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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Imagine"

Tuesday, October 9: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
John Lennon's "Imagine" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

"Imagine" became one of the enduring anthems of John Lennon's post-Beatles work. In an interview days before his death, he made a case for the brotherhood of man and woman: "That should be credited as a Lennon/Ono song. A lot of it – the lyric and the concept –came from Yoko, but in those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution, but it was right out of Grapefruit, her book; there's a whole pile of pieces about imagine this and imagine that, and I have given her credit now long overdue." Ono downplayed her involvement, claiming the period was ripe for mutual inspiration. Lennon responded, "Yeah, but if it had been Bowie, I would have put 'Lennon/Bowie' if it had been a male, you know... but when we did it, I just put 'Lennon' because, you know, she's just the wife and, you know, you don't put her name on, right?" Co-produced by Lennon, Ono and Phil Spector, "Imagine" was recorded in July 1971 at John's home studio in Tittenhurst Park. It reached Number Three on Billboard's Hot ...


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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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Curating the Beatles

Monday, June 11: 1 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
The Beatles at Shea Stadium on August 23, 1966 original concert poster

the Beatles exhibit at the rock and roll hall of fame and museum in ClevelandThe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is very fortunate to have what is most likely the finest, most extensive Beatles exhibit anywhere in the world. That exhibit is the result of relationships we have built over the years. I have been the chief curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland since 1994, before the Museum opened, and one of the first people I contacted when I got the job was Yoko Ono.

Prior to joining the Museum, I was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine, where I had interviewed Yoko. In addition, Jann Wenner, the editor and publisher of Rolling Stone and one of the founders of the Hall of Fame, was friends with Yoko and John Lennon. Having made those connections, I first arranged to meet Yoko at her apartment at the Dakota in New York City in 1994. Much to my surprise, she had an enormous amount of material related to her late husband John, going back to things like his school report cards and a swimming certificate. She also had many of his handwritten lyric manuscripts, guitars, clothing and other personal effects. Yoko agreed to ...


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Today in Rock: The Beatles hit Number One with "Come Together/Something"

Tuesday, November 29: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Axl Rose and Bruce Springsteen perform the Beatles' "Come Together" at the '94 Rock Hall Inductions

On November 29, 1969, the Beatles were at the top of Billboard's Hot 100, earning their first two-sided Number One single with "Come Together/Something." It became the Fab Four's 18th Number One single – one more than Elvis Presley's 17, which he reached on November 1 that year with "Suspicious Minds." On the week of November 29, Billboard changed the way it calculated its charts, ranking both sides of double-sided singles in the same position rather than separately. This was key to the Beatles' Number One climb, as the previous week saw "Come Together" fall to Number Seven and "Something" hold strong at Number 3.

"Come Together" and "Something" appeared on Abbey Road, the Beatles' 11th studio album, released in the United States on October 1, 1969. George Harrison's "Something" was the first of his musical compositions to be released as an A-side to a Beatles' single. In Harrison's partial autobiography, I, Me, Mine, he explained of "Something": "This I suppose is my most successful song with over 150 cover versions. My favorite cover version is the one by James Brown – that was excellent." Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Shirley Bassey, and Booker T. and the ...


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McCartney's Letter to Lennon

Wednesday, November 23: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Paul McCartney inducts John Lennon

In 1994, John Lennon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. His longtime friend and musical collaborator Paul McCartney, making his first Hall of Fame appearance, inducted Lennon. More personal than the traditional induction speech, McCartney read a "letter" to Lennon, recounting a number of moving memories and thanking Lennon.

McCartney shared stories from their earliest attempts at writing songs together, teaching Lennon guitar chords and visiting Lennon's "Mum's house." He talked of their hotel visits with Little Richard and Gene Vincent, and spending time with Elvis Presley. He recalled Lennon's advice for handling the vocals on the Beatles' "Kansas City" and the "sneaky little look" they shared during the writing of "A Day In The Life." McCartney discussed meeting "this girl called Yoko Ono" – who later accepted Lennon's Hall of Fame Award on behalf of her late husband. The heartfelt letter moved many to tears.

"The joys you told me about how you were baking bread now and how you were playing with your little baby Sean," said McCartney of reconnecting with Lennon later in life. "That was great for me, because it gave me something to hold ...


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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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