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Seventies :: Blog

40 Years Later: Guitarist Gary Rossington and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird"

Wednesday, December 4: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Gary Rossington

On December 4, 1951, Gary Rossington was born. One of the founding members and guitarist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rossington played his way into Southern rock history.

This year marks Rossington’s 63rd birthday and also the 40-year anniversary of Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album, (Pronounced 'leh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), featuring the hit song “Free Bird.” The original 1973 version of "Free Bird" was truly wrenching: a nine-minute salute to a departed Southern brother Duane Allman, highlighted by Ronnie Van Zant's mournful vocals and relentless soloing from Allen Collins and Gary Rossington. (Skynyrd's trademark three-lead guitar lineup hadn't crystallized yet.) Rossington’s instrument of choice was his 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar that is now on display in the Museum’s Architects of Rock exhibit. Fifties-era Gibson Les Paul guitars are among the most sought-after and costly guitars in the rock world, and when Rossington was finally able to purchase a 1959 model, he named it after his beloved mother Berneice. Rossington played slide guitar on “Free Bird.” (pictured below: Gary Rossington 1959 Gibson Les Paul, on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum)

Despite saturation radio play since its first appearance ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Piano Man"

Wednesday, May 9: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Billy Joel's "Piano Man" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Cold Spring HarborBilly Joel's debut solo album, failed to make a strong impression upon its release in 1971. Worse still, it was released with a curious mastering gaffe that sped up songs and altered the pitch of Joel's vocals. Frustrated and seeking a change in scenery, Long Island native Joel packed his bags for Los Angeles. There he took any and every gig he could find as a lounge singer/pianist (performing under the name Bill Martin). From these long L.A. nights of cigarette smoke and boozy requests, however, came the inspiration and images for "Piano Man" – the title track of Joel's 1973 album for Columbia Records and one of his signature songs. It stands as a classic of the Seventies singer/songwriter movement. Playing expressive piano, reaching into his upper vocal range, Joel rues his own failings while finding hope and even humor in his interactions with the bar's patrons and staff. An old man, a waitress, Paul the "real estate novelist," Davy "who's still in the Navy" – listeners can imagine them all joining in on the song's indelible chorus: Sing us a song, you're the piano man/Sing ...


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

10 Essential Bob Seger Songs

Sunday, May 6: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bob Seger

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, Bob Seger is one of rock's most potent performers, insightful lyricists and admired vocalists. He was born Robert Clark Seger on May 6, 1945 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he cut his teeth – and first singles for local imprint Hideout – on the Motor City's rough and tumble scene. Seger lived the life of an archetypal rock and roll journeyman, recording such exceptional albums as 1970’s Mongrel while doggedly working the road. When Seger finally broke through, assuming a rightful place among such fellow travelers as the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen, it was sweet vindication for all the years spent in the shadows. Moreover, a string of multiplatinum albums – including Stranger in Town, Against the Wind, The Distance and Like a Rock – kept him on top. As Seger's career approaches the 50-year mark, having released more than 20 studio and compilation albums with sales exceeding 50 million, the Rock Hall looks at 10 essential Bob Seger songs.

1. 2 + 2 = ?

Released in 1968 under the Bob Seger System moniker, "2 + 2 = ?" was Seger's first single for Capitol Records and helped the band further cultivate a ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)"

Wednesday, February 22: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Parliament's "Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock

1997 Hall of Fame inductee George Clinton, the mad genius of funk, launched his assault on music business-as-usual late in the 1960s with a short-lived but seminal R&B quintet called the Parliaments. As writer and producer, Clinton bent the group's post-Motown sound in a direction as smart as it was quirky. The Parliaments officially dissolved after one 1970 album and a major contractual problem; but Clinton, with an eye to the freak flags flown by Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, recreated the group as a band of outsiders complete with their own lingo, costumes, myths, and philosophy ("Free your mind… and your ass will follow"). Transforming himself into Dr. Funkenstein, Clinton cooked up a funk feast that spiked James Brown's gritty gumbo (much of it provided by original Brown musicians like Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker) with heavy doses of psychedelia, and a dash of rock and roll.  No one sounded like Parliament except Funkadelic, a virtually identical group Clinton signed to another label and encouraged to be even more eccentric. Touring "together" with up to 40 members as "A Parliafunkadelicment Thang," the bands became one of the most successful black concert acts of ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Today In Rock: David Bowie is Born

Friday, January 6: 1:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
1996 Hall of Fame inductee David Bowie

Born on January 8, 1947, David Bowie is rock’s foremost futurist and a genre-bending pioneer, chameleon and transformer. Throughout his solo career and in his alliances with other artists - including Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno and Nine Inch Nails - Bowie has positioned himself on the cutting edge of rock and roll. His innovations have created or furthered several major trends in rock and roll, including glam rock, art-rock and the very notion of the self-mythologized, larger-than-life rock star. "More than any other performer in the rock and roll era, David Bowie elevated himself to the role of artist," says Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curator Howard Kramer. "He revolutionized and redefined the role of the frontman."

On the strength of such early albums as Man of Words, Man of Music and The Man Who Sold the World, Bowie became a cult figure to rock fans looking for something new and challenging to fill the post-Sixties void. A driven, polymorphic artist who breaks all the molds, Bowie attracted attention from the beginning for his frequent, fascinating changes of guise and the high quality of his unpredictable music. “I’m the last one to understand the ...


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