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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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Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs

Monday, January 30: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Siouxsie Sioux

Many women found a new voice and musical identity during the punk-rock explosion of the Seventies. The anti-establishment philosophy of the punk rock movement was the perfect fit for those female musicians who still felt like outsiders in the male-dominated music industry. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth said, “I think women are natural anarchists, because you're always operating in a male framework.” Patti Smith paved the way at legendary punk venue CBGB in New York City with her fusion of experimental poetry and garage rock. British female punk rockers, such as the Slits, Raincoats, Siouxsie and the Banshees and X-Ray Spex responded to working-class discontent and racial division in Britain. Across the Atlantic, in the United States, musicians including Deborah Harry of Blondie, Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Poison Ivy of the Cramps added new sounds and ideas to the punk rock formula. “That was the beauty of the punk thing: [sexual] discrimination didn’t exist in that scene,” once noted Chrissie Hynde. Here the Rock Hall presents Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs. 

1. Patti Smith – "Piss Factory"

Patti Smith was dubbed the "godmother of punk," a moniker with merit. Smith's debut single was ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "In The City"

Wednesday, January 18: 2:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Jam's "In The City" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The Jam rode to early popularity on the first wave of British punk. Yet the group, led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Weller, consciously distanced itself from its safety-pinned compatriots and unashamedly looked back to the Sixties for inspiration from the Who, 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees the Small Faces and vintage American soul music. At a time when notions of youth rebellion were much in vogue, "In The City" stands out as a desperate plea for understanding between the generations: In the city, there's a thousand things I want to say to you/But whenever I approach you, you make me look a fool/I wanna say, I wanna tell you/About the young ideas/But you turn them into fears. The song was the title track of the group's 1977 debut, a landmark punk recording that showcased the group's bravado and musicianship. Weller's gift for hooks, insightful lyrics, slashing Rickenbacker guitar riffs and the equally urgent playing of bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler propelled "In The City" to Number 40 in May 1977 and ignited the group's hot streak of 18 consecutive UK Top 40 hits.


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Today in Rock: Patti Smith is Born

Friday, December 30: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Patti Smith

Born on December 30, 1946, Patti Smith grew to become a bohemian New York poet and punk rock artiste whose 1975 debut album, Horses, stood in daring, unapologetic contrast to the slick, arena-rock ready production and pretension of the era. Smith's street poetry and her group's garage-band aesthetic formed the foundation on which the later punk rock explosion was predicated. Smith was raised in southern New Jersey, employed in a factory and studied to be a teacher before making the paradigm shift to the art of writing and rock and roll. 

When she arrived in New York in 1967, she connected with fellow art-boho misfits, including photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, playwright Sam Sheppard and music scribe Lenny Kaye. She and Kaye brought music and poetry together, giving Smith's poignant perspective a soundscape to build upon. It was the seed for the Patti Smith Group, which formalized their union of poetry and rock with a nearly two-month house gig at CBGB in early 1974. Early on, Smith turned to American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis.

"When I came to Clive, I was really awkward, arrogant, couldn't really sing. I had pretty clumsy movements," said Smith ...


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Today in Rock: Remembering Johnny Ramone

Thursday, September 15: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
(l-r) Johnny Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone

With his trademark stance – head down, eyes focused, legs shoulder-width apart, right arm furiously strumming a low-slung Mosrite guitar – Johnny Ramone became a punk icon. He was the ultimate guitar antihero, shying from gratuitous solos and obscure voicings, preferring deliberate playing over the more familiar guitar histrionics of the late-1970s. Torn jeans, T-shirt and black leather jacket were staples of a look that became his understated hallmarks, a far cry from the flamboyant stage outfits that predominated popular music. His rapid-fire, down-stroked barre chords fostered a style that owed little in the way of influence to any other musician or group. For decades, his "buzzsaw" technique was the blaring force behind the Ramones' sound, spurring songs such as “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Glad to See You Go,” “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker,” “Rockaway Beach,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” and “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” On September 15, 2004, Johnny Ramone passed away after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer. He was 55.

Born and raised in New York City, Johnny Ramone found kindred spirits in bassist Dee Dee Ramone, singer Joey Ramone and drummer Tommy Ramone. The brash quartet hailing from Queens ignited the punk-rock ...


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