The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


Exhibit :: Blog

Celebrating 75 Years of Elvis

Wednesday, January 6: 8:28 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
Photo of Elvis’ Jukebox currently on display at the Rock Hall courtesy of the Rock Hall/Design Photo

We’re approaching another landmark rock and roll anniversary. This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth. It’s one of those moments that make you wonder what would have happened had he not died so young. Several of Elvis’s contemporaries are alive and still working. What would he have done in the last three decades? Would he have finally toured outside the U.S.? Would he have gone back to making films? Would he have told his story in his own words? I mention that last one because Elvis never sat for an in-depth interview in his life.

There’s a lot of myth surrounding Elvis Presley. So much of it tends to dwell on sensationalism and the myth of myth itself. If you have any interest in finding out more I about him, I strongly urge you to read the books Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, Peter Guralnick’s extraordinary two-volume biography of Presley. Better yet, listen again to what made Elvis the legend he is, the music. Pick up a copy of Elvis at Sun, the 2004 compilation of his seminal recordings done with Sam Phillips in Memphis between July ...


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Todd Rundgren Unveils His New Spotlight Exhibit and Meets with Fans

Monday, September 14: 5:02 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
Hundreds of fans line up to meet Todd Rundgren and members of Utopia at the Rock Hall.

photo caption two: Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock Hall (right), poses with Todd Rundgren in front of his exhibit.

Labor Day was an exciting day for Cleveland and the Rock Hall. Todd Rundgren came to town to kick off the first two dates of his A Wizard / A True Star album tour.  While in town, he also wanted to come by the Museum for the unveiling of his new spotlight exhibit which features a number of artifacts to tell the story of his career, including his Back to the Bars stage outfit and Patti Smith’s “Star Fever” poem, which was included in the first issues of A Wizard / A True Star. In addition to seeing his exhibit, Todd took time to see and meet his fans.

It was an exciting time in the Museum for fans to see an artist up close and an incredible amount of people stopped in for a photo and autograph.  It’s hard to really capture the excitement of the people who came to the Rock Hall from all around the world to meet Todd Rundgren.

Along with Todd were his two of his band mates from Utopia, Kasim Sulton and ...


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The Story Behind Inductee Pete Seeger's Donation to the Museum

Friday, February 5: 4:35 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
Pete Seeger's banjo head arrived at the Rock Hall yesterday.

Curatorial Director Howard Kramer shares insight on his conversation with Seeger and why he decided to put his infamous banjo head in the Museum instead of on auction.

On Monday, my co-worker in the membership department, Linda Worden, called me to say that she had Pete Seeger on the line and he wanted to speak with me about donating something. I could hear the excitement in her voice about having a conversation with a legend like Pete. It’s a wonderful perk of working at the Rock Hall. She transferred the call to me and there was Pete, spry and warm as usual. Last fall he celebrated his 90th birthday with a sold-out all-star show in his honor at Madison Square Garden. He has been a part of our lives for so long you could easily take for granted his contributions to music and society. Pete has been a leading force in American folk music long before there was any sort of folk revival. His tireless work for social justice and environmental causes is virtually unparalleled.

Back to the phone call. Pete explains to me that he ...


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Fashion Meets Rock and Roll

Friday, February 12: 12 p.m.

Assistant Curator Meredith Rutledge discusses late fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s influence on the look of rock and roll

When talking about rock and roll’s relationship to the world of fashion, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame chief curator Jim Henke said, “virtually every artist defines (themselves) as much by the way they look as by the music they play.”

It’s been said that fashion and style are the natural visual counterparts to creative musical expression. Rock and roll artists have had a long relationship with the world of high fashion — picture Elvis Presley’s iconic gold lamé suit designed by Nudie, then fast forward to Madonna’s equally iconic gold bustier designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.  Fashion designers like Gaultier, Thierry Mugler and  Gianni Versace have all become synonymous with the branding of rock stars like Madonna, Mick Jagger and Elton John. That’s why the tragic death of clothing designer Alexander McQueen, whom Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour called “one of the greatest talents of his generation,” has especially resonated here at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. McQueen was a favorite designer of the rock world, creating red carpet, stage and album cover looks ...


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The Making of the 2010 Inductees Exhibit

Tuesday, March 16: 3:16 p.m.
ABBA’s Bjorn Ulveaus’ pair of white platform boots.

Inductions are always an exciting time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, made even more so when a new inductee is in the house!  Terry Sylvester, lead singer of 2010 inductees the Hollies, made an appearance on the Museum’s Main Stage on March 10. Sylvester performed six songs, including Hollies’ hits “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress) ,” “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and “Bus Stop.” Inspired by the Rock Hall’s featured Bruce Springsteen exhibit, Sylvester performed the Hollies’ version of Springsteen’s “The Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).”  Sylvester reminded the enthusiastic mid-day audience that the Hollies recorded the first-ever cover of a Springsteen song with “Sandy,” in 1975, well before Springsteen’s break though into superstardom.

After his performance, Sylvester stopped by the Hall of Fame to check on the installation of the New Inductees exhibit.  Sylvester handed over the acoustic guitar used on the Hollies 1974 hit “The Air That I Breathe” for the exhibit, giving me information about the guitar for the exhibit text. It’s a curator’s dream to have an exhibit donor at hand to provide pertinent details about the artifacts!

This year’s group ...


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Celebrating 35 Years of Austin City Limits

Monday, April 12: 1:05 p.m.
Elvis Costello on stage at ACL-TV

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum officially declared the studio where Austin City Limits is produced a “historic rock and roll landmark” last October, it was more than just a validation of the show’s status as the longest-running music series in American television history.  It gave a lot of people – artists, the media, even the staff itself – a new appreciation for the sheer impact ACL has had after 35 years.  We’ve recorded hundreds and hundreds of shows with thousands upon thousands of musicians that have been seen by tens of millions of people all over the world.  Some of them have even been inspired to become musicians themselves…and some of them have even found themselves performing on the same historic stage – a dream come true.  The legacy and magic of the TV show have spawned a music festival (ACL Fest, every October in Austin), an upcoming book (due out in August), and now a permanent live music venue (opening in January 2011).  Not bad for a li’l ole Texas music show that started on a shoestring budget in 1975.

We’re probably on our third generation of performers and viewers by now ...


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ACL-TV photographer Scott Newton discusses his images in the Museum's Austin City Limits exhibit

Wednesday, June 2: 11:30 a.m.

I’ve been asked to write about some of my images on display in the Rock Hall’s ACL exhibit.  It is a pleasure to do so; photographing performing musicians, it appears, has become my life’s work, and I have a lot to say.  This is my 32nd year as ACL’s official staff photographer, and the performers I’ve seen are many, the types of music various and varied.

But always, to my way of seeing, the task is the same: to convey the spirit that motivates the performing artist; to slice away the extraneous and come up with an image that conveys as much as possible of what the experience was like, who the performer was, and what the energy and essence were like, on our stage, during the performance.  All of this with one final image, rendered into two dimensions of height and breadth, and unlike video, without the benefit of time and moving images.  Oh, and most importantly, to come up with a good likeness that the artist and his management will approve of.

This is how I approach my job:  first, Music is the sound the Muses make.  My belief is that there’s ...


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Hitsville USA

Tuesday, August 3: 12:10 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Rock Hall inductee Dennis Edwards of the Temptations (right) with Director of Education Jason Hanley

Last week at the Rock Hall the buzz was all about Hitsville USA.  On Wednesday the Education Department featured a Rock and Roll Night School program on Motown, and on Friday we welcomed Inductee Dennis Edwards of the Temptations for an afternoon Hall of Fame Series event.  And don’t forget that this week is your final chance to see the excellent exhibit MOTOWN: The Sound of Young America Turns 50.

This month’s Rock and Roll Night School, our second on the music of Motown, focused on the years 1964 to 1967, when the label was hitting its stride, cranking out hit after hit, and going head to head with the sounds of the British invasion.  Several factors lead to Motown’s success during this period.  One was Berry Gordy’s vision and business smarts.  By owning the recording, publishing, marketing, distribution, and management he was able to connect every part of the music business and control the sound and image that became the Motown brand.  Another key development was connecting a team of songwriters to a specific musical group.  In the case of Holland-Dozier-Holland this meant teaming with the Supremes and the Four Tops, and the result was ...


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