembering Jim Marshall

Thursday, April 5: 1:38 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Jim Marshall's gift to rock and roll

The world of rock and roll lost one of its loudest pioneers on Thursday, April 5, 2012, when Jim Marshall died at the age of 88. 

Born in 1923 in West London, Dr. Jim Marshall, OBE, led his namesake amplifier company for the past 50 years, quite literally channeling the sound of rock and roll guitar. Dubbed "the Father of Loud," Marshall holds a singular place in the pantheon of innovators who developed the instruments and tools that provided the earliest rock and roll players the mechanisms needed to shape a once nascent genre. Along with Leo Fender, Seth Lover and Les Paul, Marshall was among the great patriarchs of the rock and roll sound we've grown to appreciate, cheer, love, emulate and worship.

Marshall used earnings from his days as a drum instructor to open a music shop in the early 1960s, where, as the story goes, his customers included such seminal guitarists as the Who's Pete Townshend. He and other budding guitarists in London would plant the seed of an idea for a guitar amplifier that undercut its American counterparts in price and delivered a signature tone not found in the market.

Whereas rival Fender ...


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Concert Radar: Bootsy Collins

Tuesday, April 3: 12:20 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
Bootsy Collins

This weekend, on Friday, April 6, don't miss a uniquely funky opportunity as 1997 Hall of Fame Inductee Bootsy Collins plays an intimate show at one of Cleveland's great music venues, the Beachland Ballroom. This is the first of many musical performances during the Rock Hall's 11 days of events surrounding this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions Ceremony on Saturday, April 14. 

The charismatic Collins – easily identified by his singular fashion sense: star-shaped glasses, colorful suits and top hats, and  glittery "space bass" – was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, alongside his mentor George Clinton (who'll headline the Free Concert for Cleveland with Kid Cudi and Kids These Days at the Q.)

Over the years, the bassist, singer, songwriter and Cincinnati, Ohio, native has released more than a dozen albums, including 2011's Tha Funk Capital Of The World, a deeply grooving history of funk as only Collins and his collaborators could curate. The musicians joining Collins at the Beachland Ballroom include P-Funk alumni and fellow Hall of Famers drummer extraordinaire Frankie "Kash" Waddy and Bernie Worrell, long recognized as a keyboard wizard ...


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10 Essential Small Faces/Faces Songs

Monday, April 2: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Small Faces/Faces are 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

The Small Faces’ career occurred in two distinct stages that saw a partial realignment in personnel and pronounced shift in style. They began as the Small Faces, a band of mod rockers who embraced soul and psychedelia in the Sixties. Then they became the Faces – though their first release was credited to the "Small Faces" – a rollicking band of roots rockers who took the Seventies by storm. The change occurred in late 1969, when Steve Marriott left the Faces to form Humble Pie and was replaced by Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.

With the British Invasion in full swing, the Small Faces formed in 1965. Much like the Who, they were a band of sharp-dressed, soul music-loving mods. Marriott's electrifying voice lent its energy to a string of high-energy singles. Their turn to psychedelia resulted in the hit “Itchycoo Park” and the concept album Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake.

The Faces played a rowdy, disheveled brand of rock that could make a large arena seem like a corner bar. With Stewart’s raspy vocals and the loose yet muscular playing of Wood, keyboardist Ian McLagan, bassist and vocalist Ronnie Lane and drummer Kenny Jones, they rivaled the Rolling Stones ...


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