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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Inspired Message and Gift to Rock and Roll

Monday, January 21: 11:30 a.m.
Posted by Greg Harris
Rock Hall salutes the pioneering spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lasting inspiration

Today, January 21, 2013, we welcome visitors to the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, an event that celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. King. There are performances, speakers and admission to the Museum is free. 

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday observance is a time for people to reflect on the accomplishments of the African-American people, including the art form known today as rock and roll. If not for the struggles and sacrifices that Dr. King and his contemporaries made, the voices and musical talents of many African-American artists may not have come to be respected and recognized at the level they are today. 

Naturally, the Rock Hall salutes those visionary musicians who were the genesis of rock and roll – not just on Martin Luther King Day, but every day. King's pioneering spirit is echoed in the music that is the foundation of rock and roll, the foundation of all the Rock Hall celebrates. 

rare Lead Belly acoustic guitar and blues exhibitThe Rock Hall's "Roots of Rock" exhibit highlights the importance of recognizing rock's origins – those true pioneers – including gospel, blues, jazz and R&B, soul, country and folk music ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exhibit, Event

Video: Interview with Bruce Springsteen Biographer Peter Ames Carlin

Tuesday, December 18: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Author and Journalist Peter Ames Carlin discusses his Bruce Springsteen biography, "Bruce."

The first biography of Bruce Springsteen in 25 years to be written with his cooperation, Bruce covers four decades of the musician and Hall of Fame inductee's career in intimate detail. With unprecedented access, biographer and journalist Peter Ames Carlin collected candid interviews with Springsteen, his family and inner circle to weave a rich narrative chronicling the life and times of the Jersey-born rock luminary. 

This month, Carlin spoke at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Library and Archives, part of the Author Series, which brings journalists, critics and scholars to the Library and Archives for free readings and discuss sessions. In this interview, Carlin shares the art of being a biographer, separating objectivity from fandom, how he gained Springsteen's trust, the incredible stories he gathered while researching the book and more.

Learn more about the Rock Hall Library and Archives' collection of Bruce Springsteen materials here.


continue Categories: Inductee, Library and Archives, Education, Exclusive Interviews

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Heart of Gold"

Monday, November 12: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Born on November 12, 1945, Neil Young is one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers. In a career that extends back to his mid-Sixties roots as a coffeehouse folkie in his native Canada, this principled and unpredictable maverick has pursued an often winding course across the rock and roll landscape. He’s been a cult hero, a chart-topping rock star, and all things in-between, remaining true to his restless muse all the while.

Neil Young was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: first as a solo artist in 1995, and again as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997. After being inducted by Eddie Vedder at the 1995 Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, Young performed blistering versions of "Act of Love" and "F*!#in Up." The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's exhibits in Cleveland, Ohio, are home to a number of artifacts from Young's lengthy career, including the earliest known manuscript of his classic tune "Heart of Gold," with lyrics he wrote between December 1970 and January 1971. (pictured below)

Neil Young exhibit at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and MuseumIn the liner notes of his career retrospective Decade, Young said of "Heart of Gold": "This song ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Rare Performances: Simon and Garfunkel Live in 1990

Monday, November 12: 10 a.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Simon and Garfunkel performed "The Boxer" live at the 1990 Hall of Fame Inductions

In 1990, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were inducted as Simon and Garfunkel into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by James Taylor. During their acceptance, Garfunkel noted, "And I want to thank, most of all, the person who has most enriched my life by putting these great songs through me, my friend Paul here." Simon was quick to remark, "Arthur and I agree about almost nothing, but it's true, I have enriched his life quite a bit, now that I think about it."

At the ceremony, they performed “The Boxer,” a song penned by Paul Simon in 1968. The song was released as a follow-up single to their Number One hit, “Mrs. Robinson,” and reached Number Seven on the U.S. charts. The b-side of the single was “Baby Driver,” and the song appeared on their last studio album Bridge Over Troubled Water.  

Simon and Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water albumThe lyrics focus on a person struggling to overcome loneliness and poverty in New York City. It is written in the first-person until the final verse, where it switches to a third-person idea of a boxer, who, despite the effects of “every glove that laid him down or cut him till he cried ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Rare Performances

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Suzanne"

Thursday, September 20: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

When he set his 1966 poem "Suzanne Takes You Down" to music for his 1967 debut album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, the Canadian author-musician found a linchpin between the worlds of pop music and literature and empowered the emerging singer-songwriter sub-genre in the process. First recorded and popularized by urban folk performer Judy Collins, "Suzanne" drew melodically from cabaret and European art song, while its lyrics – inspired by a real woman (Suzanne Vidal), a real city (Montreal) and an imaginary love affair (Cohen's visionary genius) – transformed the everyday details of life into a hallucinatory religious experience. A gently arpeggiated guitar figure rolls like the cosmos around the singer as he murmurs a litany of observations – some crazy, some profound, all of them Suzanne. A contemplation of love and consciousness awash in an acoustic dreamscape, "Suzanne" stood apart from both the psychedelic hard rock and the protest songs of the late Sixties and endures, in hundreds of cover versions, as one of the most compelling songs Cohen has ever written. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Click here to watch Lou Reed induct Leonard Cohen, Cohen's singularly poetic Hall of ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Rock and Roll vs. Censorship

Thursday, August 23: 9 a.m.

Given the recent fervor over Russian feminist punk rock collective Pussy Riot's arrest and subsequent sentencing and incarceration after staging a performance art protest in a Russian Orthodox cathedral, the Rock Hall started thinking about how censorship has always been a hot button issue in rock and roll. What’s happening in Russia now is not terribly far removed from repressive reactions to the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950s, and reactions to various other manifestations of the artform throughout its history.

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich said this in her closing statement at the group’s trial: “On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial.”

The National Coalition Against Censorship (with thanks to Eric Nuzum) notes these milestones in the infamous history of music censorship. Many of these milestones are covered in the Museum’s Don’t Knock the Rock exhibit, a video-driven exhibit about the protests against rock and roll ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit

Summer in the City: Interview with Sharon Van Etten

Tuesday, August 21: 9:33 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Sharon Van Etten performs live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

With her 2009 debut album, Because I Was in Love, New Jersey–native Sharon Van Etten captured the attention of audiences, critics and musicians, who were drawn to her intimate musical portraits etched with introspective lyrics and varied arrangements. Since Van Etten's acclaimed 2010 release Epic, she's played the Pitchfork Music Festival, performed at the Hollywood Bowl with Neko Case, appeared live on the BBC and was recently named a "must-see act" by Rolling Stone. Her latest album, 2012's Tramp, was recorded during a 14-month period of scattered sessions, where the only constant was the garage studio and input of producer Aaron Dessner of the National. Here, the Rock Hall catches up with the singer/songwriter, who shares insights about life on the road, why she loves playing in New York City and what people can expect of her live performances. Sharon Van Etten will headline a free concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 22, 2012, part of the Summer in the City concert series. 

Rock Hall: How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard it before?

Sharon Van Etten: My style ...


continue Categories: Summer in the City, Exclusive Interviews

Rare Performances: Johnny Cash Live in 1992

Thursday, July 5: 3 p.m.
Johnny Cash led an all-star performance of "Big River" at the 1992 Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Late Show with David Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer, moonlighting in his annual turn helming the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony band, calls out the tune: ”This is a song called ‘Big River,’ and it’s in E!” It’s the 1992 induction ceremony, and one of that year’s inductees, Johnny Cash, recorded “Big River” for the Sun label in 1958. The band for which Paul Shaffer called the tune is remarkable in its sheer star power –some fellow 1992 inductees back up Cash, including Booker T. and Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Ronald and Marvin Isley of the Isley Brothers and Sam Moore of Sam and Dave. Past and future inductees also round out the band, including John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival (inducted in 1993), Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones (1989), the Edge of U2 (2005), Little Richard (1986), Carlos Santana (1998) and Isaac Hayes (2002). Edgar Winter backs Cash on sax and Aaron Neville of the Neville Brothers makes an appearance on vocals and percussion. Even with so many stars, Johnny Cash and his song outshine the pantheon onstage. “Big River” was the B-side of a ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Rare Performances, Exhibit, Hall of Fame
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