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The Rock Hall's Guide to the Essential "5" Royales Songs

Thursday, April 16: 5 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

Over the course of two decades – from 1945 to 1965 – 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee the "5" Royales created a remarkable body of work that laid the foundation for a host of music that followed in its wake. With pivotal recordings and performing techniques that helped define a variety of styles under the rock and roll umbrella, the group is responsible for some of rock's first true standards. Here are my picks for essential listening.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee the 5 Royales songs


“Bedside of a Neighbor” (1952)
The very first record by the “5” Royales was a variation of the Thomas Dorsey tune “(Standing By the) Bedside of a Neighbor.” It was recorded in August of 1951 and released on Apollo Records in January of 1952 under the name The Royal Sons Quintet. They put in a great vocal performance with the lead sung by John Tanner, but don’t miss the gospel piano played by the group’s friend Royal Abbit.

“Baby Don’t Do It” (1952)
While their contract with Apollo was to record gospel music, the group quickly began recording secular music as well; at first under the name the Royals, and then by the time of this hit song ...


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

Percy Sledge and the Southern Soul Revolution

Thursday, April 16: 9 a.m.

When Percy Sledge first tried to make a record in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the white owner of the area’s first record label refused to work with him. Saying that he preferred to stick with white country and pop artists, the producer slammed the door in the young singer’s face. A few years later, Sledge was the area’s biggest star, with a Number One hit that defined “the Muscle Shoals sound” and helped launch one of the era’s most significant music scenes. Sledge’s spare, aching ballad – the still-iconic “When A Man Loves A Woman” – not only set a musical template for deep soul, but also reflected the unique musical alchemy that made Muscle Shoals and southern soul into an international symbol of cultural change.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Percy Sledge RIP

Crucial to Sledge’s success, and that of Muscle Shoals soul, was his records’ mixture of black and white. He worked with a mostly-white group of young studio musicians, including producer Rick Hall and fellow Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham, who now embraced the chance to cut records with black artists. Additionally, Sledge was one of the great practitioners of the musical hybrid that became known, appropriately enough, as “country-soul.” Sledge’s ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Rolling Stones, History of Rock and Roll

The Rock Hall's Guide to the Essential Bill Withers Songs

Wednesday, April 15: 2 p.m.

In a recording career that lasted only 15 years, but left a lasting legacy, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers mastered the vocabularies of the acoustic singer-songwriter, R&B, disco and even mainstream jazz, while maintaining a distinctive personality as a composer and vocalist. Here are my picks for essential Bill Withers songs.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers

“Ain’t No Sunshine”
A breakthrough hit from Just As I Am (produced by Hall of Fame Inductee Booker T. Jones), “Ain’t No Sunshine” set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct,  no-frills lyric and in the pocket groove. It was also a bona fide hit, reaching Number Three on the Billboard 100 in 1971.

“Grandma’s Hands”
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you." This song is a tribute to those healing hands.

“Who Is He (and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone ...


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

Finding Bill Withers and Making "Still Bill"

Friday, April 10: 5:16 p.m.
Posted by Alex Vlack

As part of the Rock Hall's Celebration Day, the Museum will screen the Bill Withers documentary, Still Bill, at 5pm ET. In this post, the film's co-director (along with Damani Baker) Alex Vlack, shares how he found Bill Withers, his hero, and transformed the experience into a movie.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers

Everyone who's ever turned on the radio, walked into a restaurant, been in a bar, lived in this country for more than a few days knows Bill Withers' biggest songs. But most people don't know his name, and most people don't know most of his music.

I didn't really discover it until college, when my friend Jon Fine turned me on to Still Bill, Withers' second record. We listened to it on cassette over and over and over. I'd grown up on blues and jazz and rock, and thought I was pretty well-versed – when you're 18 years old, you can think of yourself as a lot of things! – so how could an album like this have slipped past me? It was, simply, the best album I'd ever heard. Fine and I started a band, and one of the first things we did was ...


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

The Rock Hall's Guide to the Essential Bill Withers Songs

Thursday, April 9: 5:54 p.m.

TK


“Ain’t No Sunshine”
The song that set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct,  no-frills lyric and in-the-pocket groove.
 
“Grandma’s Hands”
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you."  
                                           
“Who Is He(and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone of menace and an unrelenting repeated funky riff drives   this testament of a jealous lover home. 
                          
“Lean on Me”
Bill Withers’ first Number One hit took us to church. "It's a rural song that translates across demographic lines,” Withers recalled. “My experience was, there were people who were that way. They would help you out. Even in the rural South, there were people who would help you out even across racial lines. Somebody who would probably stand in a mob that might lynch you if you pissed them off, would help you out in another way."
 
“I Can’t Write ...


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

8 Incredible Items in the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee Exhibit

Monday, April 6: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

The 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee exhibit opens April 11, 2015, and will feature amazing stories and incredible pieces from this year's class: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the "5" Royales, Green Day, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Ringo Starr, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, and Bill Withers.

Here are eight of our favorite items in the new exhibit, from a mirrored-star shirt designed by Slash's Mom to an infamously muddy outfit that was at the center of a near-riot at Woodstock '94.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers

1. Bill Withers' Main Guitar

Bill Withers was in many ways an anomaly in the music business. In the “Black Power” era of funk and flash, as he put it, “[In] 1970, 1971 or something, you know, I’m this black guy coming out sitting on a chair with an acoustic guitar.” His songwriting and performance style was understated, subtle, simply and straightforwardly constructed, and both articulate and honest. Withers' Martin acoustic guitar model D-35 was his main instrument, used to write and record with, and on stage for live performances.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Green Day Woodstock 1994 Billie Joe Armstrong

2. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day's Woodstock '94 Outfit

Woodstock '94 in Saugerites, New York, was ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, History of Punk, History of Rock and Roll, The Beatles, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Exhibit

You Better Believe Gospel Shaped Rock and Roll

Sunday, April 5: 10 a.m.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrates gospel music every day at the Museum as one of the essential musical roots of rock and roll. Three gospel performers who have had a profound influence on popular music have been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Mahalia Jackson (pictured above), whose fervent contralto was one of the great voices of the 20th century; The Soul Stirrers, who brought gospel out of local churches to a national audience, setting the pace for gospel and pop vocal groups; and The Staple Singers, who landed gospel on the pop charts with songs that advanced the Civil Rights movement.

Gospel echoes throughout the history of rock and roll. We hear it in the early vocal groups like The Drifters and this year’s inductees The “5” Royales (who started out in North Carolina singing gospel as the Royal Sons Quartet); the Motown sounds of the Temptations, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas; the soul music of legends like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Darlene Love, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Wilson Pickett; and in the message and spirit of The Isley Brothers and Earth Wind & Fire in the 70s; as well as the extraordinary music ...


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2015 Grammy Awards Deliver Surprise Rock Hall Connections

Tuesday, February 10: 12:28 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Paul McCartney, Rihanna and Kanye West perform together at the 2015 Grammy Awards

This week, millions of music fans, pop culture mavens and dedicated viewers tuned in to the star-studded 2015 Grammy Awards. Over the course of more than three hours, the ceremony offered up a whirlwind of performances – nearly two dozen, in fact – and there were a handful of awards presented, some to Kanye West's chagrin. Throughout it all, there were many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame connections. Did you catch them all?

AC/DC Goes Down a "Highway to Hell"
Although Aussie rockers AC/DC have taken their unmistakable, hard-charging, loud and fiery brand of music-making around the world for more than 40 years, it was the 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees first time on the Grammy stage. The group opened with new track "Rock or Bust" before segueing into classic rock anthem "Highway to Hell" – the same song they played at their 2003 Hall of Fame Induction. Other familiar nods? Angus Young's signature school boy outfit, one of which is also featured in the Rock Hall's heavy metal exhibit alongside the handwritten lyrics to "Highway to Hell."

 

Hozier and Annie Lennox cover Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You"
Irish songwriter ...


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