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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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The Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen Joins the Rock Hall in Tribute to Janis Joplin

Thursday, November 12: 12 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley
Jorma Kaukonen performs in the Rock Hall's Foster Theater on November 11, 2009. Photo: Rock Hall/Jan

American Music Masters is in full swing.  Last night our signature Hall of Fame Series featured Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Jorma Kaukonen – a founding member of two legendary bands, the Hall of Fame Inducted Jefferson Airplane, and the still-touring Hot Tuna.  The packed audience was treated to a special evening of live music and conversation that gave us all an insider’s look into the San Francisco music scene that Janis Joplin was a part of in the 1960s.

Some of the most fascinating discussion of the night came when Kaukonen talked about how in the early 1960s he had moved from Washington D.C. to Ohio, and finally out to San Francisco.  As a new student at Santa Clara University Kaukonen walked into a small club that was featuring a hootenanny (a term typically used at the time to describe a folk-music party).  That night he met several people who would become his friends, among them Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin.  When asked about his time with Janis he described how they were all learning about music together.  Everyone was caught in the folk craze, looking back at classic blues and country music.  Jorma described how ...


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Inductee Michael Carabello, Nick Gravenites and Powell St. John Join the American Music Masters Tribute Concert Line-Up

Monday, November 9: 2:11 p.m.

American Music Masters week has arrived! We kick things off tonight with a special edition of Rock and Roll Night School on Janis Joplin’s career at the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University. Everybody’s cranking Janis tunes around here today—in the last 10 minutes, I’ve heard “Ball and Chain,” (twice!) “Maybe,” “Bye Bye Baby” and “Cry Baby.”

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve added three artists to the bill for Saturday evening’s concert at PlayhouseSquare: Rock Hall Inductee Michael Carabello will be joining his old Santana bandmate Gregg Rolie during the show. Mike is a fantastic percussionist—he’s recorded with Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, and the Rolling Stones, among others.  Blues singer and songwriter Nick Gravenites will also be joining us. Nick crossed paths with Janis Joplin in the early 1960s during her first trip to San Francisco. Nick wrote “Buried Alive in the Blues,” which Janis was due to record for Pearl when she died (an instrumental version appeared on the final album). He has written songs for Paul Butterfield, The Electric Flag, James Cotton, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, among many others. And our last ...


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Rock Hall Inductee Jerry Wexler’s Life and Legacy Celebrated

Thursday, November 5: 2:56 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
The Rock Hall's Atlantic Records exhibition case in the Main Exhibit Hall.

While the Rock Hall team was in New York for the 25th Anniversary Concerts, a celebration of the late Jerry Wexler’s life and his legacy was held at the Director’s Guild.  This tribute was a lively event meant to rejoice in all of the music that Hall of Fame Inductee Jerry was responsible for or had touched in his inimitable way.

Jerry’s daughter and son, Lisa and Paul, got it started with a few words about their Dad. Both discussed how much he meant to each of them and what a powerful influence he had been on their lives as well as so many others in the music industry.

The program was divided into two parts: first, speakers who gave personal remembrances; and second, a group of performers doing renditions of songs that Jerry produced and/or loved…..or both.

Many of the speakers gave testimony as to what Jerry had meant to their lives.  Several talked of his being a “rabbi” of sorts.  David Ritz,  who co-authored Jerry’s autobiography and is the dean of musical biographers, even provided the audience with some very specific legal advice that Jerry had proffered in response to one of ...


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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation Announces Nominees for 2010 Induction

Wednesday, September 23: 4:55 p.m.
Posted by No Author

The nominations for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum were announced today. The twelve nominees are: ABBA, Darlene Love, Donna Summer, Genesis, Jimmy Cliff, KISS, Laura Nyro, LL Cool J, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Chantels, The Hollies and The Stooges. Ballots will be sent to more than 500 voters, who will select artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 25th Annual Induction Ceremony on March 15, 2010 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Five of the twelve nominees will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To be eligible for nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an act must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. This year’s nominees had to release their first single no later than 1984.

The inductees will be announced in January 2010, and all inductees are ultimately represented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

Click here for more information on about the 2010 Induction nominees.

Who do you think should be inducted in 2010?


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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Les Paul, passes away

Thursday, August 13: 5:45 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Photo from the 2008 American Music Masters tribute concert, courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fa

It’s a very sad day for everyone who loves music. Les Paul passed away. He was truly one of the greats. He was a great guitar player. He was a great innovator, responsible for the solid-body electric guitar and for multi-track recording. He had an amazing life. He spent 94 years here on earth. And his mind stayed sharp the entire time, and he continued to perform, playing at a New York club every Monday night until recently. I had the privilege to know Les. When we were first working on the Museum, I called him and he told me he was giving all of his things to the Smithsonian. A few years later, he called me and said he was coming to Cleveland to see his doctor and he wanted to see the Hall of Fame. I gave him a tour, and at the end he said, “Jim, you are right. This is where my stuff belongs. If I gave everything to the Smithsonian, I would be lucky if they put one guitar on the wall. And it would probably be next to Judy Garland’s red slippers and no one would care about my guitar.” We then ...


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Rock Hall’s President Shares His Thoughts on Michael Jackson Film, This Is It

Monday, November 2: 5:21 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart

Early Sunday afternoon I decided that I had to see the Michael Jackson film, This Is It. I’d read the reviews which were pretty much all over the place, so I was a bit apprehensive. You know, I was a little fearful of something too exploitive.

What a surprise! Michael’s fans and music fans alike should take in this film before it leaves the theaters in its short run….seeing it at home on DVD will not do it justice. It’s a joyous revelation of the talent and spirit of this man.

I must admit that I had a very emotional response to this film about an artist I always listened to and loved so much. The viewer gets a great look at how the show was coming together and what a ground-breaking, incredible performance was intended. Unfortunately, it’s also a window to what we all lost with Michael’s passing.

Given the few cameras used and the hours of film, the seamless nature of the songs and the continuity is remarkable. Just remember though, that as a fan, it is very powerful to watch and so sad to know what will never be again.


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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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