ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM :: Blog
Thursday, July 28: 11:41 a.m.
Bono performs during final stop of the 360° Tour. Photo courtesy of Ivor Karabatkovic
U2 played the next-to-last show on their 360° World Tour on Tuesday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. I was fortunate to have been there to witness this amazing spectacle. The tour kicked off back in 2009, ostensibly in support of the band’s No Line on the Horizon album, and it has grossed more than $700 million. The stage set is unbelievable, with a claw-shaped stage structure that is 168 feet tall, with massive video screens. I’ve never seen a stage set that comes close to this one.
U2 opened the concert with four songs from their 1991 Achtung Baby album: “Even Better Than the Real Thing,” “The Fly,” “Mysterious Ways” and “Until the End of the World.” They then played “I Will Follow” from their 1980 debut album, Boy. “Get on Your Boots” and “Stay” followed. Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, then appeared on the giant video screens to say, “Hello, Pittsburgh!” and introduce the next song, “Beautiful Day.” From that point, the show continued to get better and better, as U2 played hit after hit, including “Elevation,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “City of Blinding Lights,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “Vertigo,” “Walk On ...
Tuesday, March 9: 5:28 p.m.
Students at Hawken School
The Rock Hall Education Department teaches over 20,000 K-12 students every year through our Rockin’ the Schools programming. These hour-long classes, which cover topics from the history of hip-hop to the science of sound, teach the rich history of rock and roll, while meeting and exceeding educational content standards in areas like social studies, science, mathematics, and the language arts. It’s amazing to watch learning come alive for the students who visit us at the Museum.
A group of ten middle school students from Hawken School, led by teacher, Tim Desmond, worked in residence at the Rock Hall as part of an experimental Insights Course offered at the school. The students spent three full days at the Museum, attending Rockin’ the Schools classes, exploring exhibits, and working together on self-directed research projects. Participants even got the chance to interview members of the Education Department on topics ranging from hip-hop to heavy metal. These interviews were later used in short documentaries developed and produced by the students themselves.
It was an honor to work with such thoughtful and engaged students and exciting to watch their progress over the three days of their stay. I was continually impressed by the ...
Friday, February 12: 12 p.m.
Assistant Curator Meredith Rutledge discusses late fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s influence on the look of rock and roll
When talking about rock and roll’s relationship to the world of fashion, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame chief curator Jim Henke said, “virtually every artist defines (themselves) as much by the way they look as by the music they play.”
It’s been said that fashion and style are the natural visual counterparts to creative musical expression. Rock and roll artists have had a long relationship with the world of high fashion — picture Elvis Presley’s iconic gold lamé suit designed by Nudie, then fast forward to Madonna’s equally iconic gold bustier designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. Fashion designers like Gaultier, Thierry Mugler and Gianni Versace have all become synonymous with the branding of rock stars like Madonna, Mick Jagger and Elton John. That’s why the tragic death of clothing designer Alexander McQueen, whom Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour called “one of the greatest talents of his generation,” has especially resonated here at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. McQueen was a favorite designer of the rock world, creating red carpet, stage and album cover looks ...
Thursday, February 11: 1:45 p.m.
Frankie Sardo is not a rock and roll star. He never sold a million albums or reached the top of the charts. He is not a household name. However, he is a vital character in one of the most important chapters of rock and roll history. Frankie Sardo was the opening act for the 1959 Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, which was the last concert performance for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. The three music legends were killed when their plane crashed following their performance at the Surf Ballroom on February 3, 1959. A little over 51 years after that fateful night, Frankie Sardo returned to the Surf Ballroom for the first time.
In a continuing partnership with the Surf Ballroom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum co-sponsored a luncheon with the Surf as part of the Winter Dance Party event on February 6, 2010, in Clear Lake. The luncheon featured a one-on-one interview with Frankie Sardo. This interview was the first time Sardo has publicly spoken about his memories and stories surrounding the tour.
Sardo never wanted to be a rock and roll star. He was invited ...
Friday, February 5: 4:35 p.m.
Pete Seeger's banjo head arrived at the Rock Hall yesterday.
Curatorial Director Howard Kramer shares insight on his conversation with Seeger and why he decided to put his infamous banjo head in the Museum instead of on auction.
On Monday, my co-worker in the membership department, Linda Worden, called me to say that she had Pete Seeger on the line and he wanted to speak with me about donating something. I could hear the excitement in her voice about having a conversation with a legend like Pete. It’s a wonderful perk of working at the Rock Hall. She transferred the call to me and there was Pete, spry and warm as usual. Last fall he celebrated his 90th birthday with a sold-out all-star show in his honor at Madison Square Garden. He has been a part of our lives for so long you could easily take for granted his contributions to music and society. Pete has been a leading force in American folk music long before there was any sort of folk revival. His tireless work for social justice and environmental causes is virtually unparalleled.
Back to the phone call. Pete explains to me that he was trying to raise money for the Haitian earthquake relief effort. He had ...
Thursday, January 28: 12 p.m.
Guest blogger Caryn Rose shares her thoughts with us about her visit to see the Rock Hall’s special exhibit From Asbury Park to the Promised Land and her first tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It’s a funny thing to have watched Bruce Springsteen sitting at the Kennedy Center, with his rainbow ribbon award around his neck, and find yourself standing in front of that very award just a few weeks later, in his exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s even odder that that ribbon is in a room along with the legendary Esquire, and that you can get close enough to the guitar (inside its case, of course!) that you can see that the legend is true, that there’s more glue than wood in some places. It’s in a room with the very jeans that adorned the very ass that graced the cover of Born In The USA, the original handwritten lyrics to “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” (with the “freeze out” written in wriggly letters I assume was meant to convey ice), the very flannel shirt that was on the cover of The River (the cuffs so ...
Friday, January 15: 7:17 p.m.
Jacklyn Chisholm, vice president of planning and institutional relations at the Rock Hall
As we approach another celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it caused me to stop for a moment and think about the music that helped to define the civil rights movement. There are two songs, in particular, that when I hear them, I hear the dreams of a people hoping for a better life in America. The two are “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke and “Keep on Pushing” by the Impressions. Both songs were released in 1964 at the height of the civil rights movement.
In “A Change is Gonna Come,” Sam Cooke sings about the hardships that he’s encountered, but ends each verse with “But I know that a change is gonna come, oh yes it will.”
The Impressions exhorted Blacks to keep reaching higher through verses like, “Now look-a look-a look yonder, what’s that I see? A great big stone wall stands there ahead of me. But I’ve got my pride and I’ll move on aside and keep on pushin.”
What’s interesting to note is that both of these songs that were so important to the civil rights movement became songs of victory during ...
Wednesday, January 6: 8:28 p.m.
Photo of Elvis’ Jukebox currently on display at the Rock Hall courtesy of the Rock Hall/Design Photo
We’re approaching another landmark rock and roll anniversary. This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth. It’s one of those moments that make you wonder what would have happened had he not died so young. Several of Elvis’s contemporaries are alive and still working. What would he have done in the last three decades? Would he have finally toured outside the U.S.? Would he have gone back to making films? Would he have told his story in his own words? I mention that last one because Elvis never sat for an in-depth interview in his life.
There’s a lot of myth surrounding Elvis Presley. So much of it tends to dwell on sensationalism and the myth of myth itself. If you have any interest in finding out more I about him, I strongly urge you to read the books Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, Peter Guralnick’s extraordinary two-volume biography of Presley. Better yet, listen again to what made Elvis the legend he is, the music. Pick up a copy of Elvis at Sun, the 2004 compilation of his seminal recordings done with Sam Phillips in Memphis between July ...