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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: 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: The Beatles hit Number One with "Come Together/Something"

Tuesday, November 29: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Axl Rose and Bruce Springsteen perform the Beatles' "Come Together" at the '94 Rock Hall Inductions

On November 29, 1969, the Beatles were at the top of Billboard's Hot 100, earning their first two-sided Number One single with "Come Together/Something." It became the Fab Four's 18th Number One single – one more than Elvis Presley's 17, which he reached on November 1 that year with "Suspicious Minds." On the week of November 29, Billboard changed the way it calculated its charts, ranking both sides of double-sided singles in the same position rather than separately. This was key to the Beatles' Number One climb, as the previous week saw "Come Together" fall to Number Seven and "Something" hold strong at Number 3.

"Come Together" and "Something" appeared on Abbey Road, the Beatles' 11th studio album, released in the United States on October 1, 1969. George Harrison's "Something" was the first of his musical compositions to be released as an A-side to a Beatles' single. In Harrison's partial autobiography, I, Me, Mine, he explained of "Something": "This I suppose is my most successful song with over 150 cover versions. My favorite cover version is the one by James Brown – that was excellent." Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Shirley Bassey, and Booker T. and the ...


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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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Otis Redding's Last Day in Cleveland

Friday, December 9: 4 p.m.
Otis Redding

December 9, 1967 was a busy day for Otis Redding. The first stop on his winter tour was Cleveland, Ohio, where he was scheduled to appear on the locally produced, nationally syndicated (in 98 markets around the country) television show Upbeat, as well as perform two concerts at legendary nightclub Leo’s Casino. The singer was eager to get back on the road after a three-month break recovering from surgery for throat polyps. He had just recorded what was to become the biggest and most enduring hit of his career, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Redding started that Saturday at the WEWS studios at 30th and Euclid Avenue for Upbeat rehearsals. Upbeat host Don Webster recalled on the website clevelandseniors.com that typically the show would be rehearsed from about 9 am until noon, working on the technical aspects like blocking and lighting. After that, the production team and talent would break for lunch and come back at 1 pm to do the taping. It would take two to three hours to tape the one-hour show. That show was broadcast at 5 pm, the same day of the taping. Webster never did a lot of pre-interviewing, feeling that ...


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Today In Rock: Alan Freed is Born

Thursday, December 15: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Alan Freed

On December 15, 1921, Albert James Freed – the man who famously christened a radical new form of music as "rock 'n' roll" - was born near Johnston, Pennsylvania. Moving to Salem, Ohio, with his family at age 12, Alan (as he was better known) Freed spent his formative years in the Buckeye State, eventually attending Ohio State, where the campus radio station piqued a fascination with radio that would stay with him through all his days. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

By the early 1950s, Freed had settled in to a new DJ position in Cleveland, playing R&B records during a segment sponsored by friend and local record shop owner Leo Mintz, whose inner city store, Record Rendezvous, was selling many records by burgeoning R&B artists. "I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1950, '51, '52," said noted DJ and rock and roll historian Norm N. Nite during the first Hall of Fame Inductions in 1986. "I listened to Alan Freed playing those records on the Moondog show. I knew at that particular time that  it was something special that was going on." It was during this time that Freed first ...


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Today in Rock: Billy Gibbons is Born

Friday, December 16: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Billy Gibbons / photo by Antti Salonen

On December 16, 1949, guitarist Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top was born in Texas. Together with bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard, Gibbons launched ZZ Top, as the group shared a passion for such blues masters as 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Freddie King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. From the beginning, they took a hard-rocking power-trio approach to the blues, cultivating a new audience for it in the Seventies and Eighties with superior musicianship as well as attitude, style and some devilishly funny songs. They have written about fast cars, fishnet stockings, sharp clothes, TV dinners, cheap sunglasses and “tush.”

"Rock and roll was certainly considered for so long… the stepchild that didn't have any place to go and yet at the same time it was probably the underlining current carrier that so many people depended on," said Gibbons in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame interview. Gibbons translated his love of basic blues, boogie, rock and all things Texas-related into the no-frills approach to songwriting that guided ZZ Top's earliest albums, and evolved into a sound that also embraced a union of Texas blues and Memphis soul. T ...


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Today in Rock: Patti Smith is Born

Friday, December 30: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Patti Smith

Born on December 30, 1946, Patti Smith grew to become a bohemian New York poet and punk rock artiste whose 1975 debut album, Horses, stood in daring, unapologetic contrast to the slick, arena-rock ready production and pretension of the era. Smith's street poetry and her group's garage-band aesthetic formed the foundation on which the later punk rock explosion was predicated. Smith was raised in southern New Jersey, employed in a factory and studied to be a teacher before making the paradigm shift to the art of writing and rock and roll. 

When she arrived in New York in 1967, she connected with fellow art-boho misfits, including photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, playwright Sam Sheppard and music scribe Lenny Kaye. She and Kaye brought music and poetry together, giving Smith's poignant perspective a soundscape to build upon. It was the seed for the Patti Smith Group, which formalized their union of poetry and rock with a nearly two-month house gig at CBGB in early 1974. Early on, Smith turned to American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis.

"When I came to Clive, I was really awkward, arrogant, couldn't really sing. I had pretty clumsy movements," said Smith ...


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