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50 Years Later: Mahalia Jackson and the Voices of the March on Washington

Wednesday, August 28: 10:39 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Mahalia Jackson was among the singers at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when more than a quarter million people converged in the then largest demonstration in the United States capital. It was a triumph of unity and a moment – like many revolutionary episodes – that seized on the power of song to help make sense of its gravitas. The diverse cast of voices on August 28, 1963 included Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul and Mary. However, it was gospel legend Mahalia Jackson who, at the request of Martin Luther King Jr., helped set the stage for among the world's greatest recordings: the "I Have a Dream" speech. 

"If [Martin Luther] King gave the movement a vision, Mahalia Jackson gave it a voice," wrote history and culture scholar Craig Werner in A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America.

The inimitable voice of 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Mahalia Jackson resonated far and wide, her bracing soprano and interpretation of gospel making her a familiar name among black and white audiences. She found stardom without making secular songs, becoming the first gospel artist to sing at Carnegie Hall in ...


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The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger Celebrates 70th Birthday

Friday, July 26: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
A younger Mick Jagger strums a guitar.

Today, Rolling Stones frontman and songwriter Mick Jagger celebrates his 70th birthday – and he has much to celebrate. Fresh off the successful "50 & Counting" tour and a triumphant return to Hyde Park, the Rolling Stones singular musical juggernaut has been delighting, beguiling, inciting and confounding fans and critics alike for more than five decades. The Rolling Stones discography includes 29 studio albums and 18 live albums, and Jagger has recorded five solo albums. There have been three dozen Top 10 Rolling Stones albums on the Billboard 200 chart, and the band has an estimated 66.5 million RIAA-certified US albums sold and sales awards. Hot Rocks alone has sold more than 12.5 million units according to the RIAA. The group's epic touring schedules and larger than life productions have helped make the Stones among the top grossing touring acts of all time. And Jagger isn't slowing down.

See highlights from the Rolling Stones' career in this colorful Rolling Stones infographic

"I'm very proud to work with this group of musicians for 25 years," said Jagger in his 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction speech. Jagger was joined on stage by Rolling Stones guitarist Mick ...


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Remembering Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby "Blue" Bland

Monday, June 24: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bobby Bland, who passed away on June 23, 2013, pictured here accepting Hall of Fame award in 1992.

After a singing career that spanned more than five decades, soul-blues vocalist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby "Blue" Bland passed away on June 23, 2013, in his home state of Tennessee. He was 83. Bland was one of soul music's greatest singers. His vocals were grainy, but, at the same time, warm and intimate. He played a major role in transforming the blues and gospel into a sound that became soul music.

"To me, there is no better singer that sings any kind of song than Bobby Bland," said B.B. King during his induction of Bland at the 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. "Bobby Bland is one of a kind." As a young man, Bland served as a chauffeur for King and Roscoe Gordon, and as a valet for Junior Parker. He eventually became part of a loose-knit group called the Beale Streeters – so named for the Memphis street where they congregated – which included King, Gordon, Parker, Johnny Ace, Billy Duncan and Earl Forrest.

In the latter half of the Fifties, after returning to Memphis following military duty, Bland matured into a masterful singer and assured entertainer. His hallmark was ...


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War's Lonnie Jordan Talks Music, Playing with Eric Burdon and Jimi Hendrix's Final Performance

Friday, May 10: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Interview with Lonnie Jordan of War (pictured front, center), who performs live on Saturday, May 11

The six founding members of War – the late Papa Dee Allen and Charles Miller, survivors Harold Brown, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan and Howard Scott – were gigging around L.A. for nearly a decade before hooking up with Eric Burdon (ex-Animals) and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar in 1969. Burdon and producer Jerry Goldstein named them War, and they backed it up with a steamy Afro-Latin R&B groove that rocked their debut hit “Spill The Wine.”  Less than two years later, Burdon dropped out and War went their own way in 1971.  A long string of Top 10 pop/R&B crossover hits established War’s status through the Seventies, always with a social message grounded by their distinctively breezy Southern California vibe. In this interview with War founding member Lonnie Jordan, he shares his first memories of playing, how War first connected with Eric Burdon and jamming with Jimi Hendrix during what would be his last public performance. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: How did you first become interested in playing music?

Lonnie Jordan: As a kid, I used to watch old black-and-white movies. Now keep in mind I'll be 65 this year, so when ...


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Interview with John Mayer, reflecting on 2013 Hall of Fame Inductee Albert King

Friday, April 12: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
John Mayer will induct Albert King into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The consistency with which John Mayer combines word craft and melody has earned him rarefied status as a respected songwriter and musician. As one of few musicians to achieve both critical acclaim and popular appeal, the seven-time Grammy Award winner has earned accolades for each album release while selling more than 17 million albums worldwide.

Known as a musician who defies genre boundaries, Mayer is well known for collaborations with a range of artists. From rock to blues, hip-hop to jazz to country, Mayer has performed and/or recorded with Hall of Fame inductees Eric Clapton, BB King and Buddy Guy, as well as T-Bone Burnett, Herbie Hancock, Dixie Chicks, Jay Z and Alicia Keys.

On April 18, 2013, John Mayer will induct legendary blues man Albert King into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 28th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Mayer will also perform a tribute to Albert King with Gary Clark Jr.

In this interview with John Mayer, the musician reflects on the lasting influence of Albert King, including how King's music first resonated with him and why King belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock Hall: What's your ...


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Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones

Thursday, April 4: 7:30 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Muddy Waters' passport photo, on loan to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In the history of rock and roll, Muddy Waters represented the tide that brought the Southern blues traditions to the north and amplified them. Along the way, he inspired the name of among the biggest rock and roll bands of all time – the Rolling Stones – and countless other artists who emerged in his wake.

Muddy Waters was born McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1913, in Issaquena County, Mississippi. Following his mother’s death in 1918, McKinley, the son of a farmer, was raised by his grandmother who lovingly gave him the nickname “Muddy” after his fondness for fishing and playing in a muddy creek. Being a pioneer of the Delta blues, Waters eventually took his talents on the road and landed at Chess Records in Chicago, Illinois. Many of the songs that Waters recorded have become blues landmarks, including “Honey Bee,” “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man,” “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” and “Got My Mojo Working.” 

In the Sixties, Waters played a large role in the blues revival that took American blues “across the pond.” A youthful group of Brits  who formed a band in 1962 – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart and ...


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Album Notes: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St.

Friday, March 8: 10 a.m.
Posted by Greg Harris
The Rolling Stones' 1972 release "Exile on Main St."

I was seven years old when Exile on Main St. was released in 1972. It wasn't until later in the decade that I first heard the album, though I was already a Rolling Stones fan by then. My earliest rock and roll mentors – friends and family, and musicians and writers that I admired – told me Exile was the Stones record to have, so I picked up a used, well-worn copy on vinyl. The dog-eared double LP jacket was ragged and looked like hell; long gone were the dozen postcards that came with the original packaging. However, the scratched wax delivered an electric sound. 

Those sounds – like my battered copy's packaging – were gritty, rough, perfectly unpolished. The album was filled with bravado, the songs seemingly shambolic, unrehearsed and the playlist was sprawling, with more than a dozen tracks. The Stones tapped into America's eclectic songbook, borrowing lines from country, blues, soul, swamp and the heyday of the rock and roll era – and it all sounded genuine. The recording of Exile was shrouded in mystique, a model of rebellion amid tales of wild decadence and hedonism at Nellcôte, the French mansion-cum-studio rented by Keith Richards. Even the ...


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Gallery Talk: Robert Lockwood Jr.'s Custom Guitar

Monday, February 18: 1 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
Robert Lockwood Jr. with custom guitar, now on exhibit at the Rock Hall in Cleveland

On February 11, 2013, Robert Lockwood Jr.'s custom 12-string electric guitar was placed on permanent exhibit in the Roots of Rock and Roll galleries at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Lockwood Jr.'s widow, Mary Lockwood, joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in presenting the famed bluesman's unique guitar, which was his primary instrument until his death in 2006 at age 91. 

Lockwood was taught to play the guitar by fabled songwriter and guitarist Robert Johnson, the first modern bluesman, and recorded as a solo artist for more than half a century. In this clip, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story behind the guitar Lockwood called "the most beautiful guitar I've ever seen" and why Lockwood was crowned the king of Cleveland blues. 


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