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20 Essential Rock and Roll Holiday Songs

Friday, December 21: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The best rock and roll holiday songs as chosen by former Rock Hall CEO Terry Stewart

Below you’ll find a list – presented in no particular order – of my favorite rock and roll holiday songs. This was not an easy list to whittle down to a Top 20, so I encourage you to share the holiday songs that resonate most with you.  

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Come to Cleveland and visit us at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum!

20. Bobby Vee - "A Not So Merry Christmas"

 

19. Jack Scott - "There's Trouble Brewin'"

 

18. Canned Heat and the Chipmunks - "Chipmunk Song" 

 

17. The Penguins - "Jingle Jangle"

 

16. Brenda Lee - "Papa Noel"

 

15. Elvis Presley - "Santa Claus Is Back In Town"

 

14. The Hepsters - "Rockin' And Rollin' With Santa Claus"

 

13. The Drifters - "White Christmas"

 

12. Mabel Scott - "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus"

 

11. The Cameos - "Merry Christmas"

 

10. The Moonglows - "Hey Santa Claus"

 

9. Louis Armstrong - "Zat You, Santa Claus?"

 

8. The Orioles - "(It's Gonna Be A) Lonely Christmas / What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

 

7. The Valentines - "Christmas Prayer"

 

6. Babs Gonzalez - "The Be Bop Santa"

 

5. Ray Stevens - "Santa Claus Is Watching You"

 

4. Charles Brown - "Merry Christmas Baby"

 

3. Charles Brown - "Please Come Home ...


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Interview with Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead

Saturday, October 27: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Lemmy Kilmister will perform at the 2012 American Music Masters concert honoring to Chuck Berry

Over four decades, Motörhead frontman Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister has registered an immeasurable impact on music history. He remains the living embodiment of the rock and roll lifestyle. Kilmister was born in England and got hooked on rock and roll at a young age. After playing guitar in many bands as a teenager, he moved to London in 1967 and worked as a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1971, he joined the band Hawkwind and switched to bass guitar, recording several classic albums including Space Ritual and Hall of the Mountain Grill. In 1975, he formed the groundbreaking metal band, Motörhead. They played with speed and volume unheard before in rock and roll. On albums like Bomber from 1979, and 1980's Ace of Spades, they established a model for what became thrash metal. Still, Kilmister has always kept classic first-generation rock and roll at the heart of his sound. In his work with rockabilly band the Head Cat, he has explored his rock and roll roots in fantastic versions of songs by Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Motörhead is still going strong, relasing The World is Yours in 2010 and touring ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exclusive Interviews, Event

Interview with Singer-Songwriter JD McPherson

Friday, October 26: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
JD McPherson will perform at the 2012 American Music Masters concert honoring to Chuck Berry

The work of visual artist, singer-songwriter, guitarist and Oklahoma-native JD McPherson channels his eclectic interests and creative gusto in a singular musical collage that takes a reverence for the past and wraps it in a decidedly forward-thinking motif. The art teacher turned rocker writes songs that reference 40s R&B and the sounds of 50s American rock and roll, pulling from the aesthetic of such record labels as Specialty, Vee-Jay and Del-Fi. Having played in a punk outfit and embracing a penchant for hip-hop, McPherson's retro melange bridges the divide among ostensibly disparate artists, from Ruth Brown to the Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Presley to the Smiths, Jackie Wilson to Stiff Little Fingers. In 2010, McPherson released his solo debut, Signs & Signifiers, produced by Jimmy Sutton. Originally released on indie imprint Hi-Style Records, the album was re-released to a wider audience on Rounder Records in 2012. "Although I grew up wanting to be a visual artist, I'll tell you what: the most satisfaction I've ever had as an artist is right now," says McPherson. "Because as much as I love artists like Joseph Beuys, I love David Bowie and Little Richard more."

In this interview, JD McPherson ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exclusive Interviews, Event

Interview with Musician David Johansen

Friday, October 26: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Johansen will perform at the 2012 American Music Masters concert honoring to Chuck Berry

Born in Staten Island, David Johansen logged some of his earliest stage experiences while singing in rock and roll dance bands during his high school years, yet his first exposure to the music of Chuck Berry – the Rock Hall's 2012 American Music Masters honoree – came at an early age. "My older brother had a lot of great records, so I guess I was about six when I first heard him," recalled Johansen by email days before the Chuck Berry tribute concert where he'll be performing. "It sounded to me the way things were supposed to be: fun and swinging."

Johansen moved to the East Village after graduating high school, performing with Charles Ludlum's Ridiculous Theater as a spear carrier before joining the fledgling New York Dolls. The Dolls cut two iconic rock and roll records, New York Dolls and Too Much, Too Soon, before disbanding in the mid-seventies. Johansen went on to record six highly acclaimed albums and toured incessantly for the next 10 years. It was during this period, Johansen began singing jump blues, calypso and “Pre-Hayes code rock and roll” under the name Buster Poindexter, in a small saloon in his Gramercy Park neighborhood ...


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Rare Performances: Chuck Berry's 1986 Hall of Fame Induction Jam Session

Monday, October 22: 3 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Chuck Berry led an all-star live jam session when he was inducted into the RRHOF in 1986

“To me, Chuck Berry always was the epitome of rhythm and blues playing, rock and roll playing. It was beautiful, effortless, and his timing was perfection. He is rhythm supreme.” – Keith Richards

The very first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony got under way on January 23, 1986, in New York City, with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones ripping off his tuxedo jacket, revealing a flashy leopard-print jacket underneath, in true rock and roll style. That inaugural evening, Richards – Chuck Berry’s biggest fan – inducted his long-time idol, noting, “…this is the gentleman who started it all!” The ceremony itself was a melting pot of all that created rock and roll – country, gospel, the blues, rockabilly and rhythm & blues – with several of the initial inductees on stage, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who stood beside Lewis’ piano bopping and clapping his hands, and Chuck Berry.

With a who's who of rock and roll pioneers on the same stage as contemporary legends and Berry acting as bandleader, encouraging his progenies, all-star jams ensued. Inductees Keith Richards (1989), John Fogerty (1993), Neil Young (1995), Billy Joel (1999) and Steve Winwood (2004) make ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Rare Performances

Chuck Berry and Keith Richards Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll

Monday, October 22: 2:05 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Chuck Berry and Keith Richards trade licks in "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll"

The concert held on October 16, 1986, to celebrate Chuck Berry's 60th birthday and later released as the rock documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, directed by Taylor Hackford, featured a spellbinding lineup of musicians, including Eric Clapton, Etta James, original Berry keys man and blues-piano virtuoso Johnnie Johnson, sax extraordinaire Bobby Keys and Julian Lennon. It was a powerful show of reverence for rock and roll's poet laureate, a tribute as could only be orchestrated by the film's musical director and Berry fan: Keith Richards.

In his 2010 autobiography, Life, Richards shared a letter from April 1962 to his aunt Patty that recounts his introduction to Mick Jagger, writing: "You know I was keen on Chuck Berry and I thought I was the only fan for miles but one mornin' on Dartford Stn. … I was holding one of Chuck's records when a guy I knew at primary school 7-11 yrs [sic] y'know came up to me. He's got every record Chuck Berry ever made and all his mates have too, they are all rhythm and blues fans, real R&B I mean… he is called Mick Jagger." The letter goes on to ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Education, Foster Theatre, Event

Chuck Berry in "Rock, Rock, Rock!"

Monday, October 22: 1:50 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Legendary DJ Alan Freed introduces Chuck Berry in 1956's "Rock, Rock, Rock!"

Rock, Rock, Rock!, the 1956 black-and-white film starring Cleveland disc jockey and "the King of Rock 'n' Roll" Alan Freed as himself, told the story of a teenage girl trying to gather the money she needs to buy a gown for an upcoming dance. A number of performances – including those by Hall of Fame inductees Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, the Flamingos, Frankie Lymon and the Teengers and the Moonglows – move the picture along and provide its rock and roll soundtrack. 

In the clip below, Freed introduces the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's 2012 American Music Masters honoree Chuck Berry, who delivers his signature moves over "You Can't Catch Me." 

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Joe Lauro will present a compilation film of rare clips of Chuck Berry through out his career as part of the American Music Masters conference on Saturday, October 27 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. The film will present sections on Berry's acknowledged influences, including T-Bone Walker and Louis Jordan; clips of some of the famous musicians he influenced, such as the Rolling Stones, Beatles and Beach Boys; and film of the only known ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Education, Event

Interview with Bill Pinkney of the Drifters

Friday, September 7: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bill Pinkney of the Drifters reflects on his time with Buddy Holly

September 7, 2012 would have been Buddy Holly's 76th birthday. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, Holly recorded a catalog of songs – "Rave On," "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be the Day," "Oh Boy!" and "Maybe Baby," among them – that are rock and roll standards. He was born Charles Hardin Holley (later amended to "Holly") on September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas, and learned to play guitar, piano and fiddle at an early age. Holly was an innovator who wrote his own material and was among the first to exploit such advanced studio techniques as double-tracking at Norman Petty’s recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico. He pioneered and popularized the now-standard rock-band lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. In February 1955, Holly opened a show at the Lubbock Youth Center for Elvis Presley, an event that hastened his conversion from country and western to rock and roll. ("We owe it all to Elvis,” he later said). Between August 1957 and August 1958, Holly and the Crickets charted seven Top 40 singles. While the wealth of material he recorded in that short time made a major and lasting impact on popular music, it ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Education, Exclusive Interviews
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