As the world turns and we get further and further away from those early days of rock and roll…or the Big Bang Period as I often refer to it…it seems that we lose another pioneer almost daily. This week is a sad one as we mourn the passing of a man who drew attention back to a whole generation of artists, many of which continue to shine brightly today. I speak of Richard Nader, the impresario of the “Rock and Roll Revival Shows” which featured all of the great acts that at that time were only 10 or so years from their heyday…but had been shoved into the shadows, obscured by the British Invasion, the rise of folk rock, the advent of the summer of love and the psychedelic craze that followed and so on. I speak of Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, the Five Satins, the Moonglows, the Penguins, Jackie Wilson, the Shirelles, the Platters and many more.
The Rock and Roll Revival Shows held at Madison Square Garden were a huge success with almost all of the original 25 selling out in this mother of all venues. I was lucky enough to be at many of these including that fateful night when the audience booed a long hair, piano playing “Rick” Nelson off the stage. As Rick himself said, he “didn’t look the same.” Plus, he played other people’s songs, not just his hits. As we all know, Rick got even with his biggest record ever, “Garden Party”, and simultaneously gave us all a liberating rock and roll mantra for all times: “can’t please everyone, so ya gotta please yourself.” Richard went on to produce a major feature film, “Let The Good Times Roll”, starring many of these greats and then took these shows on the road and to network television. No one did more to keep this era alive and vital.
For those that knew him, Richard had a glorious and sometimes tragic life. But above all else, he loved the music and the artists and deserves our gratitude forever for returning to center stage those that gave us the most impactful art form of all time ”Rock and Roll.” In recent years, I was fortunate to become friends with Richard and his wife, Deborah. They, in turn, came to know the Museum and our mission and embraced our efforts. As a result, they set aside proceeds from their shows as a donation to the Museum and gave us the opportunity to speak to broad audiences about what we do here in Cleveland. Again, we will be forever thankful.
Deborah Nader carries on today presenting shows across the nation, still spotlighting the acts that started it all. The next stop is the annual Holiday show in Pittsburgh on Friday, December 11th. It promises to be a blast.
We are all grateful for her efforts to carry on the Nader tradition and for the remarkable talent that graces those stages. In his memory, Deborah has asked that donations be made to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s education programs as a tribute to Richard.
My heartfelt thanks to you, Deborah.