The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Cleveland Rocks


Cleveland earned its place on the rock and roll map in the early Fifties when local deejay Alan Freed was the first to call the R&B music he was playing on his nightly radio show “rock and roll.” Freed also promoted what is considered to be the very first rock and roll concert, which was held at the Cleveland Arena on March 21, 1952. In the Sixties, Cleveland fostered such local talent as the Outsiders, the O’Jays and the James Gang, and the nationally syndicated Upbeat Show served as a major launching pad for numerous artists.

In the early Seventies, the Raspberries, Circus and Glass Harp made their mark nationally. The Dead Boys and Pere Ubu exploded out of Cleveland and became part of the birth of punk rock and post punk. Radio station WMMS also became a major force in the Seventies, helping break such artists as David Bowie, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen and Roxy Music. Thirty miles south of Cleveland, Akron and nearby Kent produced Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Rachel Sweet and the masters of de-evolution, Devo.               

The Nineties saw the rise of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Macy Gray and LeVert, while rapper and television star Kid Cudi has emerged in the new millennium as a major star.  As Ian Hunter said back in 1979, “Cleveland Rocks!”


Exhibit Details