The sheer emotional impact of Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” sparked my fascination. His squealing guitar effects depicting the incoming descent of bombs that were soon “bursting in air,” grabbed me, especially as intensified on film when Hendrix “lip synched” the resulting cries and screams. His performance makes the abstract so very human. For me Hendrix’s Woodstock anthem of August 18, 1969, remains atop the list of the most powerful performances of Francis Scott Key’s song ever created.
The Woodstock anthem gets even more interesting when compared with the other 40 or so surviving recordings of Hendrix performing the song. They reveal Hendrix’s artistic as well as political evolution and define the critical and patriotic extremes of his expression to place Woodstock firmly in the middle as a combination of both. Here's a look at five incredible Hendrix versions of "The Star Spangled Banner.' Want more Hendrix? Catch Mark Clague going deep on all-things Hendrix at the Rock Hall's Library and Archives on Wednesday, March 25, 2015!
Hendrix first references the anthem melody a year ...
This week, millions of music fans, pop culture mavens and dedicated viewers tuned in to the star-studded 2015 Grammy Awards. Over the course of more than three hours, the ceremony offered up a whirlwind of performances – nearly two dozen, in fact – and there were a handful of awards presented, some to Kanye West's chagrin. Throughout it all, there were many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame connections. Did you catch them all?
AC/DC Goes Down a "Highway to Hell"
Although Aussie rockers AC/DC have taken their unmistakable, hard-charging, loud and fiery brand of music-making around the world for more than 40 years, it was the 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees first time on the Grammy stage. The group opened with new track "Rock or Bust" before segueing into classic rock anthem "Highway to Hell" – the same song they played at their 2003 Hall of Fame Induction. Other familiar nods? Angus Young's signature school boy outfit, one of which is also featured in the Rock Hall's heavy metal exhibit alongside the handwritten lyrics to "Highway to Hell."
Hozier and Annie Lennox cover Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You"
Irish songwriter ...
In the pantheon of rock and roll's greatest guitarists, there is a cadre of fabled axemen who consistently bubble to the top, including such Hall of Fame Inductees as Jeff Beck, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, BB King and Jimmy Page – all artists represented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. And no discussion of six-string masters would be complete without Eddie Van Halen, the innovative firebrand that turned the world of guitar playing on its ear in the late 70s and early 1980s. "I was so used to doing old blues licks with the first three fingers," Van Halen once explained to a reporter. "When I started using my pinky and finding more spread things, that's when I started getting my own style." That style went on to influence millions of budding shredders. Here are five tracks that contributed to that influence:
Guitar Solo, from Live Without a Net (1986)
Van Halen went out with something to prove during the live tour for the 5150 album. With new singer Sammy Hagar, the band had to show fans and critics alike that it could keep rocking without Diamond Dave ...
Discover more amazing Clash stories in the Rock Hall's punk rock exhibit and plan your visit today.
Below is an excerpt from Stealing All Transmissions: A Secret History of the Clash by Randal Doane.
With her Pentax camera in hand, Pennie Smith stepped onto the left wing of the stage of the Palladium, just behind the curtain, and waited for The Clash to return for their encore. It was September 21, 1979, the second of a two-night stint for The Clash in New York City. WNEW-FM, the album-oriented rock station that had recently found felicity in punk and new wave, supplied a live simulcast for the tri-state region. On the opposite stage wing, Richard Neer, the on-air host, gushed: “If you’ve never seen The Clash it’s an experience, I’ll tell you that. I was out front for a bit and it’s so loud. I’m used to loud music but it is loud to the point of real distortion, and the people are just totally enveloped in the music. . . . They’re dancing, they’re jumping up and down and they are just totally into it!” Back onstage, The Clash offered the audience a respite from ...
Recently, former Black Flag frontman, solo artist and writer Henry Rollins shared his top 10 underground songs of all time with Esquire magazine. So what does that have to do with Cleveland's rock history? Turns out, a lot.
Mid-70s Cleveland was the perfect breeding ground for a band like Pere Ubu. The city had seen better days, and amid the post-industrial bleakness, a group of young creative men formed Pere Ubu. "Ohio was one of the most fertile grounds for what could be called underground music. I could make this list only using bands from this state and do just fine," Rollins said. "David Thomas, Pere Ubu's vocalist and leader of the band to this day, has been making records under the Pere Ubu moniker as well as solo for decades. He is one of my favorite performers, and I see him whenever the opportunity presents itself. The band's early singles are now fairly pricey items... What is true of [the Pere Ubu track] 'Final Solution' is true of this initial batch of Ubu. It is visionary stuff from the schools of rock, what would be called punk, and art, all mixing with time, place, and restless ...
Hall of Fame Inductee Ian McLagan was among the most prominent unifying threads that linked the Small Faces – a band of mod rockers who embraced soul and psychedelia in the 60s – to the Faces, a rollicking band of roots rockers who took the 70s by storm. A wickedly talented musician, McLagan's percussive playing, nuanced accompaniment and versatility behind the keys made him integral to shaping the Small Faces/Faces sound across two decades, and his influence continued long after the Faces disbanded in 1975.
On April 12, 2012, while in Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Ian McLagan was joined on stage by former Small Faces/Faces bandmates including guitarist Ronnie Wood and drummer Kenny Jones, while Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall stepped up on lead vocals, filling in for the late Steve Marriott and an ill Rod Stewart. The group ripped through three classics from the Small Faces/Faces oeuvre: "All or Nothing," "Ooh La La" and "Stay With Me."
On October 26, 2013, a once-in-a-lifetime collection of musicians gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Rock Hall's Music Masters tribute to the Rolling Stones. That evening's concert at the Playhouse Square State Theater was anchored by a group of top flight musicians who have performed with the Rolling Stones over their 50-year career and contributed to shaping the band’s extraordinary sound.
Grammy Award-winning drummer Steve Jordan led the house band as musical director, assembling a group of critically-acclaimed musicians, including 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Ian McLagan.
McLagan had played on the Rolling Stones' Some Girls album and toured with the group in 1978, 1981 and 1982.
Among the incredible performers sharing the stage with McLagan that night was the incomparable Bobby Keys, the legendary sax player for Elvis Presley, Joe Cocker, B.B. King and others, including the Rolling Stones. Keys had been recording and touring with the Rolling Stones since 1970, appearing on Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Goats Head Soup, Emotional Rescue and several live albums.
WATCH: In the clip below, Bobby Keys delivers a fiery solo during a jam on the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers cut ...
Bobby Keys was one of the definitive sax players in the history of rock and roll. He played with seminal artists such as Buddy Holly, Del Shannon and Little Anthony and the Imperials, as well as some of the most influential UK bands of the 60s and 70s, including John Lennon.
Keys really was a link between the beginning of rock and roll and the British Invasion. He was also a crucial element of the Rolling Stones’ sound, making his mark on such tracks as "Brown Sugar." He played with the Stones so often and for so long that he’s really a part of the band.
It was a honor to have Keys in Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Annual Music Masters tribute to the Rolling Stones in 2013. He was an essential part of that program. Click here to view pictures from that unforgettable concert, including the time Bobby Keys performed alongside Chuck D. of Public Enemy.
Moreover, Bobby Keys was a genuinely warm, funny big-hearted man who’ll be missed tremendously.
Recorded backstage at the 2013 Music Masters, this video interview with Bobby Keys and Steve Jordan has the musicians trading stories ...