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American Music Masters :: Blog

Rock Hall partners with HBO's Treme show for American Music Masters week

Thursday, November 4: 9:41 a.m.
Actor Wendell Pierce will be the emcee at next week's American Music Masters tribute concert.

HBO's Treme debuted in April 2010, as I was starting to shape the Rock Hall's American Music Masters tribute to Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. As a fan of New Orleans music and David Simon's work on The Wire, I looked forward to the show but was skeptical that it could represent the music accurately.  I was blown away by how Simon made music part of the show's very narrative. Simon recruited some of the most important musicians in the city to play themselves, like Uncle Lionel Batiste of the Treme Brass Band, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, and one of our AMM honorees, Dave Bartholomew.  I was so impressed with what Simon created that I wanted it to be part of our project-- a contemporary, compelling depiction of the city post-Katrina, and as good an argument as there is for the power and longevity of New Orleans music.

Wendell Pierce, who stars in Treme as trumpet player Antoine Batiste, will be the emcee for our tribute concert on November 13th at the Palace Theatre. Wendell, a New Orleans native and current resident, has been a devoted activist in the rebuilding of the city since ...


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Dr. John, Fats Domino, and the piano

Monday, November 8: 12:44 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Pictured from top: Fats Domino; Dr. John

Over the past few weeks I have traveled to New Orleans several times and had the chance to see Dr. John perform live at Lafayette Square, play with the band Widespread Panic, and even sit next to him as he played in a small rehearsal studio just west of the French Quarter.  Each time my eyes were fixed on his hands as he moved them effortlessly across the keys.  What an amazing player; Dr. John holds the history of New Orleans piano music in his head and the soul of the sound in his hands.

The reason I’ve seen him so many times is that Dr. John and his band, the Lower 911, will be the house band for the upcoming American Music Masters Tribute to Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew.  It is a perfect combination: Dr. John leading the band that will honor one of the giants of rock and roll piano, Fats Domino.  As you can imagine I have been thinking a lot about the music of New Orleans, the piano style of Fats Domino, and the rhythms of Mardi Gras.  What makes Fats’ music so exciting is the way it blends together several major musical ideas ...


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Now this is the way to start a new year!

Thursday, January 6: 3:24 p.m.
Fats Domino with his 2010 American Music Masters Award.

My favorite Christmas present arrived by email: a photo of a smiling Antoine “Fats” Domino in his home in Louisiana, holding his 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame American Music Masters Award. Domino’s daughter sent it to us in December. We wish Fats could have made it to Cleveland in November, but we all stayed in touch over the week with photos and streaming video and text messages, so it felt like Fats and his family were close by. This year’s program honoring Fats and Dave Bartholomew was a great success—it brought together all the Museum’s resources: exhibits, classes for students and adults, distance learning classes to New Orleans, interviews, a conference, and a course the great tribute concert—topped off with the Rebirth Brass Band playing in the lobby of the Palace Theater. We just couldn’t say good night too soon! You can see photos from the week and some videos from the conference here.

The New Orleans music magazine Off Beat will be honoring Dave Bartholomew with a Lifetime Achievement Award later this month, and they just published a great story on Dave and American Music Masters, written by Domino’s biographer ...


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Our wonderful time with Jerry Ragovoy

Monday, July 18: 4:51 p.m.
Jerry joined us for the American Music Masters tribute to Janis Joplin.

We were saddened to hear the news about the death of Jerry Ragovoy. Jerry was one of the greatest rock and soul songwriters and producers. His passionate, beautifully crafted songs continue to resonate: “Time is On My Side,” “Stay With Me,” “Get It While You Can,” “Ain’t Got Nobody to Give It To” and “Piece of My Heart,” to name just a handful. I was honored to interview Jerry at the Rock Hall’s American Music Masters tribute to Janis Joplin in 2009. He shared some great stories about how he wrote songs and what drew him to rhythm and blues. He talked extensively about working with Joplin (she recorded five of his songs: “Piece of My Heart,” “Cry Baby,” “Get It While You Can,” “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and “My ...


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2011 American Music Masters Honoree: Aretha Franklin

Tuesday, August 23: 7 a.m.
Honoring the "Queen of Soul"

In 1987, Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – a fitting tribute to the "Queen of Soul," the woman who for more than 50 years has been the expressive, passionate voice of soul music. More than 20 years later, Franklin continues to be a driving force in the world of music, and I am thrilled to announce her as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's 2011 American Music Masters honoree. 

 

The American Music Masters series will honor Ms. Franklin with a weeklong celebration beginning on October 31, featuring special events presented by the Rock Hall and series partner Case Western Reserve University.

 

Aretha Franklin is a masterful singer, pianist, performer and arranger, whose catalog of recordings highlights a brilliant versatility that spans myriad genres: gospel, jazz, blues, pop standards, rock, funk – the list goes on. She constantly breaks down boundaries between styles of American music, revealing the connections between them, across generations. In the words of Princeton University professor Daphne Brooks, she has “reinvented the fabric of our musical culture.” In the process, she has inspired millions of people around the world to sing, to speak, to climb ...


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From Breaking Ground to Ground Breaking: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Thursday, September 1: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Pete Townshend at June, 7, 1993 groundbreaking ceremony.

In September 1995, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors in Cleveland. It was a dream more than a decade in the making and one that continues to grow as the Hall prepares to open its Library and Archives in 2012, advancing its mission to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music.

The Hall of Fame and Museum was the brainchild of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, the nonprofit organization launched in 1983 and led by Atlantic Records Founder and Chairman Ahmet Ertegun, along with Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, attorney Allen Grubman, manager Jon Landau, record executives Seymour Stein and Bob Krasnow, and attorney Suzan Evans. The group sought to establish an organization that recognized "the people who have created this music which has become the most popular music of our time.”

Officials from Cleveland and the State of Ohio approached the Foundation in 1985 and suggested the construction of a major museum. For more than a year, the Foundation considered Cleveland and numerous other cities, including New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Memphis and Chicago ...


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Remembering the Creole Beethoven: Wardell Quezergue

Wednesday, September 7: 1 p.m.
Wardell Quezergue

We were saddened to learn about the passing of the “Creole Beethoven,” Wardell Quezergue, yesterday in New Orleans. Quezergue, 81,  was one of the giants of New Orleans music – one of those folks who is responsible for so many great, funky records that define the city’s distinctive rhythm and blues. He arranged countless classics: Professor Longhair’s “Big Chief,” The Dixie Cups’ “Iko Iko,” King Floyd’s “Groove Me,” Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” and Dorothy Moore’s “Misty Blue,” to name just a few. In 1992, he did the arrangements for Dr. John’s “little history of New Orleans music,” Goin’ Back to New Orleans. He also co-wrote “It Ain’t My Fault,” a staple of New Orleans’ brass bands. In 2000, he released the extraordinary A Creole Mass, a “prayer of Thanksgiving” that he began writing while stationed in Korea. He had been pulled from the front line to work as an arranger for the army band. His replacement was killed in action. He finally completed the work, a masterpiece for orchestra, chorus, brass band and vocals.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Education Director Jason Hanley and I had the honor of meeting ...


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Memorializing Les Paul

Tuesday, September 13: 1:51 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Les Paul memorial in Waukesha, Wisconsin

This past Saturday, I was fortunate to be in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to take part in the dedication of a memorial to Hall of Fame inductee Les Paul. The memorial is in Prairie Home Cemetery, where the legendary guitarist is buried. The event was attended by Les’ family and friends, including his son Russ. Michael Braunstein, Les’ longtime manager and the executive director of the Les Paul Foundation, served as the emcee of the event. Others in attendance included Lou Pallo, who played guitar in the Les Paul Trio for almost 30 years, Henry Juszkiewicz, the chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar, and Ron Sturm, the owner of the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, where Les played shows every Monday night, from 1995 until his death in 2009.

All of the speakers heaped tons of praise on Les. His son said, “He was a person who hit a lot of hearts,” and that was clear from the commentaries. Lou Pallo said: “He was a genius. He was a great, great, great musician.” Gibson’s Juszkiewicz also called Les a “genius,” and he talked about his inventiveness. Speaking about the house where Les lived in New Jersey, the Gibson CEO ...


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