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A Rare Moment with the Late Paul Kantner

Monday, February 15: 4:20 a.m.
Posted by Anastasia Karel

Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane RIP

A fan has left a rose at the entrance of 2400 Fulton Street in San Francisco, where Jefferson Airplane once lived, in acknowledgment of Paul Kantner's death. / photo by Richie Unterberger

I felt like a part of my San Francisco died when I heard the news of Paul Kantner’s passing. For fans like myself who so profoundly identify with certain music and musicians, it feels like we are losing part of ourselves each time one of our heroes passes away.
 
I discovered Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Jefferson Airplane when I was a senior in high school and a classmate shared a boxset of their music – Jefferson Airplane Loves You. As a teenager, it was perhaps my first taste of psychedelia and the counterculture. I went on to study the history of the Summer of Love as an American Studies major in college. When I was 22, my parents took me to San Francisco, and I actually wore flowers in my hair.

Several years later I found myself with a job at UC Berkeley, and I made regular pilgrimages across the bay to see Richie Unterberger give presentations on rare rock films at the Haight-Ashbury branch ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, The Grateful Dead, Hall of Fame, Rare Performances

Allen Toussaint Was an Artist of Great Stature

Monday, December 28: 12:18 p.m.
Posted by John Broven

New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee RIP

To say the news of Allen Toussaint’s death came as a shock is an understatement. Ever dapperly dressed and forever modest, he appeared to be the picture of health for a 77-year-old, still performing regularly until felled by a heart attack after a well-received show in Spain. Known more as a producer, songwriter, arranger, and pianist than a singer, Toussaint was born in Gert Town, New Orleans, on January 18, 1938, and died in a Madrid hotel on November 10, 2015.

I first met him in 1973 when I was conducting interviews for my book, Walking to New Orleans, republished in the U.S. as Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans. With partner Marshall Sehorn, Toussaint was in the process of opening the Sea-Saint Recording Studio at Clematis Avenue in the Gentilly area of New Orleans. He was never outward-going and it’s fair to say that if it hadn’t been for Sehorn, with his promotional acumen, I would never have landed the interview. To my patent surprise, even shock, Toussaint seemed to shrug aside his past, being mainly interested in the present and future. Subsequent events proved him right because for all his early success there were ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Hall of Fame, Education, Exclusive Interviews

Finding John Lennon's "first real major piece of work"

Thursday, December 3: 4:23 p.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

The Beatles and John Lennon In My Life lyrics Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland

John Lennon called "In My Life" his "first real major piece of work." 

The song started as a long poem about the bus ride from his Aunt Mimi's house in suburban Liverpool, where he grew up, to the dockside area of the Mersey River. The poem listed Lennon's beloved childhood haunts, including one locale familiar to Beatles fans: Penny Lane.

"The words were almost irrelevant. 'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place I could remember," said Lennon in a 1980 interview. "I wrote it all down and it was ridiculous... it was the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holiday's Bus Trip' song, and it wasn't working at all. But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. Paul helped with the middle-eight."

And though Lennon variously referred to "In My Life" as his, the elegiac reverie on life and love, a poignant reflection on what matters most, the essential fragile translucence of things caught in a Beatle melody was so beautiful that neither John nor Paul would ever agree on ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, The Beatles, History of Rock and Roll

What is the Smokey Robinson aesthetic?

Tuesday, October 20: 12 p.m.
Posted by David Ritz

Get details on the Rock Hall's weeklong Music Masters Tribute to Smokey Robinson!

Smokey Robinson Tribute Concert Rock Hall 2015 Music Masters event

Smokey Robinson is celebrated for two great and distinct contributions: his work as producer/composer and as a performer. Put these two elements together and you have the Smokey Robinson aesthetic, one of the most lyrical in the history of American pop music.

So, what is the Smokey Robinson aesthetic?

Its salient characteristics are sensitivity, sweetness and poetic invention. Both as writer and singer, Smokey is an unapologetic romantic, a man who trades in extravagant emotional expression. The signature Smokey sound carries a mesmerizing mixture of heartache and hunger, sensual pleasure and erotic longing.

Since he burst on the scene with his Miracles in 1957, he has elevated the art of R&B with a high soaring tenor that is an instrument of rare flexibility, a delicate reed of quiet beauty.

His impact was felt immediately on the artists he produced at Motown in the 60s – among others, Mary Wells, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the Marvelettes and Brenda Holloway. 

Smokey Robinson Tribute Concert Rock Hall 2015 Music Masters event Michael Jackson

Looking back at his pre-teen work, Michael Jackson said: “Smokey was one of the artists who influenced me most deeply. I studied his singing group, the Miracles ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Event, Hall of Fame, American Music Masters, Exclusive Interviews

Interview: Why Graham Nash left the Hollies and the Start of CSN

Friday, October 16: 10:32 a.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

On October 17, 2015, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland opens its latest exhibit, Graham Nash: Touching the Flame. Pieces from Nash's heroes and inspirations – the Beatles, the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and Duane Allman – and treasures from his time with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash come to life as the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee reflects on the visceral and profound impact of the music and world events on him and those around him.

 Graham Nash Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Inductee new exhibits 2015

In this interview, Graham Nash shares the story of how he left the Hollies and followed his heart to form CSN.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: What were your feelings were about The Hollies and how you had changed over the years? What informed your decision to leave?

Graham Nash:One of them was that I didn't feel that they trusted my need for direction. Every Hollie single that we had made, apart from the first couple made it to the top 10, and that's where we were used to being. We'd bring out a single, it would go into the top 10, that's what we ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Graham Nash, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews, History of Rock and Roll

The Stars Come Out For Darlene Love in New Music Video and Album

Thursday, August 27: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

Darlene Love 2015 New Music Video with Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, Bill Murray, David Letterman

The New York Times once declared that Darlene Love's “thunderbolt voice is as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton's guitar or Bob Dylan's lyrics.” A bold statement, but fitting for popular music's greatest sessions vocalist and backup singer – and among the most recognizable voices in rock and roll history. “I never pushed to be a star,” she told writer David Hinckley in 1992. “I didn’t want to. I had my home, my family. Session work let you do the music and leave.”

Among rock cognoscenti, Love is best known for “He’s a Rebel,” a song credited to the Crystals that was in actuality sung by Love and her vocal group, the Blossoms. That's a story unto itself. With the Blossoms, Love sang with the likes of Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Mamas and the Papas, Duane Eddy, Sonny and Cher, Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

“One time I had to make a list of all the people I’ve worked for,” Love recalled in a 1985 Goldmine interview. “The ...


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Julian Bond: "The Power of Rock and Roll brought Blacks and Whites Together"

Monday, August 17: 3:55 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Julian Bond speech, race and the history of rock and roll, 2010 Music Masters Cleveland, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 2010, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honored Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew as part of its annual Music Masters series saluting pioneering figures from the past half century. Among the many who took part in that weeklong celebration, in Cleveland, was Julian Bond.

An influential Civil Rights leader, politician, writer and professor, Bond, who passed away on August 15, 2015, provided among the more poignant remarks at the tribute to Domino and Bartholomew. He spoke of rock and roll's power to unite and the courage it required to deliver.

This is the full transcript of Bond's speech from the November 13, 2010 Music Masters tribute to Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, including a poem he wrote when he was in college and published in first Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee newsletter.

"While [Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew] records were storming the charts, major challenges were being mounted against the forces of racial segregation and discrimination — the segregation that kept black and white rock and roll fans from listening to music or dancing together, that kept Domino and Bartholomew and their bands from restaurants and hotels on the road, the segregation that kept African Americans from voting ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, History of Rock and Roll, Exclusive Interviews

The 50th Anniversary of the Beatles at Shea Stadium

Saturday, August 15: 3:47 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

On August 15, 1965, the Beatles performed before a crowd of more than 55,000 ecstatic fans in New York City’s Shea Stadium. That’s a lot of screaming.

The legendary performance was the first ever in a major U.S. stadium, and is known as perhaps the most famous Beatles’ concert – well, maybe that infamously cut short rooftop gig ranks higher.

The 1964 Ludwig drum kit played by Ringo Starr during that Shea Stadium gig was also used on six Beatles’ albums, as well as during their last official concert appearance in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966. Can you think of a more iconic drum set?

John Lennon’s 1964 Rickenbacker electric guitar used during the performance was one of two guitars made especially for Lennon while visiting America for the first time in 1964, and used on the Beatles second-ever Ed Sullivan appearance. It soon became his primary instrument, and still has the set list from Shea Stadium taped to the side.

Hard to believe that 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of that Beatles’ milestone – and that Beatlemania would still be alive and well! Both the Ringo Starr Ludwig drumkit and the John Lennon Rickenbacker ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, Today in Rock, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, The Beatles, Inductee, Hall of Fame
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