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Video: Interview with Ronnie Hawkins

Tuesday, January 15: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins' backstage interview with the Rock Hall

For more than half a century, Ronnie Hawkins – known variously as "Mr. Dynamo," "Sir Ronnie," "Rompin' Ronnie" and "The Hawk" – has been energizing crowds with his signature rockabilly swagger. Born in Huntsville, Arkansas, in January 1935, Hawkins would find his way to the Grange club in Hamilton, Ontario, on the recommendation of Conway Twitty. He never left, adopting Canada as his own and becoming a permanent resident in 1964. 

In addition to hits that included "Hey, Bo Diddley," "Marylou" and his cheeky cover of Chuck Berry's "30 Days" (renamed "Forty Days"), Hawkins gained recognition for recruiting and grooming outstanding Canadian talent to play in his band, the Hawks. The rotating cast of musicians over the years included Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Arkansan drummer Levon Helm – the quintet that would leave the Hawks to back Bob Dylan before striking out on their own as the Band. Other incarnations of the Hawks included the members of Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band, and another Ronnie Lane and the Disciples. John Lennon and Yoko Ono traveled to Hawkins' Ontario farm to plan a festival during the couple's peace crusade. In 1992, Hawkins was hired to ...

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Chuck Berry at the Rock Hall's Library and Archives

Tuesday, November 6: 5:21 p.m.
Posted by Andy Leach
Chuck Berry and his wife Themetta visit the Rock Hall's Library and Archives on October 27, 2012

On Saturday, October 27, we were truly honored when Hall of Fame Inductee and 2012 American Music Masters honoree Chuck Berry – along with his family, band members, and friends – paid a visit to the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives. After I gave them a brief overview of the Library and Archives and a quick tour of our Library Reading Room, Berry and his group spent time viewing the materials in our Chuck Berry archival exhibit, which was curated by our head archivist Jennie Thomas. Next, the Rock Hall's curatorial director Howard Kramer and I led the group into our Archives Reading Room, where I had pulled out a number of materials from our collections in advance of the group’s visit.

These materials included posters from 1950s rock and roll shows featuring Berry himself, as well as legendary performers such as Big Joe Turner, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James; photographs of Louis Jordan from various archival collections; recording session logs from the Milt Gabler Papers; our collection of Big Joe Turner’s personal papers, which includes letters, passports and photographs; 78-rpm records of the Nat King Cole Trio and the Benny Goodman Sextet (the latter featuring one ...

continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Library and Archives, Education, Exhibit

Interview with Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead

Saturday, October 27: 9 a.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame interview with Lemmy Kilmister Tribute Concert salute to Chuck Berry

Over four decades, Motörhead frontman Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister has registered an immeasurable impact on music history. He remains the living embodiment of the rock and roll lifestyle. Kilmister was born in England and got hooked on rock and roll at a young age. After playing guitar in many bands as a teenager, he moved to London in 1967 and worked as a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1971, he joined the band Hawkwind and switched to bass guitar, recording several classic albums including Space Ritual and Hall of the Mountain Grill. In 1975, he formed the groundbreaking metal band, Motörhead. They played with speed and volume unheard before in rock and roll. On albums like Bomber from 1979, and 1980's Ace of Spades, they established a model for what became thrash metal. Still, Kilmister has always kept classic first-generation rock and roll at the heart of his sound. In his work with rockabilly band the Head Cat, he has explored his rock and roll roots in fantastic versions of songs by Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Motörhead is still going strong, relasing The World is Yours in 2010 and touring in ...

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Interview with Singer-Songwriter JD McPherson

Friday, October 26: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
JD McPherson will perform at the 2012 American Music Masters concert honoring to Chuck Berry

The work of visual artist, singer-songwriter, guitarist and Oklahoma-native JD McPherson channels his eclectic interests and creative gusto in a singular musical collage that takes a reverence for the past and wraps it in a decidedly forward-thinking motif. The art teacher turned rocker writes songs that reference 40s R&B and the sounds of 50s American rock and roll, pulling from the aesthetic of such record labels as Specialty, Vee-Jay and Del-Fi. Having played in a punk outfit and embracing a penchant for hip-hop, McPherson's retro melange bridges the divide among ostensibly disparate artists, from Ruth Brown to the Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Presley to the Smiths, Jackie Wilson to Stiff Little Fingers. In 2010, McPherson released his solo debut, Signs & Signifiers, produced by Jimmy Sutton. Originally released on indie imprint Hi-Style Records, the album was re-released to a wider audience on Rounder Records in 2012. "Although I grew up wanting to be a visual artist, I'll tell you what: the most satisfaction I've ever had as an artist is right now," says McPherson. "Because as much as I love artists like Joseph Beuys, I love David Bowie and Little Richard more."

In this interview, JD McPherson ...

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Interview with Musician David Johansen

Friday, October 26: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Johansen will perform at the 2012 American Music Masters concert honoring to Chuck Berry

Born in Staten Island, David Johansen logged some of his earliest stage experiences while singing in rock and roll dance bands during his high school years, yet his first exposure to the music of Chuck Berry – the Rock Hall's 2012 American Music Masters honoree – came at an early age. "My older brother had a lot of great records, so I guess I was about six when I first heard him," recalled Johansen by email days before the Chuck Berry tribute concert where he'll be performing. "It sounded to me the way things were supposed to be: fun and swinging."

Johansen moved to the East Village after graduating high school, performing with Charles Ludlum's Ridiculous Theater as a spear carrier before joining the fledgling New York Dolls. The Dolls cut two iconic rock and roll records, New York Dolls and Too Much, Too Soon, before disbanding in the mid-seventies. Johansen went on to record six highly acclaimed albums and toured incessantly for the next 10 years. It was during this period, Johansen began singing jump blues, calypso and “Pre-Hayes code rock and roll” under the name Buster Poindexter, in a small saloon in his Gramercy Park neighborhood ...

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Interview with Guitarist Joe Bonamassa

Wednesday, October 24: 10:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Guitarist Joe Bonamassa will perform live at the 2012 AMM tribute concert honoring Chuck Berry

Guitarist Joe Bonamassa is a charismatic blues-rock star and singer-songwriter of stylistic depth and emotional resonance. A child prodigy, Bonamassa caught B.B. King’s ear at the age of 10. After hearing him play for the first time, King said: “This kid's potential is unbelievable. He hasn't even begun to scratch the surface. He's one of a kind.” By age 12, Bonamassa was opening shows for the blues icon and went on to tour with artists such as Buddy Guy, Foreigner, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker and Gregg Allman. Bonamassa’s recording career began in the early ’90s with Bloodline, a hard-charging blues-rock group also featuring Robby Krieger’s son, Waylon, and Miles Davis’ son Erin. His 2000 solo debut, A New Day Yesterday, was produced by 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Tom Dowd.

Joe Bonamassa interview and guitar soloHe was named Billboard’s Number One Blues Artist in 2010 based on the charting success of Black Rock, the Number Two Billboard Blues Album of 2010, and 2009’s Ballad of John Henry, which was Number Nine. In June 2010, he played the main stage at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago and in ...

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Rare Performances: Chuck Berry's 1986 Hall of Fame Induction Jam Session

Monday, October 22: 3 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Chuck Berry led an all-star live jam session when he was inducted into the RRHOF in 1986

“To me, Chuck Berry always was the epitome of rhythm and blues playing, rock and roll playing. It was beautiful, effortless, and his timing was perfection. He is rhythm supreme.” – Keith Richards

The very first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony got under way on January 23, 1986, in New York City, with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones ripping off his tuxedo jacket, revealing a flashy leopard-print jacket underneath, in true rock and roll style. That inaugural evening, Richards – Chuck Berry’s biggest fan – inducted his long-time idol, noting, “…this is the gentleman who started it all!” The ceremony itself was a melting pot of all that created rock and roll – country, gospel, the blues, rockabilly and rhythm & blues – with several of the initial inductees on stage, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who stood beside Lewis’ piano bopping and clapping his hands, and Chuck Berry.

With a who's who of rock and roll pioneers on the same stage as contemporary legends and Berry acting as bandleader, encouraging his progenies, all-star jams ensued. Inductees Keith Richards (1989), John Fogerty (1993), Neil Young (1995), Billy Joel (1999) and Steve Winwood (2004) make ...

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Chuck Berry and Keith Richards Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll

Monday, October 22: 2:05 p.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan
Chuck Berry and Keith Richards trade licks in "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll"

The concert held on October 16, 1986, to celebrate Chuck Berry's 60th birthday and later released as the rock documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, directed by Taylor Hackford, featured a spellbinding lineup of musicians, including Eric Clapton, Etta James, original Berry keys man and blues-piano virtuoso Johnnie Johnson, sax extraordinaire Bobby Keys and Julian Lennon. It was a powerful show of reverence for rock and roll's poet laureate, a tribute as could only be orchestrated by the film's musical director and Berry fan: Keith Richards.

In his 2010 autobiography, Life, Richards shared a letter from April 1962 to his aunt Patty that recounts his introduction to Mick Jagger, writing: "You know I was keen on Chuck Berry and I thought I was the only fan for miles but one mornin' on Dartford Stn. … I was holding one of Chuck's records when a guy I knew at primary school 7-11 yrs [sic] y'know came up to me. He's got every record Chuck Berry ever made and all his mates have too, they are all rhythm and blues fans, real R&B I mean… he is called Mick Jagger." The letter goes on to explain ...

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