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Remembering Adam Yauch

Friday, May 4: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Adam Yauch aka MCA (8.5.1964 – 5.4.2012)

Adam Yauch, better known to fans of the Beastie Boys as MCA, passed away on Friday, May 4, 2012, after a battle with cancer that began in 2009. He was 47.

Born on August 5, 1964, the vocalist and bassist was raised in New York City, a fertile backdrop that informed the street-smart attitude and urban swagger of the Beastie Boys. Formed as a hardcore quartet in 1981 with Yauch and Michael Diamond aka Mike D, drummer Kate Schellenbach and guitarist John Berry, this earliest incarnation of the Beastie Boys played its first gig at Yauch's 17th birthday party. This was the same lineup that recorded the group's debut eight-song EP, Polly Wog Stew, which included the hardcore manifesto "Beastie Boys." When Berry left the group, Adam Horowitz aka ADROCK was recruited and the newly formed band cut a 12-inch single for "Cooky Puss"/"Beastie Revolution." When Schellenbach left the group (later joining Luscious Jackson), the three-man posse of MCs took shape.

The Beastie Boys brashly announced themselves to the world with the full-length Licensed to Ill (1986), produced by Rick Rubin. A milestone rap-rock release, it contained a feisty statement of purpose (“The New Style”) and ...


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10 Essential Donovan Songs

Monday, April 2: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Donovan is a 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee

Donovan was a key figure in the creative explosion of the mid Sixties, fusing the folk boom with the experimentation and whimsy of the love generation. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and grew up in England. Early on, he mastered a sizable repertoire of folk and blues songs and had a hit at 18 with his first single, “Catch the Wind.” He soon thereafter made an artistic breakthrough with a unique sound and style that fused folk, blues, jazz, classical, Latin and Indian elements. Donovan’s fruitful union with producer Mickie Most and arranger John Cameron yielded much stylistically far-ranging work during the Sixties.

His biggest year was 1966, when “Sunshine Superman” and “Mellow Yellow” became major hits, reaching Number One and Two, respectively. The ambitious double album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden (1968) offered an album of songs for adults (Wear Your Love Like Heaven) and another for kids (For Little Ones), which were released separately in the United States.

Donovan continued to pursue his idiosyncratic, pacifist and itinerant outlook in the Seventies with such releases as Open Road, Cosmic Wheels and 7-Tease. Themes of love, compassion and understanding run throughout Donovan’s work ...


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10 Essential Laura Nyro Songs

Monday, April 2: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Laura Nyro is a 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee

Laura Nyro was among the most gifted singer-songwriters of the Sixties and Seventies, and one of the first female singer-songwriters who didn’t come from the folk-music world. Her music reflected a combination of spirituality and street smarts. Bursting with talent, she possessed a soulful soprano, a commanding touch on the piano, and an arsenal of songs that drew from R&B, soul, gospel, jazz, Brill Building pop and Broadway show tunes. Nyro was not easily pigeonholed and almost too unconventional for mainstream tastes. However, she had a fanatical cult following, and many of her songs became popular in the hands of others. Decades later, such radically original female artists as Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Suzanne Vega evinced some of Nyro’s trailblazing sorcery, while male performers, including Elton John and Todd Rundgren, have also credited Nyro as an influence.

Nyro was raised in New York City, where she heard and studied all kinds of music. She was only 19 when More Than a New Discovery, her debut album, was released in 1967. Later that year, aspiring manager David Geffen saw Nyro perform at the Monterey Pop Festival and got her signed to Columbia Records. She released a ...


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10 Essential Beastie Boys Songs

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

Taking influences from hardcore and hip hop, the Beastie Boys mixed and mashed musical styles to deliver infectious grooves and wickedly funny lyrics. Like fellow New Yorkers Run-D.M.C., they disregarded the color line dividing rock and rap in the Eighties. The roots of the Beastie Boys date back to 1981, with the definitive trio configuration of ADROCK (Adam Horovitz), MCA (Adam Yauch) and Mike D (Michael Diamond) coalescing at mid-decade. After a series of 12-inch records, the Beastie Boys brashly announced themselves to the world with the full-length Licensed to Ill (1986). While it typecast the Beastie Boys as beer-swilling party animals, the group exploded any notions of one-dimensionality with its ambitious followup, Paul’s Boutique (1989). On Check Your Head (1992) and Ill Communication (1994), the Beastie Boys – who are capable instrumentalists – performed most of the music while integrating an array of samples, beats and witty wordplay into an ever-intriguing sonic smorgasbord.

Subsequently, the Beastie Boys have issued three full-length albums of words and music – Hello Nasty (1998), To the 5 Boroughs (2004) and Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011) – along with a few EPs and 2007’s all-instrumental The Mix-Up. With each release, the Beastie ...


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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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10 Essential Guns N' Roses Songs

Monday, April 2: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Guns N' Roses are 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

The 1987 release of Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was a pivotal moment in rock history. With Guns N' Roses – vocalist Axl Rose, guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler – rock music rediscovered its edge, rage and sense of danger. Guns N' Roses rank alongside a handful of hard-rock bands with punk-rock attitudes – including the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and AC/DC - that shook and shocked the world.

Guns N' Roses formed in Los Angeles in 1985 and Appetite for Destruction, which was released on Geffen Records two years later, would ultimately enjoy a 147-week run on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1991, Guns N' Roses released two volumes of Use Your Illusion on the same day. It was a remarkable outpouring of music, totaling 30 tracks on two CDs. Use Your Illusion I and II each sold 7 million copies and reached Number Two and Number One, respectively. By 1997 only Axl Rose remained from the original Guns N' Roses. However, a rather stable lineup has existed under his leadership since the late Nineties and released Chinese Democracy in 2008.

Here, the Rock Hall suggests 10 essential Guns N' Roses ...


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10 Essential Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs

Monday, April 2: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

The Red Hot Chili Peppers merged the sounds and sensibilities of punk, funk and hip-hop to become an iconic and hugely popular group. Their music and lifestyles reflect the Southern California milieu in which they were born. They have been a band given to extremes, from thrashy, funky noise and personal excess to sunnier music and healthier living.

They formed in Los Angeles in 1983 as a foursome with Anthony Kiedis, Michael "Flea" Balzary, Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons. The last two left before the recording of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' self-titled 1984 debut and were replaced by drummer Cliff Martinez and guitarist Jack Sherman. Slovak returned for Freaky Styley (produced by George Clinton), and Irons rejoined for 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. After Slovak's 1988 death by heroin overdose, guitarist John Frusciante was recruited, and drummer Chad Smith replaced Irons.

This was the lineup that recorded the classic albums Mother's Milk (1989), Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991), Californication (1999), By the Way (2002) and Stadium Arcadium (2006). Frusciante took a hiatus from 1993-1997 and left for good in 2009, replaced by Josh Klinghoffer, who'd been the band's auxiliary tour guitarist. The ...


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Bruce Springsteen Exhibit Moves to the Streets of Philadelphia

Monday, February 20: 1 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum VP of exhibitions and curatorial Jim Henke talks Springsteen

From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen opened at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this past weekend. The Rock Hall curated the exhibit, and it was the major temporary exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum from April 2009 to February 2011.

The Springsteen exhibit was not originally intended to travel, but after representatives from the Constitution Center came to Cleveland to see it, they thought it would be a great fit for their museum. We had several discussions with them, and we worked with Springsteen’s management to see whether moving it was a possibility. In the end, we all agreed that it made sense to take the exhibit to the Constitution Center. After all, Springsteen’s roots go back to the Jersey Shore, an area not that far from Philadelphia. Moreover, Springsteen is a truly American musician and songwriter, someone who has given voice to the restlessness, hopes and dreams of ordinary Americans. Millions of listeners have found their experience of the American dream reflected in his songs about the lonely, the lost, the unemployed, immigrants and military veterans. The City of Brotherly Love was ...


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