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Posts by Rock Hall

Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll: "Purple Rain"

Tuesday, June 7: 1:06 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Prince's "Purple Rain" is one of the greatest power ballads in pop-music history. The original version of the song was recorded live in concert at the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue during the filming of Purple Rain and became the third single released from the 1984 soundtrack album.

Over nearly nine minutes, "Purple Rain" builds majestically from solo acoustic guitar to fervent gospel-tinged vocals, from Prince's searing electric guitar solo to a neo-classical coda of piano and orchestral strings. Edited for single release, "Purple Rain" reached Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100 and Number Four on the magazine's R&B singles chart.

The Twin Cities soul man continued to perform "Purple Rain" in concert, most memorably during his galvanizing halftime show at Super Bowl XLI. On February 4, 2007, Chicago journalist Dave Hoekstra wrote, "Prince played to the biggest audience of his life - 140 million television viewers - and he delivered like Peyton Manning."

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will celebrate Prince Day on Tuesday, June 7 with "Let's Go Crazy: A Prince Dance Party." The free event will feature live DJs, food, drinks, costume contests, trivia and more.


continue Categories: Inductee

Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll: "A Day in the Life"

Wednesday, June 1: 4:20 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Beatles Sgt Pepper Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

A look at a few items from the Beatles on display inside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

It's virtually impossible to overstate the initial impact of "A Day In The Life". Not simply a climax to the revolutionary Sgt. Pepper's album, its position following the reprise of the title track separated it from the preceding concept.  To many listeners, the Beatles seemed to be saying that was an act. This is where it gets real. Oh boy...

The piece originated as a John Lennon composition with the working title "In the Life Of..." It took shape at EMI's Abbey Road studios early in 1967.  Lennon had a stunning beginning and end, but no middle. McCartney, in an unrelated effort, had already written middle. His 'woke up, fell out of bed' fit perfectly between Lennon's halves. "A Day in the Life" is thus a Lennon/McCartney composite rather than collaboration.  In that spirit, McCartney donated another loose jewel, the ethereal tag 'I'd love to turn you on'. The material dictated equally adventurous recording. Consider the majestic, seemingly eternal piano chord which draws song and album to a close. As John, Paul, Ringo Starr and ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Tuesday, May 24: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Bob Dylan Times they are a Changin lyrics

As detailed in Clinton Heylin's biography Behind the Shades, musician Tony Glover visited Bob Dylan's New York apartment in early October 1963 and stumbled across the lyrics to a new song, "The Times They Are A-Changin'." When Glover expressed reservations about the line "Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call," Dylan countered, "Well, you know, it seems to be what the people want to hear."

Dylan had recorded a publishing demo the previous month and recorded the song officially on October 24. Though the Times They Are A-Changin' album wasn't released until mid-January 1964, Dylan performed the song in concert throughout the fall of 1963.

His ambivalence about the song colors his divergent recollections. Discussing "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in the notes for the mid-Eighties Biograph retrospective, Dylan stated, "This was definitely a song with a purpose. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and for whom I wanted to say it to.... I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, ya know, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way....I had to play this song the same night that President Kennedy died. It ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit

Essential Listening from the 2016 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees

Friday, April 8: 1:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, NWA, Bert Berns Cleveland

The Rock Hall's award-winning education department debated, arm-wrestled and ultimately high-fived their way into answering one impossible question: what song is each 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's definitive track? A tall order, to be sure, but here goes it:

Deep Purple – "Smoke on the Water" (1972)
Seriously. That riff. Who can't hum it? Formed in London in 1968, Deep Purple embraced the sounds of progressive rock, psychedelia-influenced blues and heavy metal, but the group of musicians always fit squarely within the hard rock genre that they helped solidify. Back to that guitar riff – a distinctive, repeated melody with a driving rhythm that builds a song's energy. The opening to Purple's "Smoke on the Water" is arguably the most famous riff in rock history. All credit to guitar extraordinaire Ritchie Blackmore, who took four simple chords and transformed it into a monster of a melody. But it wasn't just the notes. The rhythm of the riff is equally important: Blackmore mutes—or forcibly stops—the chords strategically to highlight the song's backbeat, which anticipates Ian Paice's drumbeat. Add a liberal dose of distortion to Blackmore's guitar and boom!: hard rock history ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Event, Hall of Fame

The Surprising Stories Behind Four Bowie Classics

Monday, January 11: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

David Bowie Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Most Popular David Bowie Songs

It's rare to talk of an artist truly being without equal, but that's exactly who David Bowie was. A remarkable visionary, Bowie was a font of wild creativity, a transformative presence constantly evolving to address and help define our times. His art entertained, challenged and enlightened us all - and that will be an enduring legacy celebrated for many generations to come.

With tributes to the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee powering in from around the world, we take a look at the stories behind four classic David Bowie songs and fan favorites: "Fame," "Space Oddity," "Changes" and "Ziggy Stardust."

David Bowie Young Americans album the story of David Bowie's "Fame" recording

David Bowie and John Lennon Break into "Fame" ... and Lennon Forgets It

Two weeks after finishing the mix on a David Bowie album called The Gouster, one of the producers, Tony Visconti, got a call from the artist: "David phoned to say that he and John Lennon had got together one night and recorded this song called "Fame." I hope you don't mind, Tony, but it was so spontaneous and spur of the moment... He was very apologetic and nice about it, and he said he hoped I wouldn't mind...I said that it ...


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

Songs That Shaped Rock: David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust"

Thursday, January 7: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

David Bowie Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars Album Cover David Bowie Rock Hall

Who was Ziggy Stardust, anyway? According to Bowie: "''Ziggy' was my Martian messiah who twanged a guitar. He was a simplistic character...someone who dropped down here, got brought down to our way of thinking and ended up destroying his own self. Which is a pretty archetypal story line."

As Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bowie prepared to record the song for an album provisionally called Round And Round, he motivated his musicians by telling them, basically, to think Jimi Hendrix. With lyrics about a star with a "screwed-down hair-do" who "played it left hand," "jiving us that we were voodoo," who took it all too far "but boy could he play guitar," how could anyone not have thought of Jimi?

But the song suggested a whole new concept. When the album now titled The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released in June 1972, RCA promoted it with the slogan "David Bowie Is Ziggy Stardust." Not the catchiest slogan, though it did much to up the intrigue.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, David Bowie exhibit 1972 Ziggy Stardust costume

A month later, when DJ Kenny Everett attempted to introduce Bowie at a London concert, the androgynous figure at center-stage corrected him: "I'm ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Remembering Hall of Fame Inductee Allen Toussaint

Thursday, November 12: 3:34 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Allen Toussaint inducted into Hall of Fame in 1998 by Robbie Robertson

Allen Toussaint was one of New Orleans' great musical giants. “He was a great and tremendously versatile musician, a real gentleman and one of the nicest people I’ve ever known,” said Hall of Fame Inductee Randy Newman. 

He was a gifted arranger, deft producer, engaging performer and masterful record executive. But perhaps most remarkably, he was among the rare songwriters whose musical vocabulary – though singularly recognizable – translated to myriad styles and elevated the artistry of musicians around the world.

"New Orleans and the world has lost a true musical genius," wrote Trombone Shorty on his Facebook wall. "Allen will always be one of the founding fathers of what New Orleans sounds like; he was a tremendous friend and mentor to me and other musicians in New Orleans. Everything I do is influenced by my musical upbringing in New Orleans – and Allen was a huge part of that. I thank him so much for it, and for all that he did."

His piano on Fats Domino records inspired the likes of Elton John. He produced records for Bonnie Raitt. He toured with Little Feat. He arranged the memorable horns for the Band's Last Waltz. He worked with Otis Redding ...


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

Free Download: "Smokey Robinson in Song" Infographic

Friday, November 6: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Click the image below to downland the FREE full-size Smokey Robinson infographic!

free Smokey Robinson infographic Motown and Smokey Robinson history biggest songs and career highlights illustrated Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

What songs define the career of Smokey Robinson? What are Smokey Robinson's most important tracks? From one of Smokey Robinson's first songwriting collaborations with Motown impresario Berry Gordy in 1959 to the Number Two 1981 pop hit "Being With You," this illustrated history and timeline of key musical moments in Smokey Robinson's career showcases the enduring impact of his music.

As part of its Digital Classroom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's education department provides an introduction to rock history as told through the songs that shaped rock and roll.  Students and teachers can explore and find tools, strategies and resources including lesson plans, listening guides and exclusive multimedia content, including infographics like the one featured above.


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Education
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