The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s artifact collection represents a diverse group of artists – much like the genre of rock and roll itself. The exhibits chronicle rock and roll history from its earliest days right through the new millennium, and visitors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will find clothing, handwritten lyrics, personal effects and much more. Among the Museum's most treasured pieces are the instruments.
The Museum's collection of rare instruments used in recordings and live performances includes drums, microphones, even flutes and a dulcimer, and the instrument most often associated with rock and roll: the guitar. There are approximately 20 guitars on permanent exhibit in the Museum’s atrium alone, and the instruments are rotated every six months. The guitars focus on Hall of Fame Inductees as well as non-inductee artists – both legendary and contemporary. Today, 10 new guitars that represent Inductees – including Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Jimmy Cliff, Mike Mills of R.E.M., Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and 2012 inductee, Steve Fossen of Heart – and non-inductees Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello and Mike Dirnt of Green Day were placed on exhibit.
Here are some favorites:
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Modulus Electric Bass
Michael “Flea” Balzary is one of the most respected musicians in music today, and this bass comes from his personal collection. In addition to being a founding member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he has collaborated with and/or contributed to recordings by Tom Waits, Jane’s Addiction, Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Damon Albarn and many others. In 2002, Flea co-founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, a community-based school to facilitate music education and instrument lessons.
Steve Fossen of Heart's Fender Jazzmaster, c. 1970 (pictured left)
Bassist Steve Fossen was a founding member of the band that would become Heart. Fossen used this bass on Heart recordings and live performances between 1970 and 1982. Heart was formed back in 1963 by Fossen and guitarists Roger and Mike Fisher under the name the Army.
Eventually, the band members settled on the name Heart, and Ann Wilson became the group’s lead vocalist in 1970. Four years later, in 1974, Ann’s sister Nancy joined the band as lead guitarist. Over their long career, Heart has released six Top 10 albums and 20 Top 40 singles.
Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello' Takamine 6-String (pictured right)
Gogol Bordello is a Gypsy punk band that formed on the Lower East Side of New York City in 1999. The group’s namesake is Nikolai Gogol, a 19th century Russian writer. The band cites the Clash, Jimi Hendrix, Parliament-Funkadelic, Basque singer Manu Chao and D.C hardcore band Fugazi as influences, as well as Gypsy music.
Mike Dirnt of Green Day's Kramer Custom Bass Guitar, c. 1974 (pictured left)
Dirnt played this bass at Green Day's triumphant appearance at the Woodstock ll Festival on August 14, 1994. Less than five years earlier, in 1989, singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and Dirnt, along with drummer Al Sobrante, released an independent EP under the name Green Day. Sobrante was replaced by Tré Cool soon after the release of the band’s first album, 39 / Smooth. Dookie, Green Day’s major-label debut, was released in 1994, and sold 10 million copies internationally. The album yielded the hits “Longview,” “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around.” [photos by Katelyn Landis]