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Interview with 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Wanda Jackson

Thursday, August 16: 11:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Wanda Jackson talks about her conversations with Elvis Presley

In February 2009, a who's who from the world of rock and roll convened in Clear Lake, Iowa, for the Fifty Winters Later series of events honoring the anniversary of the tragic deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, whose plane crashed in Clear Lake on February 3, 1959. As part of the weeklong celebration of those pioneering rockers, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's education department led a number of interviews and panel discussions, featuring the likes of Maria Elena Holly, Graham Nash, Sir Tim Rice, Geezer Butler, the Crickets and more. 

On February 2, Rock Hall VP of education and public programs Lauren Onkey interviewed Wanda Jackson in Clear Lake as part of the Rock Hall's Hall of Fame Series. "I was just doing straight country, and that's all I had ever planned on doing," explained Jackson of her early days performing. "[Elvis] started talking to me about his kind of music – we didn't really have a name for it at that point. I said look, I love it of course, but you're a guy, you can sing it, and I just don't think ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: Bonnie Raitt's Jacket and Fender Stratocaster

Monday, August 6: 12 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Bonnie Raitt's signature Fender Stratocaster

From her self-titled debut album in 1971, Bonnie Raitt has established herself as a virtuoso blues musician who sings blues with gritty passion and plays slide guitar with authority, as if the genre’s fundamentals had been etched in her soul. With mentors that included Sippie Wallace, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House, Raitt has demonstrated a studied reverence for old-school country-blues tempered with a contemporary outlook and willingness to experiment. She recorded eight albums for Warner Bros. Records from 1971 to 1986, progressively moving from straight blues into more pop-oriented areas without losing sight of her roots. Raitt's move to Capitol Records was followed by her 1989 breakthrough Nick of Time, which netted four Grammy Awards in 1990 and prompted her to note: “It means so much for the kind of music that we do. It means that those of us who do rhythm & blues are going to get a chance again.”

In this clip, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum VP of exhibitions and curatorial Jim Henke shares the story behind the development and impact of Bonnie Raitt's signature Fender Stratocaster and the jacket she was wearing on one of the most rewarding ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: Loretta Lynn

Friday, February 10: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Loretta Lynn's 1975 album Back To The Country contained the controversial track "The Pill."

For more than four decades, Loretta Lynn has delivered honest narratives with a country spirit on recordings from 1963's Loretta Lynn Sings to the Jack White–produced Van Lear Rose in 2004. On stage, she simultaneously projects a profound confidence and demure sensibility,  as her polished voice carried lyrics with a decidedly rock and roll swagger. She is the inspiration for countless musicians – male and female – who are empowered by her ability to capture the issues of the day in songs that opened the doors to candid reflections on taboo topics.

Lynn didn’t begin playing music until her mid-twenties, though she married Oliver Lynn, nicknamed “Mooney,” when she was 13. They had six children and were married nearly 50 years until his death in 1996. After years spent raising her family, Lynn began singing in various local bands, eventually attracting the attention of independent record label Zero Records. Within a year, Lynn signed to Decca, one of the biggest labels in the country. Taken under the wing of Patsy Cline, Lynn began to blossom into a major recording star. Including her duets with Conway Twitty, Lynn posted more than 50 Top 10 country hits between 1962 and ...


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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 ...


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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 ...


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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 ...


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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 ...


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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 ...


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