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Today In Rock: Jimmy Page is Born

Monday, January 9: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

On January 9, 1944, Jimmy Page was born in England. A talented multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, Page is best known for his incomparable guitar virtuosity, and is one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: in 1992 as a member of the Yardbirds and in 1995 as a founding member of Led Zeppelin.

Page picked up his first guitar at a young age, seeking to emulate rockabilly guitarists of the Fifties, such as Scotty Moore and James Burton. His appreciation and tastes quickly expanded to include folk, blues and skiffle, and he would play in a band that favored the latter. 

By the Sixties, Page was an in-demand session musician, playing on songs for Donovan ("Hurdy Gurdy Man"), Them ("Gloria") and the Who ("I Can't Explain"), among others. Page joined the Yardbirds in the mid Sixties, for a period sharing the stage with friend and fellow guitarist Jeff Beck, who had replaced Eric Clapton on lead guitar. "You'd listen to Jeff along the way, and you'd go - wow, he's getting really, really good," said Page during Jeff Beck's 2009 Hall of ...


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Album Notes: Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash"

Wednesday, January 11: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Despite the subtitle of Johnny Cash's 1963 compilation album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash, the 12 tracks more accurately represent a nicely curated assemblage of singles and recordings from the Man in Black's late Fifties to the early Sixties catalog. As an undisputed legend of American song, a titanic figure on par with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly and Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash arguably sang more types of songs, including folk, country, blues and gospel, than any of his peers or predecessors – and this album illustrates that versatility.

Although present at the genesis of rock and roll as one of the earliest signings to Sam Phillips' Sun Records in 1955, Cash recorded for nearly three decades with Columbia Records, a fruitful period that produced an estimated 1,400 songs. Cash's 16th album, Ring of Fire did, in fact, feature some of his best material, and on the week of January 11, 1964, it became the Number One album on Billboard's new Country Album chart.

The title track, "Ring Of Fire," written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, is indicative of the idiosyncratic genius that's a hallmark of Cash's songwriting, with its ...


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Today In Rock: Bob Marley Is Born

Monday, February 6: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bob Marley (2/6/45 – 5/11/81)

Born on February 6, 1945, Bob Marley was reggae's foremost practitioner and emissary, embodying its spirit and spreading its gospel to all corners of the globe. His extraordinary body of work embraces the stylistic spectrum of modern Jamaican music – from ska to rock steady to reggae – while carrying the music to another level as a social force with universal appeal. Few others changed the musical and cultural landscape as profoundly as he did. "He wanted everything at the same time and was everything at the same time: prophet, soul rebel, Rasta man, herbs man, wild man, a natural mystic man, ladies' man, island man, family man, Rita's man, soccer man, showman, shaman, human – Jamaican!" said U2 frontman Bono during his 1994 induction of Marley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

There’s no question that reggae is legitimately part of the larger culture of rock and roll, partaking of its full heritage of social forces and stylistic influences. In Marley’s own words, “Reggae music, soul music, rock music – every song is a sign.” His lyrics mixed religious mysticism with calls for political uprising, and Marley delivered them in a passionate, declamatory voice.

Marley was a ...


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Beatlemania Comes to the United States

Monday, February 3: 10:15 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Beatles – "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

By December 1963, England had enjoyed nearly a year of Beatlemania. The Fab Four – George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – had sold millions of records for EMI's Parlophone imprint. The group’s first single, “Love Me Do”/”P.S. I Love You,” briefly dented the U.K. Top 20 in October 1962, but their next 45, “Please Please Me,” formally ignited Beatlemania in their homeland, reaching the Number Two spot. It was followed in 1963 by three consecutive chart-topping British singles: “From Me to You” “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They conquered the U.K., even inducing a classical music critic from the Sunday Times to declare them “the greatest composers since Beethoven.” Moreover, they were the greatest rockers since the composer of “Roll Over Beethoven” – Chuck Berry. Still, success in America remained elusive for manager Brian Epstein and his young charges, as Capitol – EMI's American label – refused to release the Beatles' first four British singles, one label executive noting, "We don't think the Beatles will do anything in this market." Everything would change with "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Be part of the Beatles 50th Anniversary Celebration ...


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Today In Rock: Detroit Declares "Aretha Franklin Day"

Thursday, February 16: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Aretha Franklin has her day in Detroit

By February 1968, Aretha Franklin had established herself as among the world's premier recording artists, her genre-spanning recordings achieving commercial and critical acclaim, and appealing to mixed-race audiences around the world. The previous year had seen the release of I Never Loved A Man the Way I Love You, her triumphant Atlantic Records debut produced by Jerry Wexler and recorded with an ace backing band at Rick Hall's Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The landmark soul recording included Franklin's righteous re-working of Otis Redding's "Respect," which rose to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100, and the inspired candor and groove of the album's title track. That same year, Wexler and engineer Tom Dowd worked with Franklin on her sophomore effort for Atlantic, Aretha Arrives, which included the hit single "Baby I Love You," peaking at Number Four on the Billboard Hot 100. Less than a year later, in January 1968, Lady Soul arrived, featuring "Chain of Fools" and "A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)," the latter written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Both singles charted in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10. It was in 1968 that legendary deejay ...


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Remembering Jim Marshall

Thursday, April 5: 1:38 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Jim Marshall's gift to rock and roll

The world of rock and roll lost one of its loudest pioneers on Thursday, April 5, 2012, when Jim Marshall died at the age of 88. 

Born in 1923 in West London, Dr. Jim Marshall, OBE, led his namesake amplifier company for the past 50 years, quite literally channeling the sound of rock and roll guitar. Dubbed "the Father of Loud," Marshall holds a singular place in the pantheon of innovators who developed the instruments and tools that provided the earliest rock and roll players the mechanisms needed to shape a once nascent genre. Along with Leo Fender, Seth Lover and Les Paul, Marshall was among the great patriarchs of the rock and roll sound we've grown to appreciate, cheer, love, emulate and worship.

Marshall used earnings from his days as a drum instructor to open a music shop in the early 1960s, where, as the story goes, his customers included such seminal guitarists as the Who's Pete Townshend. He and other budding guitarists in London would plant the seed of an idea for a guitar amplifier that undercut its American counterparts in price and delivered a signature tone not found in the market.

Whereas rival Fender ...


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Remembering Dick Clark

Wednesday, April 18: 4:07 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Dick Clark (11.30.29 – 4.18.12)

1993 Hall of Fame Inductee and famed host of American Bandstand, Dick Clark, passed away on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. He was 82.

Affectionately known as “America’s oldest teenager,” Clark was significant in transforming the record business into an international industry. As host of American Bandstand, Clark provided many acts with the opportunity to reach a national audience via television, spreading the gospel of rock and roll to teenagers across the country.

Born Richard W. Clark in 1929, he entered the music business as a sales manager for an upstate New York radio station at age 17. In 1952, he began doing a radio show ("Caravan of Music") at WFIL in Philadelphia. The station’s TV affiliate had a teen-oriented show called Bandstand that was taken over in 1956 by Clark. He was such an affable, magnetic host that Bandstand was picked up for national distribution by ABC in 1957. With Clark as businessman, personality, music lover and host, American Bandstand catapulted to popularity and, in 1996, celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Although his demeanor was low-key and agreeable, Clark did not shrink when it came time to defend rock and roll. He stood up for the music when it ...


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Remembering Levon Helm

Thursday, April 19: 3:59 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Levon Helm (1940-2012)

The only non-Canadian member of the Band, Levon Helm was known for his deeply soulful, country-accented voice and his creative drumming style, which was highlighted on many of the Band's recordings, including "The Weight,” "Up on Cripple Creek,” "Ophelia" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Helm was born in Marvell, Arkansas, and grew up in Turkey Scratch, a hamlet west of Helena, Arkansas. He saw Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys when he was six and decided to become a musician. He began playing the guitar at the age of eight, and he took up drums shortly thereafter. After graduating from high school, Helm was invited to join rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins' band, the Hawks. Shortly after Helm joined the Hawks, the group moved to Toronto, Canada, where, in 1959, it signed with Roulette Records. In the early 1960s, Helm and Hawkins recruited an all-Canadian lineup of musicians: guitarist Robbie Robertson, bassist Rick Danko, pianist Richard Manuel and organist Garth Hudson. In 1963, the band parted ways with Hawkins and started touring under the name Levon and the Hawks and, later, as the Canadian Squires before finally changing back to the Hawks. Then, in 1965, Bob ...


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