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June 2012 | Blog Archives

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Peggy Sue"

Friday, June 29: 12:29 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Buddy Holly and the Crickets' "Peggy Sue" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

On Monday, July 1, 1957, Buddy Holly and the Crickets set up their equipment in Clovis, New Mexico, at the Norman Petty Recording Studio to lay down the songs “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy,” “Listen to Me” and “I’m Gonna Love You Too.” During the session, they unwittingly had a special guest – a real cricket had found its way into the echo chamber and ended up on two of the songs, “Listen to Me” and “I’m Gonna Love You Too.” All attempts at trapping the serendipitous cricket had failed, so they kept the tape rolling.

Holly had brought a song called “Cindy Lou” to Clovis to record. This song eventually became the hit “Peggy Sue.” Originally, Holly composed the song using the name “Cindy,” after his sister Pat’s small daughter; and “Lou,” after Pat’s middle name. “Cindy Lou” was already being featured in the Cricket’s stage set, played to a Latin beat. When the Crickets began rehearsal for the songs, drummer J.I. Allison warmed up with a hard, pounding double paradiddle beat with no cymbals on his snare drum. Holly liked the sound and suggested that they use it on “Cindy Lou” and the ...


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Rare Performances: Neil Young Live in 1995

Wednesday, June 27: 2:14 p.m.
Neil Young performed "Act of Love" and "F*!#in' Up" at the 1995 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

On January 12, 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its 10th annual induction ceremony in New York City. Among the inductees that year, along with Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa and others, was Neil Young, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Pearl Jam lead singer, Eddie Vedder. Young’s performances that night included the epic “Act of Love” from his album Mirror Ball, which would be released in June 1995. After performing “Act of Love” with members of his touring band, Young was joined onstage by Pearl Jam to perform "F*!#in' Up,” from his 1990 album Ragged Glory. It was especially fitting that Young, who has been called “the Godfather of Grunge,” would invite the Seattle band to perform with him at his induction.

Pearl Jam and Neil Young had been collaborating since 1992, when the grunge band  and “the Godfather” played separately at a Bob Dylan tribute at Madison Square Garden. Pearl Jam was invited to play at Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit concert in November of that year. Pearl Jam had long been Neil Young fans, frequently using Young’s “Rockin In the Free World” to close ...


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Austin City Limits Performance Collection Comes to Library and Archives

Thursday, June 21: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Neil Young is among the hundreds of artists who've performed live on Austin City Limits

Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced a partnership with KLRU-TV, Austin PBS to make nearly 40 years of Austin City Limits performances available to the public for the first time. The announcement came from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum president and CEO Terry Stewart and Austin City Limits executive producer Terry Lickona, who shared the mic at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Landmark KLRU Studio 6A, where Austin City Limits had been filmed for 36 years (since 2011, it has broadcast from the ACL Live at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin). “Austin City Limits uniquely represents more than three decades of some of modern music’s most significant artists and their performances — from iconic musicians to cutting-edge talent,” said Stewart. “It’s one of the most significant archives that documents the American culture and Austin City Limits shares our mission of celebrating and interpreting popular music’s impact on our world.”

The unprecedented collection features more than 800 performances from 1975 to 2012, including memorable shows from dozens of Hall of Fame inductees, including Ruth Brown, Jackson Browne, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Dr. John, Etta James, B.B ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Mr. Tambourine Man"

Wednesday, June 20: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Folk rock didn't necessarily begin here. Four months before the Byrds recorded "Mr. Tambourine Man," the Animals were topping the pop charts with "The House of the Rising Sun." But this combination of song and performance epitomized the genre, with the happy effect of giving Bob Dylan – as songwriter, at least – a Number One hit, peaking on Billboard's Hot 100 on the week of June 26, 1965. The Byrds' debut gave them a powerful lift-off. The only Byrd playing on it, though, was electric 12-string guitarist Jim (later Roger) McGuinn. Producer Terry Melcher, doubtful of the new band's abilities, hired top session musicians (including Leon Russell) to back up the vocals of McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark. Perhaps Melcher had heard the group's originally private 1964 recording of the tune, which sounds like an arrangement for a music box. The Byrds recorded and released "Mr. Tambourine Man" neck and neck with Dylan's own (album-only) acoustic version. "We didn't really like [the song] or even understand it at the time," bassist Chris Hillman later admitted; their manager had pushed it on them. Drenched in the 12-string jangle of McGuinn's Rickenbacker guitar and ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: John Lennon's 1963 Gretsch 6120

Friday, June 15: 1 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
John Lennon's 1963 Gretsch 6120

the Beatles tribute weekend at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in ClevelandAfter the Beatles achieved success, they could afford the kind of instruments they had only dreamed about as struggling musicians. Although Gretsch guitars were primarily associated with George Harrison, John Lennon acquired this particular guitar in 1966. He used it during the recording of "Paperback Writer" in April of that year. 

In this video, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer discusses the guitar and the unique circumstances that brought it to the Rock Hall, where it is on display as part of the Museum's Beatles exhibit.

WATCH: Spotlight Exhibit: John Lennon's 1963 Gretsch 6120


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The Beatles Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Thursday, June 14: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988

the Beatles tribute weekend at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland,OhioThe arrival of the Beatles triggered a musical revolution in the Sixties. Emerging from Liverpool, England, the Fab Four's sound took root in Europe, with songs like "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" touching an audience who were looking for something to take them from the doldrums into which rock and roll had fallen. "In England, during  those very early days, just while the Beatles were recording their first songs, it was a real wasteland – England had nothing to really offer as far as pop music was concerned," said the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger when he inducted the Beatles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.  "At that point, the Stones were playing in these little clubs in London, doing Chuck Berry songs and blues and things, and we loved doing that. And we were a pretty scruffy lot, and we thought we were totally unique – animals – I mean there was no one like us. And then we heard there was a group from Liverpool."

The Beatles’ music - with its simultaneous refinement (crisp harmonies, solid musicianship, canny pop instincts) and abandon (energetic singing and playing, much screaming and shaking of mop-topped locks) – ignited the ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: the Beatles – "Strawberry Fields Forever"

Wednesday, June 13: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

the Beatles exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in ClevelandA very different Beatles had emerged by the genesis of "Strawberry Fields Forever." The Fab Four – George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – had traded much of the mop–topped gaiety and matching-suit panache for a more bohemian consciousness. They were no longer married to the stage, but rather exploring the boundaries of studio recording, indulging creative whims as producer George Martin helped realize the band's ambitious visions. Such musical acumen came to fruition with "Strawberry Fields Forever," a song born of fantast Lennon. "Of all the Beatles recordings, 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is known for being among the most complicated and difficult to record," noted writer Mark Lewisohn in The Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970

Despite esoteric lyrics about a childhood haunt of Lennon's (No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low / That is you can't you know tune in but it's all right) and a beguiling arrangement, "Strawberry Fields" remains a singular pop song. It was the first song recorded for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band when sessions began on November 24, 1966, following a months-long period ...


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How Billy Preston Helped the Beatles "Get Back"

Monday, June 11: 2 p.m.
"Fifth Beatle" Billy Preston recorded and performed with the Beatles and helped keep them together.

Billy Preston has the distinction of being the only musician besides the band members to be credited on a Beatles record. Preston’s status as “the Fifth Beatle” came about only because “the Third Beatle” – George Harrison – had, for all intents and purposes quit the band and would only return to the fold if certain criteria were met. It was January 1969, just 11 weeks after the contentious and seemingly interminable The Beatles (The White Album) recording sessions had ground to a close. During the sessions, an atmosphere of outright hostility had developed between the band members. Beatles archivist Mark Lewishon describes the root causes of that hostility as the perception that Yoko Ono was encroaching on the band’s sanctity, Paul McCartney's “bossing” the group around and allegedly “preaching” to Harrison about his playing. At one point during the sessions, Ringo Starr walked out and came very close to completely quitting the band.  After the stressful  White Album sessions, “As (the Beatles’) natural motivating force,” says Lewishon, “Paul could think of only one solution: to have them ‘get back’ to what had united them best before inconceivable fame and fortune had clouded the issue – live performance.”

McCartney ...


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