CLEVELAND :: Blog
Monday, March 19: 4:30 p.m.
Bill Haley and Elvis Presley
On Thursday, October 20, 1955, at approximately 1:45 pm, 20-year-old Elvis Presley’s rebel yell of “Wellll, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight!” smacked off the auditorium walls of Brooklyn (Ohio) High School, as cameras from Universal – International Pictures filmed, in color, the flashpoint of the birth of rock and roll.
This unseen footage, know today as The Pied Piper of Cleveland, remains the lost, Holy Grail of rock and roll. But not necessarily because of Presley’s performance, one of his first out of the South, which by most eyewitness accounts wasn’t so spectacularly mind-blowing, or by the appearances of the other, more established acts on the bill. The Pied Piper of Cleveland retains its mystery and allure simply because it has eluded capture for so many years, and because its producer and star, Cleveland top jock Bill Randle, made sure never to answer questions about the film's fate candidly, never letting its tantalizing specter fade from the rock and roll consciousness.
For the last eight years, I've dedicated a considerable amount of time peering through nearly 60 years of Randle's smoke and mirrors, attempting to discern exactly what transpired ...
Monday, February 27: 2:56 p.m.
Spinderella meets with girls in the Sisterhood program
Recently, a group (Sisterhood) from West Side Community House in Cleveland's Sisterhood program visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum during one of the Museum's education programs. Here, Allison McClain, youth services director at the West Side Community House, explains how music and education come together in the Sisterhood program, and how a special visit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum made for an exciting experience for the girls in the program.
Sisterhood is an after school and summer program at West Side Community House for girls ages 10-15, and girls ages 16-18 can apply to the program as mentors. Sisterhood began as a pilot program in 2008 with a Call to Prayer grant from United Methodist Women. The mission of Sisterhood is to prepare girls for womanhood and their life beyond. Since 2008, the Sisterhood program has served hundreds of girls from the east and west side of Cleveland, providing girls with a safe space to talk about real issues and process ways to learn and grow from those issues.
The school year curriculum is divided into five cycles: Social Skills and Self Esteem, Family Support and Outreach, Education and ...
Thursday, January 12: 4 p.m.
Tommy Edwards (center) with the Everly Brothers
Many know that rock and roll was christened in Cleveland, Ohio, when DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase to describe the up-tempo R&B music he was beaming out on his popular radio show. Freed opened the doors for countless artists, and for years was the de facto king of rock and roll. But fewer know about the cadre of revolutionary Cleveland disc jockeys who shared the airwaves with Freed. Among them was Tommy Edwards.
Edwards, who owned a prominent record store, pressed records and was a disc jockey at WERE 1300 AM, was instrumental in bringing Elvis Presley to Cleveland in 1955 for his first performance north of the Mason-Dixon line. Pat Boone headlined the concert, and the supporting bill included Bill Haley and the Comets, the Four Lads, Priscilla Wright and a largely unknown Presley. It was there that Edwards snapped the famous photograph of Presley with Haley, one of the few times the two met. The show was not held in a grand concert hall or big-ticket venue, but in a suburb of Cleveland at Brooklyn High School. The now mythical performance is rumored to have been captured in vivid Technicolor, and dubbed The Pied Piper ...
Thursday, December 15: 2 p.m.
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 ...
Friday, December 9: 4 p.m.
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 ...
Friday, July 8: 12:45 p.m.
Daphne Carr is a Women Who Rocks and electric bass instructor for the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Columbia University, and the series editor of Best Music Writing. She co-wrote the afterward for Out of the Vinyl Deeps: The Rock Writing of Ellen Willis (University of Minnesota Press 2011), with Rolling Stone.com’s managing editor Evie Nagy and is the co-founder of GirlGroup, a listserv devoted to discussion about women music scholars, critics, journalists, and writers. She recently attended the Rock Hall’s Summer Teacher Institute and visited the Women Who Rock exhibit.
One of the things we teach our girls at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is that “rock” is a verb, and that you can rock anything if you give it your soul, passion, and time. We encourage the girls not just to rock their instruments, but to become passionate listeners and critics of the music and musical culture they have around them, to become brilliant, even-handed and confident in their assessments of what makes music great, and to not unnecessarily shut down others who rock differently.
There may be no greater role model for that kind of ...
Friday, April 9: 9:19 a.m.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is proud to support the Cleveland music scene in featuring performances by local bands every summer, sharing the stage with national artists such as Man Man, Akron/Family and Chairlift during the Museum’s Summer Sessions concert series. The city’s wide array of artists perform just about every genre of music, and the bi-annual Cleveland Lottery League at the Beachland Ballroom is just one more way the power of music proves to bring people together.
Two years ago something completely original, completely Cleveland, and very special happened when 144 area musicians got together in a way never imagined before as part of the first ever Cleveland Lottery League. Essentially a community art project like no other, 33 all-new bands were formed, their efforts culminating with a concert for something the League was calling, and very aptly so, THE BIG SHOW 2008.
I was there the night of THE BIG SHOW 2008, and no exaggerated-filled explanation written here can truly capture the civic pride and sheer magic of what was presented that night.
Now, two years later, we are one day away from what is planned be a bi-annual event for ...
Thursday, January 28: 12 p.m.
Guest blogger Caryn Rose shares her thoughts with us about her visit to see the Rock Hall’s special exhibit From Asbury Park to the Promised Land and her first tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It’s a funny thing to have watched Bruce Springsteen sitting at the Kennedy Center, with his rainbow ribbon award around his neck, and find yourself standing in front of that very award just a few weeks later, in his exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s even odder that that ribbon is in a room along with the legendary Esquire, and that you can get close enough to the guitar (inside its case, of course!) that you can see that the legend is true, that there’s more glue than wood in some places. It’s in a room with the very jeans that adorned the very ass that graced the cover of Born In The USA, the original handwritten lyrics to “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” (with the “freeze out” written in wriggly letters I assume was meant to convey ice), the very flannel shirt that was on the cover of The River (the cuffs so ...