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Today in Rock: John Lennon is Born

Friday, October 7: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
John Lennon (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980)

As the most daring and outspoken of the four Beatles, John Lennon helped shape the agenda of the Sixties - socially and politically, no less than musically. As a solo artist, he made music that alternately disturbed and soothed, provoked and sought community. As a human being, he served as an exemplar of honesty in his art and life. Lennon didn’t invent rock and roll, nor did he embody it as toweringly as figures like Elvis Presley and Little Richard, but he did more than anyone else to shake it up, move it forward and instill it with a conscience. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

As Jann Wenner wrote in the foreword to a collection of writings entitled The Ballad of John and Yoko, “Of the many things that will be long remembered about John Lennon - his genius as a musician and singer, his wit and literary swiftness, his social intuition and leadership - among the most haunting was the stark, unembarrassed commitment of his life, his work and his undernourished frame to truth, to peace and to humanity.”

Born on October 9, 1940, during the Nazi bombing of Britain, Lennon was given ...


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Memorializing Les Paul

Tuesday, September 13: 1:51 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Les Paul memorial in Waukesha, Wisconsin

This past Saturday, I was fortunate to be in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to take part in the dedication of a memorial to Hall of Fame inductee Les Paul. The memorial is in Prairie Home Cemetery, where the legendary guitarist is buried. The event was attended by Les’ family and friends, including his son Russ. Michael Braunstein, Les’ longtime manager and the executive director of the Les Paul Foundation, served as the emcee of the event. Others in attendance included Lou Pallo, who played guitar in the Les Paul Trio for almost 30 years, Henry Juszkiewicz, the chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar, and Ron Sturm, the owner of the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, where Les played shows every Monday night, from 1995 until his death in 2009.

All of the speakers heaped tons of praise on Les. His son said, “He was a person who hit a lot of hearts,” and that was clear from the commentaries. Lou Pallo said: “He was a genius. He was a great, great, great musician.” Gibson’s Juszkiewicz also called Les a “genius,” and he talked about his inventiveness. Speaking about the house where Les lived in New Jersey, the Gibson CEO ...


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Riding With The Man in Black

Monday, September 12: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Johnny Cash (2/26/1932 - 9/12/2003)

With a genre-spanning catalog that straddles the country, folk and rockabilly canon, and more than 400 songs that tapped into a homespun narrative about the lives of coal miners, sharecroppers, Native Americans, prisoners, cowboys, renegades and family men, Johnny Cash – "the man in black" – is a country music legend and a voice beloved by millions. Cash's rugged sensibility has influenced generations: From his 1956 two-sided hit "So Doggone Lonesome"/"Folsom Prison Blues" (Number Four on the Billboard charts) to 1969's "A Boy Named Sue" from Johnny Cash at San Quentin (Number Two on the charts); to his critically acclaimed American Recordings (produced by Rick Rubin and released in 1994) to 2002's American IV: The Man Comes Around, featuring a stirring cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." Cash, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, passed away a year after American IV's release, on September 12, 2003 at the age of 71.

Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, on February 26, 1932, amid the trying environment of the Great Depression. As a child, his humble beginnings found him working in the cotton fields of Dyess, Arkansas, where his family had moved ...


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Celebrating the Life of Otis Redding

Friday, September 9: 1 p.m.
Otis Redding

Otis Redding would have celebrated his 70th birthday today, so we're delighted that the opening of the Rock Hall’s Otis Redding exhibit coincides with and commemorates his birth and remarkable life. The spotlight exhibit allows Redding's life and legacy to shine through with a collection of treasured personal effects and career mementos.

Otis Redding’s life and music embodied the essence of soul. He was a self-professed country boy from Macon, Georgia, and he had it all: a big, gravelly voice, an immense gift for songwriting and a generous, hardworking disposition. There was earthiness and candor in his every performance, be it slow, soulful ballads like “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Try a Little Tenderness” or fast-paced numbers like “Respect” and “I Can’t Turn You Loose.” Producer Jerry Wexler said of Redding’s performances, “You could feel this plea coming from him.” Bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn of Booker T. and the MG’s recalled: “Otis would come in, and boy, he’d just bring everybody up. ‘Cause you knew something was gonna be different. When Otis was there, it was just revitalization of the whole thing. You wanted to play with Otis. He ...


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Elton John's World of Rock

Thursday, September 8: 12:01 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Sir Elton John

Tonight, Elton John's 2011 World Tour stops in Cleveland, Ohio, at Blossom Music Center, one of more than 100 dates that will take the charismatic, chart-topping musician to North and South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. It's a suitably international schedule for one of the most successful musical artists of the modern era, one whose popularity ranks with – and longevity surpasses – Elvis Presley among rock and rollers. In 1992, he broke Presley’s record for the most consecutive years of Top 40 hits on Billboard’s singles chart, having been a continual presence in every year since “Your Song” debuted in December 1970.

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, Elton John and longtime lyricist and partner Bernie Taupin came to identify and shape the mood of the '70s from its inception. During 1971 alone, four new Elton John albums made their appearance on Billboard’s album chart: the western-themed Tumbleweed Connection; the soundtrack to an obscure film, Friends; the live album 11-17-70, recorded on that date at a New York radio station’s studio; and Madman Across the Water, which contained the favorites “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon” and the brooding title track. Honky Chateau, which appeared in ...


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Today in Rock: Remembering Keith Moon

Wednesday, September 7: 5:03 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Who: (l-r) Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle

In the pantheon of rock icons, few lived harder and played more dynamically than Keith Moon, among the greatest rock and roll drummers of all time and the man who embodied The Who's frenetic energy and unconventional wit. Although his eccentric persona earned him the unflattering nickname of "Moon the loon," his innovative drumming garnered accolades and made him one of the rock genre's most influential percussionists. His sphere of influence was wide, and legend has it that Moon suggested to Jimmy Page that he use the name Led Zeppelin – rather than Page's New Yardbirds moniker. On September 7, 1978, Moon passed away at the age of 32, when he overdosed on medications prescribed to combat alcoholism. Thirty-three years later, Moon's legacy can still be heard in The Who's oeuvre – and beyond.

Keith John Moon was born August 23, 1946, the son of Alfred and Kathleen Moon, and raised in Wembley, England. He began playing drums at an early age and after a period performing with the surf rock group The Beachcombers, he joined Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle in London to form The Who. In their prime, the Mod "maximum R&B ...


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Today in Rock: Chrissie Hynde is Born

Wednesday, September 7: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Pretenders led by Chrissie Hynde

Akron native Chrissie Hynde is a rock pioneer and for decades the only constant in the lineup of 2005 Rock and Roll of Fame inductees, the Pretenders.  Born on September 7, 1951, she was one of the first women to front a popular rock band - not only as the singer, but also as main songwriter and bandleader - presenting a hard, unsentimental image that was far removed from the likes of Linda Ronstadt or Stevie Nicks. She seemed tough, and her songs, including “Tattooed Love Boys,” “Up the Neck” and “The Phone Call,”  could at times be unsparing, though she’d counterpoint those with sweeter tunes like “Kid” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”

In the early 1970s, Hynde moved to London in hopes of finding her footing in the music business. By 1978, budding vocalist and guitarist Hynde assembled the definitive Pretenders lineup with guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers – all from rustic Hereford. The band took off almost instantly, mastering the blistering pace and aggression of punk (fitting as she was friendly with members of the Sex Pistols and The Clash) though with added dimension. Hynde's songs possessed the melodic sheen of well-turned pop ...


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Rock Hall will honor Otis Redding's 70th birthday with a spotlight exhibit and film screening

Tuesday, August 30: 3:16 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Otis Redding

Though his career was relatively brief, Otis Redding was a singer of such commanding stature that to this day he embodies the essence of soul music in its purist form. His name is synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying up until his death in 1967. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will honor the life and music of Redding, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee, with an exhibit and film screening. Redding would have been 70 on September 9. That day, the Hall of Fame will unveil a spotlight exhibit with more than 20 artifacts in the Ahmet M. Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall. On Wednesday, September 7, the Museum will screen the film Dreams to Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding.

In honor of Otis Redding’s legacy and to support the Rock Hall’s mission, his widow Zelma Redding will donate a portion of her husband’s papers to the Rock Hall’s new Library and Archives. These will include contracts, correspondence, photographs, receipts and sheet music.  The Library and Archives will ...


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