The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


Posts by Dr. Lauren Onkey

A Salute to the Father of Modern Gospel: AndraƩ 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

You Better Believe Gospel Shaped Rock and Roll

Sunday, April 5: 10 a.m.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrates gospel music every day at the Museum as one of the essential musical roots of rock and roll. Three gospel performers who have had a profound influence on popular music have been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Mahalia Jackson (pictured above), whose fervent contralto was one of the great voices of the 20th century; The Soul Stirrers, who brought gospel out of local churches to a national audience, setting the pace for gospel and pop vocal groups; and The Staple Singers, who landed gospel on the pop charts with songs that advanced the Civil Rights movement.

Gospel echoes throughout the history of rock and roll. We hear it in the early vocal groups like The Drifters and this year’s inductees The “5” Royales (who started out in North Carolina singing gospel as the Royal Sons Quartet); the Motown sounds of the Temptations, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas; the soul music of legends like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Darlene Love, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Wilson Pickett; and in the message and spirit of The Isley Brothers and Earth Wind & Fire in the 70s; as well as the extraordinary music ...


continue Categories: Event

Remembering 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Ian McLagan

Wednesday, December 3: 5:37 p.m.

The Small Faces and Faces created some of the most inventive and lasting music of their time. Ian McLagan’s Hammond organ provided depth to the soulful aesthetic of the earlier mod group, and color to its later, and rowdier, incarnation featuring Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart.  

After the Faces broke up in 'mid-70s, McLagan went on to a solo career and was an in-demand session musician, working with the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and many others. For the last several years, he led the Bump Band, based out of Austin, Texas.

Just days before the Faces/Small Faces induction into the Rock Hall in 2012, McLagan, Wood, and Kenney Jones visited the newly opened Library and Archives in Cleveland for a book event. The intimate gathering provided a unique insight into the popular 60s and 70s groups. 

The following year, McLagan and they also recently deceased Bobby Keys took the stage at the Annual Music Masters tribute concert honoring the Rolling Stones. 

Mac’s talents and warm personality will be missed by fans, his many friends in music and all of us at the Museum. We were honored to count him as a friend and ...


continue Categories: Library and Archives, Rolling Stones, Inductee

Remembering Saxophone Legend Bobby Keys

Tuesday, December 2: 4:51 p.m.



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 ...


continue Categories: History of Rock and Roll, Event, Rolling Stones, American Music Masters, Education, Exclusive Interviews

Bruce Springsteen Lands an Audition with Columbia Records

Thursday, May 3: 12 p.m.
Bruce Springsteen's big break came in 1972

By the time Bruce Springsteen walked into CBS Studios in New York in May of 1972 to audition for Columbia Records, he’d been playing in rock and roll bands for seven years – from the garage rock/soul hybrid of the Castiles to the thundering guitar jams of Steel Mill to the soul music of the Bruce Springsteen Band. Steel Mill built up a following along the East Coast and even recorded a few demos for Bill Graham in February of 1970. But Springsteen had no experience with record companies or serious recording studios. He was also at a crossroads in his career. Although he’d had local success, he was unsure of his future direction. He signed a management contract as a solo artist with Mike Appel, who encouraged him to develop his songwriting, in hopes of possibly having Springsteen emerge in the popular singer-songwriter mold.

Bruce Springsteen Gibson guitar best album

Pictured: Toby Scott, engineer for many of Bruce Springsteen’s records, purchased the circa 1951 Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar from a Santa Monica, California, pawn shop in 1972, when he was a working musician in the Los Angeles area. He began working as an engineer at Clover Studios in L.A. and kept ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Today in Rock

A Surprise Performance

Thursday, November 10: 3 p.m.
Aretha Franklin on stage with (l-r) Ronald Isley and Dennis Edward

Our agreement with Aretha Franklin for this year’s American Music Masters program was that she would attend the tribute concert but would not perform. Of course, I always hoped that she would decide to sing a song, but I never pressed the issue. After all, hasn’t Aretha given us enough? We were gathered to honor what she has accomplished, not to demand more. We wanted to recognize, in professor Daphne Brooks’ words, “her brilliant body of work as a musician who materially and emotionally connected with mass audiences in complex ways that went unmatched by her peers.” The night’s fantastic performers did her justice and then some, as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Jerry Butler, Dennis Edwards and Ronald Isley, in addition to Cissy Houston, 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominee Chaka Khan, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Twinkie Clark, Carla Cook, Melinda Doolittle and Mike Farris all brought their A-game.

After Dr. Franklin received her honorary degree from Case Western Reserve at the beginning of the evening, she watched the show from the audience with her family. We worked it out that she would return backstage during the last song of Ms. Lauryn Hill ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Event

American Music Masters Moments: Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew

Thursday, October 27: 11 a.m.
Dave Bartholomew dancing during a 2010 American Music Masters event

American Music Masters Moments: Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew is the second installment in a series that shares stories from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters® events through the years. The first post in the series remembered Les Paul. Beginning in 1996 with a tribute to Woody Guthrie, the American Music Masters series has honored artists who've been instrumental in the development of rock and roll with a range of events celebrating their careers. Each AMM brings together musicians from around the world, setting the stage for special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. These are those stories.

For me, the best part of American Music Masters is hearing first-hand stories from the musicians who worked with the honoree. They tell fascinating stories about recording sessions, concerts and late-night card games. When we honored Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew last year, we were able to bring the surviving members of their original band to town: Billy Diamond (bass), Ernest McLean (guitar), and Herb Hardesty (saxophone). It had been years since they all were together, and listening to them sitting around, reminiscing with Dave Bartholomew and Cosimo Matassa, who recorded them all at J&M Studies in New Orleans ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Event, Hall of Fame, American Music Masters, Education, Exclusive Interviews

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 ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters
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