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Etta James Sings "At Last" and Hits the Charts

Friday, January 24: 8 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Etta James

At the end of the 1960s, traditional R&B was moving in different directions: toward Motown and its pop-ready "Sound of Young America," and the grittier Southern soul of Stax/Volt and Fame Recording Studio. Etta James sided with the latter. Born January 25, 1938, as Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, California, she had moved from a gospel choir to a girl trio to the Johnny Otis Revue by the time she had her first R&B hit at 17. “I might have been a little church girl singing gospel, but I loved all the music – soaked it up like a sponge," said James. "I remember Charles Brown, who killed me with 'Drifting Blues.' I’d hear that good time music floating out onto the street, whether it was some smooth blues like T-Bone Walker or sophisticated jazz….[I’d] poke my head into a joint, amazed by the men in their stingy-brim hats and them gators on their feet, chicks poured into skintight dresses, laughing and flirting and carrying on.” 

In the spring of 1961, “At Last” became a Number Two R&B hit and remains ...


continue Categories: Black History Month, Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Hall of Fame, Today in Rock, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

How James Brown Saved Boston in 1968

Friday, January 17: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
James Brown in 1968

In a decade marred by tumult, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr had emerged as the charismatic voice of the civil rights movement, advancing the cause with a resonant message of nonviolence and peaceful civil disobedience. He was the loudspeaker for thousands crying out, the channel through which the civil rights movement found unity. With King's assassination on April 4, 1968, the world lost among its most fearless leaders.

News of King's assassination sent shockwaves across the country and people took to the streets in frustration. As day broke in Boston on Friday, April 5, government officials nervously anticipated another night of unrest, yet an unlikely keeper of the peace came forward and helped unite a community: James Brown

Variously dubbed "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business" and "Mr. Dynamite" among other monikers, Brown had been scheduled to perform in the city's center, at the Boston Garden. Amid great civil strife, Mayor Kevin White faced a quandary: aggravate a tense situation by canceling the event for overtly racial fears or dismiss concerns expressed by law enforcement. His decision came ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Event, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Education

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Stop! In the Name of Love"

Wednesday, January 15: 5 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
The Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

In January 1961, Motown signed the Supremes, an all-female group who emerged from the poverty of Detroit’s Brewster housing project to become among Motown’s most consistent hitmakers and the most popular female group of the 60s. 

Representing the Motown sound at its most stylized, the Supremes were the 1960s’ biggest group after the Beatles. They scored 10 Number One hits, including five in a row, right in the midst of the British Invasion. Diana Ross’ vocals achieved their greatest affect in this period because producers/songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland supplied her with novel concepts that capitalized on her penchant for melodrama. “Stop! In the Name of Love” could be the most dramatic of them all. HDH recordings used gospel elements more proudly and directly than any other Motown productions – the ever-present Motown tambourine is a gospel trademark, for example. But HDH never limited themselves.

Diana Ross and The Supremes exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum“Stop! In the Name of Love” benefits from James Jamerson’s earthquake bassline, the track's baritone sax riff and ringing vibes undercurrent, and an organ part adding tension to Ross' chilling moment: “Stop!” Stylistically, Ross had little more relationship to gospel than Frank Sinatra does, but HDH didn't put her in church, they simply ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Celebrating the Songs and Life of Doc Pomus with Director William Hechter

Monday, January 13: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Doc Pomus singing in the late 1940s

Remembered not only as a peerless songwriter but also as a formidable personality and cheerful raconteur, 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Doc Pomus was one of the real characters from rock and roll’s golden era. Atlantic Records producer and co-owner Jerry Wexler succinctly described his sphere of influence: "If the music industry has a heart, it would be Doc Pomus." 

Pomus authored among the greatest songs in rock and roll history: "This Magic Moment" (recorded by the Drifters), "A Teenager in Love" (recorded by Dion and the Belmonts) and "Save the Last Dance for Me" (recorded by Ben E. King). Elvis Presley recorded at least 20 Pomus originals. In Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's collection includes the hand-written lyrics to "Save the Last Dance for Me," which Pomus wrote at his wedding, while watching his new bride, Wilma Burke, dancing (pictured below).

Born Jerome Solon Felder in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn on June 27, 1925, he adopted the name Doc Pomus to hide his singing from his parents. Stricken with polio as a child, Pomus was confined to crutches and a wheelchair, though it never slowed him down. For ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Event, Exclusive Interviews, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Education, Foster Theatre

Neil Young Honors the Everly Brothers

Thursday, January 9: 1:40 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Phil and Don Everly brought the country tradition of blood-related harmony to the rock and roll generation. Their songs and musical style informed and influenced countless musicians across many genres for seven decades and likely many more to come. There's a reason that Don and Phil Everly were among the first group of Inductees in 1986: their music helped define rock and roll. With the passing of Phil Everly on January 3, 2014, rock and roll lost one of its greatest voices, though a legacy of recordings and acolytes around the globe promise that Phil's music will never be silenced.

"When I was about 15 or maybe 12, I started playing in a band in school, and we got together in my garage – four guys with some beat up pieces of equipment that really didn't work too good," Neil Young said when inducting the Everly Brothers at the 1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. "We started playing, and we did instrumentals for about a year or so, and then I got up enough nerve to start singing. Some people say maybe I shouldn't have started that. Anyway, one of the other guys in ...


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

A Never-Before-Heard Johnny Cash Album Gets Release Date

Thursday, December 12: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
New Johnny Cash album: Out Among the Stars

“'I Walk the Line' was a hit in November of 1956, that’s about a year before I was born, so it really is a part of the world that I know. But that’s the way it seems with great songs and great artists. Their impact on people is such that you can’t imagine what the world would be like or sound like without them.”

That was Lyle Lovett describing the first Johnny Cash song he ever heard, when he inducted Cash at the 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony (watch video of Lyle Lovett inducting Johnny Cash into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).

“I Walk the Line” hit Number One on the country Billboard charts and crossed over into the pop Top 20. Nearly six decades after "I Walk the Line" – and more than a decade after his passing in 2003 at age 71 – new, never-before-heard material from The Man in Black is scheduled for release in Spring 2014.

Pictured (l-r): 1943 Martin acoustic guitar played by Johnny Cash during his Sun Records recording sessions from 1955 to 1958; c.1955 suit worn by Johnny Cash during his time with Sun Records ...


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

40 Years Later: Guitarist Gary Rossington and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird"

Wednesday, December 4: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Gary Rossington

On December 4, 1951, Gary Rossington was born. One of the founding members and guitarist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rossington played his way into Southern rock history.

This year marks Rossington’s 63rd birthday and also the 40-year anniversary of Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album, (Pronounced 'leh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), featuring the hit song “Free Bird.” The original 1973 version of "Free Bird" was truly wrenching: a nine-minute salute to a departed Southern brother Duane Allman, highlighted by Ronnie Van Zant's mournful vocals and relentless soloing from Allen Collins and Gary Rossington. (Skynyrd's trademark three-lead guitar lineup hadn't crystallized yet.) Rossington’s instrument of choice was his 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar that is now on display in the Museum’s Architects of Rock exhibit. Fifties-era Gibson Les Paul guitars are among the most sought-after and costly guitars in the rock world, and when Rossington was finally able to purchase a 1959 model, he named it after his beloved mother Berneice. Rossington played slide guitar on “Free Bird.” (pictured below: Gary Rossington 1959 Gibson Les Paul, on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum)

Despite saturation radio play since its first appearance ...


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, Today in Rock, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

.38 Special Founding Member Jeff Carlisi Recalls Hearing Jimi Hendrix for the First Time

Wednesday, November 27: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Jimi Hendrix live in 1968 / photo by Jeff Carlisi

 

In this exclusive interview with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, author, musician and .38 Special founding member and guitarist Jeff Carlisi shares his thoughts on legendary guitarist and Hall of Fame inductee Jimi Hendrix, including seeing Jimi Hendrix live in 1968.

"I actually saw Jimi Hendrix, and I still have photographs, I was a school photographer. I guess it was 1968 in Jacksonville, Florida. I don't remember anything about it. I look at the pictures, and I don't even remember being there, but I remember I had to see this guy because I remember sitting next to my grandmother's radio in Boston, Massachusetts, waiting all night long to hear this song that my cousin told me about, "Purple Haze." He couldn't describe it to me. I said, 'What does it sound like?' I had been playing guitar for a while and he said 'it was like nothing you've ever heard.' Finally it comes on and it was like, 'Oh my God -- you're kidding me.'

"Hendrix was a brilliant guitar player in the sense that he didn't play guitar -- guitar was his paintbrush. It was an extension of his mind. You could ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Today in Rock, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Jimi Hendrix, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews, History of Rock and Roll
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