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An Evening With Rosie Flores and "the Female Elvis"

Tuesday, January 24: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Janis Martin

Dubbed "the female Elvis," Virginia native Janis Martin's sobriquet alone fostered great expectations for the young performer in the 1950s. As the fusion of R&B and country evolved into rockabilly, and a charge of primarily male artists heralded its arrival, she was a rarity – though her musicianship, charismatic stage persona and a series of memorable recordings meant the annals of history would not dismiss her as a novelty. 

A precocious performer reared in a family of musicians, Martin's earliest experiences singing and playing guitar came before she reached her teens. Although initially drawn to country music, Martin's exposure to R&B in the Fifties proved captivating, and the resulting genre-blending sound she cultivated was enough to pique the interest of RCA/Victor, who signed her when she was 15 years old. "Victor, having taken the gamble with Presley and emerged a winner, has now come up with the 'Female Elvis Presley.' This lass is Janis Martin, and her first disk, 'Will You, Willyum' is already getting sales action in all fields," noted the May 12, 1956 issue of Billboard. From roughly 1956 through 1960, Martin recorded and released numerous cuts – from the suitably rocking original ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Education, Foster Theatre, Event

Album Notes: Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash"

Wednesday, January 11: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Despite the subtitle of Johnny Cash's 1963 compilation album Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash, the 12 tracks more accurately represent a nicely curated assemblage of singles and recordings from the Man in Black's late Fifties to the early Sixties catalog. As an undisputed legend of American song, a titanic figure on par with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly and Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash arguably sang more types of songs, including folk, country, blues and gospel, than any of his peers or predecessors – and this album illustrates that versatility.

Although present at the genesis of rock and roll as one of the earliest signings to Sam Phillips' Sun Records in 1955, Cash recorded for nearly three decades with Columbia Records, a fruitful period that produced an estimated 1,400 songs. Cash's 16th album, Ring of Fire did, in fact, feature some of his best material, and on the week of January 11, 1964, it became the Number One album on Billboard's new Country Album chart.

The title track, "Ring Of Fire," written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore, is indicative of the idiosyncratic genius that's a hallmark of Cash's songwriting, with its ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Today in Rock

10 Essential Elvis Presley Songs

Saturday, January 7: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Elvis Presley

See the NEW Elvis Presley exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! 

Elvis Presley is the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. He rose from humble circumstances to launch the rock and roll revolution with his commanding voice and charismatic stage presence. In the words of the historical marker that stands outside the house where he was born: “Presley’s career as a singer and entertainer redefined popular music.”

As far as his stature as a cultural icon, which continues to grow even in death, writer Lester Bangs said it best: “I can guarantee you one thing - we will never again agree on anything as we agreed on Elvis.”

In celebration of Presley's January 8 birthday and his contributions to rock and roll, we chose 10 essential Elvis Presley songs. Presley built arguably the most impressive catalog of recordings in rock history, so it was understandably difficult narrowing the list down to 10 essential tracks. Let us know what songs would be on your list.

10 Essential Elvis Presley Songs

1. "That’s All Right"

Released in the summer of 1954, "That's All Right" was Presley's first commercial single and a fairly faithful version of ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, 10 Essential Songs

Pioneers of Rock

Monday, September 19: 1 p.m.
Ruth Brown topped the R&B chart with “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" in 1953

"Pioneers of Rock" is the second installment in a special series that highlights the evolution of women in music by placing their accomplishments, inspirations and influence in the context of the eras that shaped their sounds and messages. "America's Foremothers" introduced the series.

As World War II ended in 1945 and G.I.s returned home, the proportion of women on assembly lines fell from 25 percent to 7.5 percent. Women who had – out of necessity – taken an unprecedented place in the work force were urged back into the home by books like 1947’s Modern Woman: The Lost Sex. The book argued that only a return to traditional values and gender roles could restore “women’s inner balance.”

Female rock and roll pioneers were less interested in restoring “women’s inner balance” than they were seeking an even playing field. Taking cues from Jackie Robinson’s and Larry Doby’s breaking the color line in baseball in 1947, and from President Truman’s desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces with the signing of Executive Order 9981 in 1948, American culture and the music business was at the birth of a new age. As with the birth of ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Education

Riding With The Man in Black

Monday, September 12: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Johnny Cash (2/26/1932 - 9/12/2003)

With a genre-spanning catalog that straddles the country, folk and rockabilly canon, and more than 400 songs that tapped into a homespun narrative about the lives of coal miners, sharecroppers, Native Americans, prisoners, cowboys, renegades and family men, Johnny Cash – "the man in black" – is a country music legend and a voice beloved by millions. Cash's rugged sensibility has influenced generations: From his 1956 two-sided hit "So Doggone Lonesome"/"Folsom Prison Blues" (Number Four on the Billboard charts) to 1969's "A Boy Named Sue" from Johnny Cash at San Quentin (Number Two on the charts); to his critically acclaimed American Recordings (produced by Rick Rubin and released in 1994) to 2002's American IV: The Man Comes Around, featuring a stirring cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." Cash, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, passed away a year after American IV's release, on September 12, 2003 at the age of 71.

Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, on February 26, 1932, amid the trying environment of the Great Depression. As a child, his humble beginnings found him working in the cotton fields of Dyess, Arkansas, where his family had moved ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit

Country music artist Jamey Johnson tours the Rock Hall

Wednesday, October 27: 5:29 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
Jamey Johnson in the Rock Hall's Bruce Springsteen exhibit.

In the spring of 2008, I received a call from Brian Jennings, the program director of WGAR, the country radio station in Cleveland. A new artist was going to be visiting the station and was interested in visiting the Museum. That was the first time I met Jamey Johnson. There’s no doubt upon meeting Jamey is that he is the real deal, a sincere and true artist who has a deep and abiding respect for the true soul of music. If you’ve heard any of his records, you know what I mean. We had a great time that day walking around the museum talking about all kinds of music and bonding over our mutual love for Hank Williams, Sr. Jamey, like ol’ Hank, is from Montgomery, Alabama. We’ve kept in touch periodically through email and it’s been very satisfying to see him achieve the level of success and volume of accolades he has earned.

Last week an email shows up from Jamey saying he was in town to play at the House of Blues (a gig I was embarrassingly unaware of) and wanted to know if he could bring over a few friends. About 30 minutes ...


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