Howard Smith was a man both on the scene and of the scene in late-1960s New York. As a photographer, columnist and broadcaster, Smith immersed himself in the emerging subculture of music and art while maintaining a keen journalist’s eye on the revolution happening around him. The interviews that comprise the set, The Smith Tapes 1969-1972, recently acquired by the Library and Archives, are raw, unedited recordings with those at the forefront of the hippie subculture as well as the era’s rock superstars, including John Lennon, Abbie Hoffman, Lou Reed, the authors of Hair, and Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper talking about their new film Easy Rider.
Within this compelling collection there are some true gems. A USB flash drive – cleverly housed in a replica audio cassette with faux-stained labels – contains a collection of reports from the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, where Smith describes both the serenity of the fans and the struggle of organizers amidst the rain and near-overwhelming crowds. On one of the final discs in the collection is a brief phone interview with Janis Joplin who, when questioned about the burgeoning women’s liberation movement, initially dismisses it but encourages women not to settle ...
Aretha Franklin was only 24 years old when she signed with Atlantic Records in November 1966, but she had already been making records for much of her life, first as a child gospel singer, then as a pop singer of only modest success.
Born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, Aretha Franklin was raised in Detroit. Her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, was the charismatic pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church, which he turned into a large and thriving institution. From an early age, Aretha sang at her father’s behest during services at New Bethel. Her first recordings turned up on an album called Spirituals, recorded at the church when she was only 14. Although she was firmly rooted in gospel, Franklin also drew from such blues and jazz legends as Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn as she developed her singing style. On the male side, she was inspired by Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke (both with and without the Soul Stirrers). From the emerging world of youthful doo-wop groups and early soul, Aretha enjoyed the likes of LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, Little Willie John, the Falcons (featuring Wilson Pickett) and Frankie Lymon ...
Best known for her bold, rich and unparalleled emotionally expressive voice, Patsy Cline is one of the most inspirational, influential and impactful female vocalists of the 20th century. As a country music industry pioneer, Cline helped to blaze a trail for women to become headline performers in the genre. As a pillar of talent, Cline often encouraged and helped to support a number of female artists in country music, including Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Brenda Lee and Dottie West. Cline also befriended her male counterparts, including Roger Miller, Faron Young, Harlan Howard and Carl Perkins – possessing the rare ability to be “one of the boys.” Cline could belly-up to the bar and tell a raunchier joke than any man. Her moxie and spunky attitude garnered the respect of the “good ole’ boy” Nashville network and allowed her to take charge of her own career in a way that other women at the time simply couldn’t do. Cline never backed down when it came to the business – “No dough, no show” was often her mantra and according to friend and fellow perfomer West, “It was common knowledge around town that you didn’t mess with ‘The Cline!’”
Recently, the Library and Archives acquired the collection of Cleveland’s own Jane Scott, which includes items accumulated over the course of Scott’s long career as the first rock critic at a daily newspaper: interview notebooks, autographs, personal and promotional photographs, handbills, tour books, concert programs, sheet music, scrapbooks, posters, set lists, press passes, buttons, books, magazines, newspapers, fanzines, LPs, 45s, audiocassettes, CDs, videocassettes, DVDs, correspondence, artist press kits and newspaper clippings.
Packing up all the materials from her apartment and moving them to the Library and Archives took nearly five hours, with the guidance of Scott’s estate attorney and myself, and the assistance of four professionals from local Wood-Lee International Art Handler. The estate attorney had much of the material sorted by type of material in advance of our visit, which made the entire enterprise go more smoothly.
Often when archivists are asked to do this type of work, there are few bodies to assist and even less organization, so it was refreshing to come into this environment where not only had some level of organization been accomplished for us — filing cabinets emptied into cartons and a closet full of clippings and other documents sorted and ...
The rockabilly field of the 1950s wasn’t exactly crowded with female performers, but Wanda Jackson didn’t let that stop her from making her mark. Born on October 20, 1937, she emerged from a small town in Oklahoma to become the first Queen of Rockabilly. With encouragement from Elvis Presley, whom she met while on a package tour in 1955, Jackson moved from country music to rock and roll. "I was just doing straight country, and that's all I had ever planned on doing. [Elvis] started talking to me about his kind of music – we didn't really have a name for it at that point," said Jackson during a 2009 Hall of Fame series interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Vice President of Education and Public Programs Lauren Onkey. "I said look, I love it of course, but you're a guy, you can sing it, and I just don't think I can do it. He just kept insisting that I could do it – he said, 'you got the voice.' He took me out to his home in Memphis, and we played records that afternoon.
"He made me promise that somewhere along ...
"Pioneers of Rock" is the second installment in a special series that highlights the evolution of women in music by placing their accomplishments, inspirations and influence in the context of the eras that shaped their sounds and messages. "America's Foremothers" introduced the series.
As World War II ended in 1945 and G.I.s returned home, the proportion of women on assembly lines fell from 25 percent to 7.5 percent. Women who had – out of necessity – taken an unprecedented place in the work force were urged back into the home by books like 1947’s Modern Woman: The Lost Sex. The book argued that only a return to traditional values and gender roles could restore “women’s inner balance.”
Female rock and roll pioneers were less interested in restoring “women’s inner balance” than they were seeking an even playing field. Taking cues from Jackie Robinson’s and Larry Doby’s breaking the color line in baseball in 1947, and from President Truman’s desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces with the signing of Executive Order 9981 in 1948, American culture and the music business was at the birth of a new age. As with the birth of ...
For the second year in a row, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum moderated a panel at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX.
On March 18, the Rock Hall's panel, A Woman's Work: Changing the Music Industry, traced the history, challenges and changing roles of women working in the music industry. The panel examined the business relationships of booking agents, managers, record label executives and publicists with female artists and the resulting influence of their successes, as well as the future of gender roles in the music industry.
Click here to view photos from the SXSW panel!
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will open a ground-breaking and provocative new exhibit that will illustrate the important roles women have played in rock and roll, from its inception through today. Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power will highlight the flashpoints, the firsts, the best, the celebrated and sometimes lesser-known women who moved rock and roll music and American culture forward. The exhibit is sponsored by PNC and Time Warner Cable. Women Who Rock will open to the public on Friday, May 13, 2011.
To kick off the exhibit’s opening weekend on Saturday, May 14, the Museum’s annual It’s Only Rock and Roll Spring Benefit Concert will feature an all-star lineup including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Wanda Jackson and Cyndi Lauper, both featured in the Women Who Rock exhibit. Additional artists will be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets go on sale to Rock Hall members on Monday, March 28 and to the general public on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.
The exhibition will spotlight more than 60 artists and fill two entire floors of the museum. The exhibit will feature artifacts, video and listening stations, as well as a recording ...