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Spotlight Exhibit :: Blog

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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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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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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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: 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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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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Spotlight Exhibit: the Dells' Apollo Theater Battle of the Groups Trophy

Monday, July 2: 3:06 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
The Dells

The Dells are one of the longest-lived rhythm & blues vocal groups. Their origins date back to 1952, and the group’s original lineup – lead tenor Johnny Funches, second tenor Verne Allison, lead baritone Marvin Junior, baritone Michael “Mickey” McGill and bass Chuck Barksdale – changed only when John E. Carter replaced Funches in 1959. Between 1956 and 1992, the Dells racked up an astonishing 46 R&B hits. Eight of those made the pop Top 40, including their signature songs, “Stay in My Corner” and “Oh, What a Nite.” They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

In this clip, curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story behind the Dells and their onstage battle against 1996 Hall of Fame inductees Gladys Knights and the Pips at the Apollo Theater in New York City. The Dells are featured in a special exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. 


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Spotlight Exhibit: Bonnie Raitt's Jacket and Fender Stratocaster

Monday, August 6: 12 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Bonnie Raitt's signature Fender Stratocaster

From her self-titled debut album in 1971, Bonnie Raitt has established herself as a virtuoso blues musician who sings blues with gritty passion and plays slide guitar with authority, as if the genre’s fundamentals had been etched in her soul. With mentors that included Sippie Wallace, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House, Raitt has demonstrated a studied reverence for old-school country-blues tempered with a contemporary outlook and willingness to experiment. She recorded eight albums for Warner Bros. Records from 1971 to 1986, progressively moving from straight blues into more pop-oriented areas without losing sight of her roots. Raitt's move to Capitol Records was followed by her 1989 breakthrough Nick of Time, which netted four Grammy Awards in 1990 and prompted her to note: “It means so much for the kind of music that we do. It means that those of us who do rhythm & blues are going to get a chance again.”

In this clip, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum VP of exhibitions and curatorial Jim Henke shares the story behind the development and impact of Bonnie Raitt's signature Fender Stratocaster and the jacket she was wearing on one of the most rewarding ...


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