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Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and a Rare Performance at the 2015 Inductions

Monday, April 20: 3:03 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder at Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Although he was being inducted for his incredible legacy of music, 76-year-old Bill Withers also provided among the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony's most endearing and humorous moments. "One other thing crossed my mind," he said accepting his award. "This has got to be the largest AA meeting in the western hemisphere." The thousands in attendance exploded in roars of laughter.

Stevie Wonder inducted Withers, lauding the accomplished musician for emotionally poignant and resonant songwriting, "songs that were for every single culture there is; everyone can relate, somewhere in the world."

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Induction Ceremony Bill Withers and John Legend perform live

Click to see photos from the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 18, 2015!

The man behind classics such as "Lovely Day," "Use Me" and "Lean On Me," Withers provided a long list of thanks to the men and women who supported him throughout his career – including the radio DJs that played the flip side to his early single: "Ain't No Sunshine." 

"Stevie Wonder inducting me in the Hall of Fame is like a lion opening the door for a kitty cat," joked Withers. "Stevie Wonder knows my name and the brother just put me ...


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

Percy Sledge and the Southern Soul Revolution

Thursday, April 16: 9 a.m.

When Percy Sledge first tried to make a record in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the white owner of the area’s first record label refused to work with him. Saying that he preferred to stick with white country and pop artists, the producer slammed the door in the young singer’s face. A few years later, Sledge was the area’s biggest star, with a Number One hit that defined “the Muscle Shoals sound” and helped launch one of the era’s most significant music scenes. Sledge’s spare, aching ballad – the still-iconic “When A Man Loves A Woman” – not only set a musical template for deep soul, but also reflected the unique musical alchemy that made Muscle Shoals and southern soul into an international symbol of cultural change.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Percy Sledge RIP

Crucial to Sledge’s success, and that of Muscle Shoals soul, was his records’ mixture of black and white. He worked with a mostly-white group of young studio musicians, including producer Rick Hall and fellow Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham, who now embraced the chance to cut records with black artists. Additionally, Sledge was one of the great practitioners of the musical hybrid that became known, appropriately enough, as “country-soul.” Sledge’s ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Rolling Stones, History of Rock and Roll

The Rock Hall's Guide to the Essential Bill Withers Songs

Wednesday, April 15: 2 p.m.

In a recording career that lasted only 15 years, but left a lasting legacy, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers mastered the vocabularies of the acoustic singer-songwriter, R&B, disco and even mainstream jazz, while maintaining a distinctive personality as a composer and vocalist. Here are my picks for essential Bill Withers songs.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bill Withers

“Ain’t No Sunshine”
A breakthrough hit from Just As I Am (produced by Hall of Fame Inductee Booker T. Jones), “Ain’t No Sunshine” set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct,  no-frills lyric and in the pocket groove. It was also a bona fide hit, reaching Number Three on the Billboard 100 in 1971.

“Grandma’s Hands”
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you." This song is a tribute to those healing hands.

“Who Is He (and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Event, Hall of Fame

The Rock Hall's Guide to the Essential Lou Reed Songs

Wednesday, April 15: 9 a.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

As both a member of The Velvet Underground and a solo artist, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Lou Reed transformed music forever with his uncompromised and daring artistic vision that has influenced artists for decades, from David Bowie to U2 to Arcade Fire. Here are my picks for Lou Reed essential tracks.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Lou Reed

“Walk on the Wild Side”
Off 1972's Transformer (produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson), “Walk on the Wild Side” was Reed’s first hit after the Velvet Underground broke up and remains his most well know tune till this day. The lyrics of the song told the story of people Reed knew from the Andy Warhol/Factory days, while the iconic bass line has been sampled numerous times in everything from hip-hop to electronica.

“Satellite of Love”
This song was originally demoed by the Velvet Underground in 1970 as a possible track for the Loaded album but was eventually rejected. The lyrics are sung from the point of view of a man who is watching a space launch on TV and simultaneously reflecting on his unfaithful girlfriend. The end of the song features a fantastic vocal arrangement performed by Reed and David Bowie ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Event

A Salute to the Father of Modern Gospel: Andraé Crouch

Sunday, April 12: 9:16 a.m.

“The soulful classics that Pastor Crouch created over the years have uplifted the hearts and minds of several generations and his timeless influence continues to be felt in not only gospel but a variety of music genres.” -President Barack Obama

Picture of gospel legend Andraé Crouch

When Pastor Andraé Crouch passed away in January 2015, the outpouring was remarkable. Artists, elected officials, community leaders and legions of fans flocked to pay tribute to the man known as the “father of modern gospel music.” The response was a testament to the impact of his music over the last 40 years. He created a body of work that drew on contemporary musical styles and sophisticated production to inspire his audience and spread the word of God.

WATCH LIVE: Rock My Soul: A Gospel Music Celebration Honoring Andraé Crouch at 7:30pm ET on April 12, 2015!

Andraé Crouch and his twin sister Sandra were born in the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1942. Their parents, Benjamin and Catherine, were very active in the Church of God in Christ. In 1951, they moved to the San Fernando Valley, where Benjamin Crouch established Christ Memorial Church. Andraé began to play keyboards at age 11, which he attributed to his ...


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

Is "Transformer" Lou Reed’s Best Solo Work?

Friday, April 10: 3 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

The story of Lou Reed Transformer album 1972 art

In 1970, Lou Reed quit the Velvet Underground at the end of a nine-week performance residency at the famous rock club Max’s Kansas City (in New York City), leaving the VU album Loaded recorded but unmixed; and leaving the VU to continue on with none of its original members.

Two years later, Reed released his self-titled, first solo album on RCA records. The album was mostly made up of songs he had written for – and in some cases even performed live with – the Velvet Underground. While the release generated a lot of buzz, it turned out to be a critical and commercial flop. There are some strong songs, but even listening to it today it feels… well, lost. It doesn’t have the bite of the early VU songs like “Heroin,” nor the pop sensibilities of songs like “Sweet Jane.”  So with the album as disappointment to everyone including Reed, what to do next?

Bowie, Ronson and Reed

David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson were longtime fans of the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, so when it was suggested that they produce the next Reed album, they jumped at the chance.

Reed, for his part, was enamored with ...


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The Rock Hall's Guide to the Essential Bill Withers Songs

Thursday, April 9: 5:54 p.m.

TK


“Ain’t No Sunshine”
The song that set the framework for the Bill Withers sound with its sparse arrangement, direct,  no-frills lyric and in-the-pocket groove.
 
“Grandma’s Hands”
“I was one of those kids who was smaller than all the girls. I stuttered. I had asthma. So I had some issues," recalled Bill Withers. "My grandmother was that one person who would always say that I was going to be OK. … When you're a weaker kid, whoever champions you becomes very important to you."  
                                           
“Who Is He(and What is He to You?)”
Just the right undertone of menace and an unrelenting repeated funky riff drives   this testament of a jealous lover home. 
                          
“Lean on Me”
Bill Withers’ first Number One hit took us to church. "It's a rural song that translates across demographic lines,” Withers recalled. “My experience was, there were people who were that way. They would help you out. Even in the rural South, there were people who would help you out even across racial lines. Somebody who would probably stand in a mob that might lynch you if you pissed them off, would help you out in another way."
 
“I Can’t Write ...


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2015 Grammy Awards Deliver Surprise Rock Hall Connections

Tuesday, February 10: 12:28 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Paul McCartney, Rihanna and Kanye West perform together at the 2015 Grammy Awards

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 ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, The Beatles, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Madonna, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
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