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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Fever"

Wednesday, September 17: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, revered Little Willie John, having opened shows for John early on and later recorded an entire album of his tunes, the 1968 tribute Thinking About Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things. Brown was just but one of many artists of the day who were influenced by John's gospel-charged R&B sound. The likes of Hall of Fame Inductees Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and Al Green all noted a musical debt to the man behind "Fever," and hits including "Sleep," "Talk To Me, Talk To Me" and "Leave My Kitten Alone" – the latter an early Beatles fave.

Spending his formative years raised in Detroit, Michigan, Little Willie John's stature belied his powerful voice. Signed to Syd Nathan's Cincinnati-based King Records in 1955, John cut the haunting, sultry "Fever" in 1956 at the tender age of 18. His smooth style presaged soul music. His delivery was passionate and dramatic, which paired with his melding of styles proved the perfect foil to such evocative lyricism.


Sadly, this polished, passionate artist suffered a sad fate: convicted of manslaughter in a post-gig fracas and sentenced to prison in 1966, he died under disputed circumstances ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Stairway to Heaven"

Wednesday, August 20: 4:20 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Robert Plant live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

No one song ever defined or redefined a group as generously as "Stairway To Heaven" did Led Zeppelin. For Jimmy Page, "Stairway" crystallized the essence of the band: "It had everything there and showed the band at its best...as a band, as a unit" he said.

"Stairway" evolved during winter 1970-71 sessions for the group's iconographically titled fourth album (a.k.a. ZOSO). It achieved an alchemical blend of the band's metal foundation with the rootsy feel of tones that decorated Led Zeppelin III. Page came up with the chord structure at the Zep retreat in Bron-Yr-Aur, Wales. After a reality check back in London at Island studios, the band regrouped at a country estate in Hampshire called Headley Grange. "Stairway To Heaven" came together as the band lounged before a roaring fire, took out the guitars and plugged into the Rolling Stones' mobile recording studio parked outside to capture the rapid flow of inspiration.

Plant in particular seemed to be channeling an active muse. According to Page: "He must have written three quarters of the lyrics on the spot. He didn't have to go away and think about them. Amazing, really." Plant himself cited British ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players

Los Angeles in the 60s: Beefeaters, Byrds, Buffalos and Folk-rock Supergroups

Thursday, August 14: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

the Beefeaters and the Byrds folk rock in Los Angeles the sounds of the 60s

Fifty years ago, in 1964, a group of musicians – Roger McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark – came together in Los Angeles, California, calling themselves the Beefeaters. By December of 1964, the Beefeaters had recruited Chris Hillman on bass guitar and Michael Clarke on drums, and changed their name to the Byrds. Far more than a name change, the group charted a new course in rock and roll history, pioneering the folk rock sounds that would become so emblematic of an era and influential generations later.

Folk rock didn't necessarily begin with the Byrds' "Mr Tambourine Man" – four months before they recorded it, the Animals were topping the pop charts with "The House of the Rising Sun" – but its combination of song and performance epitomized the genre, with the happy effect of giving Bob Dylan (as songwriter, at least) a Number One hit. The only Byrd playing on it, though, was electric 12-string guitarist McGuinn.  Producer Terry Melcher, doubtful of the new band's abilities, hired session musicians to back up the vocals of McGuinn, Crosby and Clark. Perhaps Melcher had heard the group's originally private 1964 recording of the tune, which sounds like an arrangement for a music ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Bob Dylan, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "That'll Be the Day"

Monday, August 11: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Buddy Holly "That'll Be the Day" original recording and Buddy Holly exhibit at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Buddy Holly embodied the well-mannered, first-generation rock and roll star. He aroused hysteria among teenagers, charting seven Top 10 singles in 1957 and 1958, but with his horn-rimmed glasses, bow tie, conservative haircut and winning smile, he wasn’t reviled by disapproving parents. He changed the definition of exactly who could become a rock star. Holly melded his love of country music and rockabilly into likable, catchy rock and roll tunes that stand as classics. Yet success wasn't just handed to Buddy Holly.

"That'll Be the Day," his first hit, was a chart-topping million seller. But it was slow to catch on, and Holly had been struggling professionally for well over a year beforehand. The unlikely inspiration for the song was actor John Wayne, who used the title phrase repeatedly in the 1956 western The Searchers. Holly and drummer Jerry Allison wrote the tune with producer Norman Petty, and then recorded it in Nashville during Holly's aborted stint as a Decca recording artist. Decca released two Holly singles, neither of them were "That'll Be the Day."

Seven months later Holly and Allison recorded the song again, as members of the newly formed Crickets. This time the ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Headbanger's Anthem: AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" Celebrates 35th Anniversary

Monday, August 4: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

AC/DC Highway to Hell Album Cover Art 1979 original

A guitarist in schoolboy knickers, a singer who must have gargled with glass shards, and a penchant for tales of non-stop debauchery made AC/DC the late 70s archetypal heavy metal band. Brothers Angus and Malcolm Young generated bulldozing guitar, with their early records produced by third sibling, George (former member of popsters the Easybeats, who had a hit in 1966 with "Friday on my Mind").

Released in the first week of August 1979, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell was a major turning point for the group. Though the group's fifth album, it was the band’s first collaboration with producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, who brought a keen focus to AC/DC’s energetic sound.

With the album's release, AC/DC crept into the U.S. mainstream on the strength of "Highway to Hell," the thunderous opening to the album of the same name. The song didn't endear them to religious right-wingers, who posited that AC/DC's name was shorthand for "anti Christ/Devil's children."  Nor did it help when California's "Night Stalker" serial killer Richard Ramirez, expressed his admiration for the group.

WATCH: AC/DC Perform "Highway to Hell" live at the ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Inductee, Hall of Fame

Festival Six Pack: Performers at 2014 Bonnaroo and In Rock Hall

Monday, June 16: 12:02 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

This summer as rock and roll fans gather at musical festivals around the globe, the Rock Hall is celebrating the the greatest music festivals in history, the biggest and baddest music festivals of today and the fans who make Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience.

From June 12-15, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes over Manchester, Tennessee, with a host of performances from some of the biggest names in music. Among the headlining acts and performers at Bonnaroo this year are a number of artists who also feature in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cleveland, Ohio, including four Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.


Mickey Hart:

Percussionist Mickey Hart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 with his bandmates in the Grateful Dead. When Hart visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 2012, he shared stories about the first time he ever saw the Grateful Dead live and the San Francisco scene in the 60s. Pictured below is his illuminated signature in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.




Bobby Womack:

Bobby Womack was born in Cleveland, where he and his ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, The Grateful Dead, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Greatest Festivals in Rock and Roll History, Inductee, Hall of Fame

Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." 30th Anniversary

Wednesday, June 11: 7 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." turns 30

Released in June 1984, Born in the U.S.A. remains among the best-selling albums in rock and roll history, with seven Top 10 hits that sent 1999 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bruce Springsteen's rock stardom into the stratosphere. Its narrative tone had much in common with 1982's stark, somber and critically lauded Nebraska, with many of the songs that comprised Born in the U.S.A. beginning life in the same sessions that produced that album. The root influences of blues, American folk songs and the new cinematic style of directors such as Martin Scorsese and Terrence Malick brought a darker and more introspective view to the characters. “I’m on Fire,” for example, was a song of desire, compulsion and personal struggle that became a Top 10 hit in 1985, despite its intense subject matter.

However, Born in the U.S.A. also traded in more nostalgic storytelling and tongue-in-cheek humor on tracks like "Glory Days" and "Dancing in the Dark" – all of which proved especially resonant with audiences around the country. Thanks in no small part to 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees the E Street Band, the arrangements were ...


continue Categories: History of Rock and Roll, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Today in Rock

Folk-rock findings at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives

Tuesday, June 3: 5 p.m.

Recently, I gave a presentation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives about my books on 1960s folk-rock. Most of it was centered around rare film clips, but I was also asked to talk a bit about the research I’ve done at the library over the past two weeks (thanks to a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation). This is for the expanded ebook edition of my two-volume work on 1960s folk-rock, Turn! Turn! Turn! (published as a print edition in 2002) and Eight Miles High (published as a print edition in 2003), which I’m combining into a single ebook, Jingle Jangle Morning: Folk-Rock in the 1960s.

It would take many hours and many pages to cover all of the material I’ve discovered at the library. So I used just a few images to illustrate how rare items could shed some light on folk-rock’s history, even after having written about it for 600 pages in the print editions. All of these are taken from ads that appeared between 1965 and 1967 in Cash Box, the biggest music trade magazine besides Billboard, but (unlike Billboard) very hard to find copies of these ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Bob Dylan, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Hall of Fame, Library and Archives
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