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50 Years Ago: Beatlemania and the Instruments that Conquered America

Friday, February 7: 10:53 a.m.
Posted by Andy Babiuk
The Beatles rehearse before appearing on Ed Sullivan in 1964

Sunday, February 9, 1964 was the day that changed music and pop culture forever. The Ed Sullivan Show was one of the most popular television programs in the United States and at 8pm Eastern Standard Time, the Beatles made their live debut on American national television before an estimated 73 million people. This single television appearance mesmerized an entire generation. How many future musicians’ dreams began that day? How many kids were inspired to form bands and be like the Beatles? Virtually every famous American rock musician would say later: “When I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan it changed my life.”

It was on that Sunday night that the Beatles conquered America and Beatlemania had taken hold of the nation. Their music, mop-top hairstyles, matching suits and "Beatle" boots all helped create the image that we all know and love, but it was their instruments that also made a huge impression on everyone watching. Paul McCartney’s Hofner 500/1 bass, John Lennon’s 325 Rickenbacker guitar, George Harrison’s Gretsch Country Gentleman and Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum set, all became extensions of each of their personalities.

This instrumental lineup was a major part of America’s first ...


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A Beatles' Dozen: 12 Memorable Rock Songs Covered by the Beatles

Wednesday, February 5: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Beatles "Twist and Shout" EP from 1963

The members of the Beatles fell under the spell of rock and roll early on. When the new sound first broke in 1955 and 1956, it caught the attention of Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. The lads bought rock and roll records and went to movies where they could see rock and roll stars perform. 

As a band, the Beatles are often regarded as being second-generation rock and rollers, but as kids and as players, they were very much inspired by rock's first generation. They fell in love with rock's “big bang” moment; artists like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and other artists that would be key to their sound and genesis as a band. As the formative Beatles coalesced, they covered songs by the artists they liked, adding early rock and roll cuts to the set lists as they honed their group dynamic.

Be part of the Beatles 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Rock Hall on February 9, 2014

The Beatles Please Please Me Album Cover Art

Sometimes the Beatles are said to have saved rock and roll. However, at the time the group landed stateside in 1964, Motown had already been cranking out hits ...


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Beatlemania Comes to the United States

Monday, February 3: 10:15 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Beatles – "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

By December 1963, England had enjoyed nearly a year of Beatlemania. The Fab Four – George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – had sold millions of records for EMI's Parlophone imprint. The group’s first single, “Love Me Do”/”P.S. I Love You,” briefly dented the U.K. Top 20 in October 1962, but their next 45, “Please Please Me,” formally ignited Beatlemania in their homeland, reaching the Number Two spot. It was followed in 1963 by three consecutive chart-topping British singles: “From Me to You” “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They conquered the U.K., even inducing a classical music critic from the Sunday Times to declare them “the greatest composers since Beethoven.” Moreover, they were the greatest rockers since the composer of “Roll Over Beethoven” – Chuck Berry. Still, success in America remained elusive for manager Brian Epstein and his young charges, as Capitol – EMI's American label – refused to release the Beatles' first four British singles, one label executive noting, "We don't think the Beatles will do anything in this market." Everything would change with "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Be part of the Beatles 50th Anniversary Celebration ...


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Hall of Famers Rock the 2014 Grammy Awards

Monday, January 27: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
Paul McCartney live at the 2014 Grammy Awards / Kevin Mazur/WireImage

It was star-studded night at the 56th annual Grammy Awards. With artists – new and old – coming together, and a handful of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees taking to the stage. The night included rememberances of Hall of Fame Inductees Lou Reed and Phil Everly, as well as 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Dave Grohl taking honors for best rock song for “Cut Me Some Slack,” a collaboration from his Sound City soundtrack that features Paul McCartney, former Nirvana bandmate and fellow 2014 Inductee Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear. From Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to  Madonna to Stevie Wonder, there were numerous Inductees getting into the live act at the Grammy Awards. 

Dozens of couples, representing all demographics: gay, straight, interracial, young and old said “I do” during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ performance of “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert and Rock Hall Inductee and seven-time Grammy Award–winner Madonna. Lewis, the group’s producer, told The New York Times, the wedding “will be in our minds the ultimate statement of equality, that all the couples are entitled to the same exact thing.”

Carole King joined Sara Bareilles (who performed songs by Laura Nyro at the 2012 ...


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Neil Young Honors the Everly Brothers

Thursday, January 9: 1:40 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Phil and Don Everly brought the country tradition of blood-related harmony to the rock and roll generation. Their songs and musical style informed and influenced countless musicians across many genres for seven decades and likely many more to come. There's a reason that Don and Phil Everly were among the first group of Inductees in 1986: their music helped define rock and roll. With the passing of Phil Everly on January 3, 2014, rock and roll lost one of its greatest voices, though a legacy of recordings and acolytes around the globe promise that Phil's music will never be silenced.

"When I was about 15 or maybe 12, I started playing in a band in school, and we got together in my garage – four guys with some beat up pieces of equipment that really didn't work too good," Neil Young said when inducting the Everly Brothers at the 1986 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. "We started playing, and we did instrumentals for about a year or so, and then I got up enough nerve to start singing. Some people say maybe I shouldn't have started that. Anyway, one of the other guys in ...


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A Never-Before-Heard Johnny Cash Album Gets Release Date

Thursday, December 12: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
New Johnny Cash album: Out Among the Stars

“'I Walk the Line' was a hit in November of 1956, that’s about a year before I was born, so it really is a part of the world that I know. But that’s the way it seems with great songs and great artists. Their impact on people is such that you can’t imagine what the world would be like or sound like without them.”

That was Lyle Lovett describing the first Johnny Cash song he ever heard, when he inducted Cash at the 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony (watch video of Lyle Lovett inducting Johnny Cash into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).

“I Walk the Line” hit Number One on the country Billboard charts and crossed over into the pop Top 20. Nearly six decades after "I Walk the Line" – and more than a decade after his passing in 2003 at age 71 – new, never-before-heard material from The Man in Black is scheduled for release in Spring 2014.

Pictured (l-r): 1943 Martin acoustic guitar played by Johnny Cash during his Sun Records recording sessions from 1955 to 1958; c.1955 suit worn by Johnny Cash during his time with Sun Records ...


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Exclusive Interview with Robby Krieger of the Doors: Remembering Ray Manzarek, reconnecting with John Densmore and the Doors' Greatest Moments

Saturday, December 7: 9 a.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Robby Krieger

Over the course of a short career that only lasted a little more than five years, the Doors had a tremendous impact on rock and roll. They were a truly unique group, with a singer, Jim Morrison, who was a genuine poet with an almost mythical persona. Unlike most bands at the time, the Doors did not have a bass player. Ray Manzarek played the bass lines on his keyboards. John Densmore was a solid, steady drummer. And Robby Krieger was an elegant guitarist with a distinctive style unlike the blues-based guitar leanings favored by most his six-string peers. 20 years after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, Robby Krieger sits down for an exclusive interview with the Rock Hall, reflecting on the passing of friend and bandmate Ray Manzarek, patching up differences with John Densmore, the Doors' greatest moments, where the Doors would've gone had Jim Morrison lived, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, what he's listening to now and more.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: First, let’s talk about Ray Manzarek’s death…. Did you see that coming? Had he been sick for a while?

Doors guitarist Robby Krieger with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarak

Robby Krieger: Not really ...


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40 Years Later: Guitarist Gary Rossington and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird"

Wednesday, December 4: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Gary Rossington

On December 4, 1951, Gary Rossington was born. One of the founding members and guitarist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rossington played his way into Southern rock history.

This year marks Rossington’s 63rd birthday and also the 40-year anniversary of Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album, (Pronounced 'leh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd), featuring the hit song “Free Bird.” The original 1973 version of "Free Bird" was truly wrenching: a nine-minute salute to a departed Southern brother Duane Allman, highlighted by Ronnie Van Zant's mournful vocals and relentless soloing from Allen Collins and Gary Rossington. (Skynyrd's trademark three-lead guitar lineup hadn't crystallized yet.) Rossington’s instrument of choice was his 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar that is now on display in the Museum’s Architects of Rock exhibit. Fifties-era Gibson Les Paul guitars are among the most sought-after and costly guitars in the rock world, and when Rossington was finally able to purchase a 1959 model, he named it after his beloved mother Berneice. Rossington played slide guitar on “Free Bird.” (pictured below: Gary Rossington 1959 Gibson Les Paul, on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum)

Despite saturation radio play since its first appearance ...


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