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How Cynthia Robinson Made Sure We Were All Cool

Wednesday, November 25: 11:48 a.m.

I was just an elementary school kid when I first heard “Dance to the Music,” Sly and the Family Stone’s first hit single, in spring 1968. The song was on the radio all the time – if it wasn’t on WIXY or CKLW, the Top 40/pop stations, you just had to dial up to WJMO or WABQ, the R&B/ soul stations, to hear Cynthia Robinson’s cheeky introductory demand:   “Get up and dance to the music! Get on up and dance to the funky music!”

Cynthia Robinson was one half of the horn section of the Family Stone and the de facto MC – that’s MC in the early days of hip-hop sense - the “mic controller” who would punctuate dance tracks with enjoinders to “get up” or “get down” to the music to keep dancers engaged and moving on their feet. Cynthia was doing it 10 years before the Sugarhill Gang or Grandmaster Flash dropped their first beat.

That’s just one more way that Cynthia was ahead of her time, a pioneer, showing the rest of us the way. She was a strong female presence in a band – not a vocalist, as was the usual position ...

continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Exclusive Interviews

Did the Vietnam War Have a Soundtrack?

Tuesday, November 24: 1:52 p.m.
Posted by Doug Bradley

The Animals We Gotta Get Out of This Place Vietnam War songs

Doug Bradley, author of DEROS Vietnam, has written extensively about his Vietnam, and post-Vietnam, experiences. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1970 and served one year as an information specialist (journalist) at U.S. Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV) headquarters near Saigon.

I first became a soldier in a war zone on Veterans Day (November 11) 1970. It’s an irony I’ve wrestled with for 45 years, due in part to the precise timing of U. S. Army tours of duty in Vietnam, which meant that Uncle Sam would send me back home exactly 365 days later — on November 11, 1971.

Needless to say, the date is etched in my mind and will always be. It’s personal, of course, but in a way it’s lyrical, too. I say that because my earliest Vietnam memories aren’t about guns and bullets, but rather about music.

As my fellow “newbies” and I were being transported from Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base to the Army’s 90th Replacement Battalion at Long Binh, I vividly recall hearing Smokey Robinson and The Miracles singing “Tears of a Clown.” That pop song was blasting from four or five ...

continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Event, Jimi Hendrix, Hall of Fame, Education, Exclusive Interviews

Interview: Why Graham Nash left the Hollies and the Start of CSN

Friday, October 16: 10:32 a.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

On October 17, 2015, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland opens its latest exhibit, Graham Nash: Touching the Flame. Pieces from Nash's heroes and inspirations – the Beatles, the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and Duane Allman – and treasures from his time with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash come to life as the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee reflects on the visceral and profound impact of the music and world events on him and those around him.

 Graham Nash Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Inductee new exhibits 2015

In this interview, Graham Nash shares the story of how he left the Hollies and followed his heart to form CSN.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: What were your feelings were about The Hollies and how you had changed over the years? What informed your decision to leave?

Graham Nash:One of them was that I didn't feel that they trusted my need for direction. Every Hollie single that we had made, apart from the first couple made it to the top 10, and that's where we were used to being. We'd bring out a single, it would go into the top 10, that's what we ...

continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Graham Nash, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews, History of Rock and Roll

Blood, Punk and The Curse of The Damned

Friday, August 21: 12 p.m.
Posted by Wes Orshoski

English punk rockers the Damned in 1977 in front of Stiff Records office photo by Ian Dickson

“Wanna die today? Wanna die today?” The Damned’s Captain Sensible and I are standing on a secluded stretch of sidewalk in Croydon, South London, just a stone’s throw from his childhood home, and we’re being mugged.

All in the span of two, maybe three seconds, someone’s unsuccessfully attempted to yank the Canon 5D camera off my shoulder, and now we’ve both spun around and are being barked at by a man gesturing to his left pocket, where he appears to be concealing a blade. “Wanna die today? Wanna die today?” he says as his eyes scan for passersby. 

It only takes Captain Sensible a half-second to realize that, actually, no, today isn’t a good day to die. And he bolts off down the road, disappearing around the corner, all six-plus-feet of him. I quickly realize I’m not going to be able to outrun this guy, so I make a beeline for my rental car parked about 100 yards away. Best I can hope for is to beat him to the car, toss the camera in the back and get the fuck out of there.

We’re told from an early age that if ...

continue Categories: History of Punk, History of Rock and Roll, Exclusive Interviews, Event

Yoko Ono and U2 Unveil Moving John Lennon Tribute

Thursday, July 30: 5:18 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

This week marks the 40th anniversary of John Lennon's deportation order being overturned by the United States government. To mark the occasion, Yoko Ono, Bono and the Edge of U2 were on hand for a ceremony on Ellis Island, where a giant tapestry depicting the island of Manhattan as a yellow submarine with a waving Lennon was unveiled. July 29 was declared John Lennon Day in NYC.

John Lennon United States Green Card 1976 New York City

“They let him stay, and he is still here. Yoko, he is still here,” said Bono during a series of remarks.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono moved to New York in September 1971. When his temporary visa expired in February 1972, the Nixon administration sought to have him deported, using a 1968 conviction for marijuana possession as ammunition. After a years-long battle, Lennon finally won the right to stay in the United States in 1975, receiving his green card in 1976. That green card, pictured above, is among the items featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Beatles exhibit.

"He didn’t sail across the Atlantic in an ocean liner or a yellow submarine. He didn’t come in on a third-class ticket looking for a job in Hell ...

continue Categories: The Beatles, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll

Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco talks Weezer, Springsteen, Journey, Nirvana and AP

Friday, July 24: 12:59 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco interivew APMAS Alternative Press Exhibit Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland, Ohio

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Tell us about some of the artists, bands who really influenced you…

Brendon Urie: Weezer… huge influence on me. I learned to play drums to the blue album [Weezer]. When I got that… I took it from my sister; I just had the cassette, and I remember just popping it in my boom box (that was still a thing, kids) and… I would just put on my really shitty headphones, and just kind of try to like… I had to tape them up, just so that they didn’t move, and just playing along for six hours. I would just listen to that album constantly. So, I mean every one of those songs… I wanted to start surfing, because of [“Surf Wax America”]… I wanted to live how they were describing their songs… how Rivers was, you know… and then later I would learn like, he’s this English major, went to college for literature and stuff… just a super smart guy. So, everything he’s singing about is a personal experience that’s true, and that really, truly affected me and songwriting as I got older. I wanted to do that, I wanted ...

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Six Questions with Vinyl Theatre's Nick Cesarz

Tuesday, July 21: 11:25 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Vinyl Theatre Drummer Nick Cesarz interview and photo Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

For over three years, the Milwaukee quartet Vinyl Theatre have been growing a loyal fan base with frenetic live shows driven by the group's imminently danceable rock. With clear reverence for post-punk sounds of the 80s and earning comparisons to such contemporaries as the Killers and Death Cab for Cutie, Vinyl Theatre released their debut full-length Electrogram on Fueled by Raman in 2014.

The Rock Hall caught up with Vinyl Theatre drummer Nick Cesarz on the eve of his group's live Sonic Sessions concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on July 21, 2014.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Can you describe the moment you knew you wanted to make music or play in a band?

Nick Cesarz: I was very young, maybe 8, and I saw the Blue Man Group for the first time. I even got to meet them. After seeing the show, I wanted to try playing drums. When I reached the 5th grade, my name was picked of a hat to play percussion in the school band. I had some good luck that week!

RRHOF: What was the first album you bought with your own money?

NC: Led Zeppelin ...

continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Exclusive Interviews, Event

A Fan Response to the Death of Chris Squire

Thursday, July 2: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

Chris Squire Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live Interview Jason Hanley 2013

Chris Squire changed the way rock musicians thought about the bass guitar – taking the melodic style established by the Who's John Entwistle and pushing into an entirely new level. His bass had a clean sustained tone that frequently moved back and forth between the high and low registers of the instrument. And all the time Squire was singing beautiful vocal harmony with the rest of the band (and with a completely different melody from the bass). 

I'm the Rock Hall's senior director of education, and I'm also a longtime fan of Yes. I can tell you with ultimate clarity the first time I heard the music of Yes on the radio while I was in high school. I imagine it was the same way that many fans of my age did, through the sound of “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” in 1983. That song has always sounded so modern to me (due in part to the stellar production of Trevor Horn), and a key feature of what hooks you in is the foundational bassline played by Squire: it’s simple, memorable and slides right into the groove. When it finally changes up at the two-minute mark ...

continue Categories: History of Rock and Roll, Today in Rock
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