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Today In Rock: Jim Morrison is Born

Thursday, December 8: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Doors

On December 8, 1943, James Douglas "Jim" Morrison was born. The lead singer of the Doors lived a short, tragic life. He was only 27 when he died of heart failure in Paris, France. But, musically, Morrison accomplished a tremendous amount in his six years with the Doors. As Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Jim Henke wrote in his book, The Jim Morrison Scrapbook: “From 1967 to 1970, during his spectacular zenith, Jim Morrison seemingly had it all. He was an internationally revered rock star with numerous hit records to his credit, a dynamic stage performer, an alluring sex symbol, and a published poet.” The Doors formed in the summer of 1965 around Morrison and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who’d met at UCLA’s film school. A year later the group signed with Elektra Records, recording six landmark studio LPs –  including their '67 self-titled debut, Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman – and a live album for the label. The group’s dark, brooding personality came largely from singer Jim Morrison.

The Museum is home to many Jim Morrison artifacts that help tell the Morrison story, such as his Cub Scout uniform and a ...


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Today in Rock: Jimi Hendrix is Born

Sunday, November 27: 9:05 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Jimi Hendrix (11.27.42 - 9.18.70)

On November 27, 1942, arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music was born: Jimi Hendrix. In less than three decades, he expanded the range and vocabulary of the electric guitar into areas no musician had ever ventured before. His boundless drive, technical ability and creative application of such effects as wah-wah and distortion forever transformed the sound of rock and roll. Hendrix helped usher in the age of psychedelia with his 1967 debut, Are You Experienced, and the impact of his brief but meteoric career on popular music continues to be felt.

More than any other musician, Jimi Hendrix realized the fullest range of sound that could be obtained from an amplified instrument. He was influenced by the songwriting of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and bridged myriad genres, from acid rock, Delta blues and free jazz to hardcore funk, R&B and soul. Yet the songs and sounds generated by Hendrix were original, otherworldly and virtually indescribable. In essence, Hendrix channeled the music of the cosmos, anchoring it to the earthy beat of rock and roll.

Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle to 17-year-old mother Lucille Jeter and father James "Al" Hendrix, who was ...


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Today in Rock: Duane Allman is Born

Saturday, November 19: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Duane Allman / photo by Ed Berman

On November 20, 1946, legendary guitarist Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee. His unparalleled guitar work, songwriting and inspiring presence helped earn his namesake band a deserved place in the pantheon of rock and roll, and made him an icon.

As the principal architects of Southern rock, the Allman Brothers Band forged this new musical offshoot from elements of blues, jazz, soul, R&B and rock and roll. Along with the Grateful Dead and Cream, they help advance rock as a medium for improvisation. Their kind of jamming required a level of technical virtuosity and musical literacy that was relatively new to rock & roll, which had theretofore largely been a song-oriented medium. Duane Allman and Dickey Betts – The original guitarists in the Allman Brothers Band – broke that barrier with soaring, extended solos. Combined with organist Gregg Allman’s gruff, soulful vocals and Hammond B3 organ, plus the forceful, syncopated drive of a rhythm section that included two drummers, the Allman Brothers Band were a blues-rocking powerhouse from their beginnings in 1969. Moreover, their success paved the way for other bands from the South, including Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Charlie Daniels Band. 

The group formed around ...


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Today in Rock: The Beatles' record-breaking 1965 Shea Stadium show

Monday, August 15: 1:32 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
The second Beatles Shea Stadium show concert poster, on display at the Rock Hall.

The Beatles played Shea Stadium in New York City on August 15, 1965. They were the first rock group to play an outdoor sports stadium, and the show attracted 55,600 fans - the most attended show of the time. The promoter of the show, Sid Bernstein, said that the concert grossed $304,000, the largest gross from any event in show business up to that point.  “It was the biggest crowd we ever played to anywhere in the world,” John Lennon said of the  Shea show. “I heard a jet taking off, and I thought one of our amplifiers had blown up. We couldn’t hear ourselves sing.” The noise was so deafening that at the end of the show, during “I’m Down,” Lennon began playing a keyboard with his elbows while the whole group laughed hysterically. A documentary about the show, The Beatles at Shea Stadium, was produced by Ed Sullivan and was broadcast on ABC-TV the following year.  The Beatles played a second show at Shea on August 23, 1966. It was one of their final live performances.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s newly revamped Beatles exhibit includes the jacket that Paul ...


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AC/DC's 'Back in Black' - a retrospective

Monday, July 25: 5:50 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

On July 25, 1980 AC/DC released Back In Black, an album that became an instant classic and is still one of the top selling rock albums worldwide.  It is not hard to hear why.  In the liner notes to the 2003 re-issue of the album David Fricke wrote that “Back In Black was, and still is, a marvel of rock & roll synchronicity.”  The record features songs that are still classic rock anthems today including “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.”  Produced by rock legend John “Mutt” Lange, the entire forty-two minutes are filled with heavy melodic guitar riffs, a steady pounding rock rhythm section, and the gritty, screeching voice of…Brian Johnson.

The story of Johnson’s role as lead singer is what pushes Back In Black past the realm of classic albums and into the space of rock mythology.  The album was a rebirth for the band only months after previous lead singer Bon Scott passed away February 19, 1980.  At the time, it seemed amazing that AC/DC could find a new singer who captured the passion, growl, and attitude of Scott’s voice – a voice that was at ...


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