The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Women Who Rock spotlight: The Piano That Started it All

Friday, July 8: 11:15 a.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Lady Gaga's childhood piano.

On the fourth floor of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, there’s an old upright piano. It’s the first artifact you see when you go to the Hall of Fame’s Women Who Rock exhibit. It’s the piano that Lady Gaga played when she was a little girl. Gaga’s father’s parents bought the piano in 1966 for $780. When Gaga was not even a year old, her grandparents gave the piano to her parents. According to Gaga’s mother, “When Stefani started to crawl, she would use the leg of the piano to pull herself up and stand, and in doing so, her fingers would eventually land on the keys.  She would stay there and just keep pressing the keys to hear the sound.  We would then start to hold her up or sit on the bench and let her tinker, you know, things like ‘Chopsticks’ and ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’” Gaga began taking piano lessons when she was four. She wrote her first song when she was five. It was called “Dollar Bills” and was inspired by Pink Floyd’s “Money.” She continued to play this piano until her parents bought her a baby-grand piano for her 13th birthday. Sitting on top of the piano are some framed photos of Gaga as a little girl, crawling on the piano and playing it.

From this point, visitors walk up a flight of stairs to the fifth floor, where the Women in Rock exhibit kicks into high gear. The exhibit covers some 70 female artists, ranging from such roots artists as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Mother Maybelle Carter all the way up to Lady Gaga and other contemporary artists, including Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood and Rihanna. This weekend is the Hall of Fame’s special Women Who Rock Celebration Weekend. There will be curator-guided tours of the exhibit, special film screenings and live musical performances. Be sure to check it out!

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