As part of our re-design of the Museum’s galleries, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has just opened a fantastic new Beatles exhibit. It features all new casework, a video element and – best of all – several great new artifacts. The Museum has had a great relationship with Yoko Ono since day one. As a result, we have always had numerous artifacts representing John Lennon, including his Sgt. Pepper uniform, the guitar he played during the bed-ins for peace that he and Yoko held in 1969, several lyric manuscripts and a black leather jacket from the Beatles’ days in Hamburg. This time around, as we revamped our Beatles exhibit, both Olivia Harrison and Ringo Starr also contributed artifacts. George Harrison’s widow loaned us a striped suit that he wore during the Beatles’ 1966 tour of the U.S. and an orange jacket that he wore to the premiere of Yellow Submarine. Ringo loaned us a red jacket that he wore in the “Strawberry Fields Forever” promo film. In addition, the exhibit includes Lennon’s collarless jacket that he wore in 1963 and 1964, the Beatles logo drumhead from the band’s appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in ...
We are now just less than a month out from the opening of our next major exhibit, Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, the world’s first exhibition of its kind dedicated to honoring some of rock and roll’s most talented artists. The exhibit is going to cover nearly a century’s worth of music and feature more than 70 artists, filling two entire floors of the museum with costumes, instruments, handwritten lyrics, video and listening stations, plus much more.
We’ll be documenting the exhibit installation process throughout the next four weeks and will share some of our favorite images here on the Rock Hall blog up until the grand opening of the exhibit on Friday, May 13.
Preparing the canvas: the walls have been freshly painted and are nearly ready for the next steps: installing large scale graphic art to frame the eight rock and roll eras that will be featured in the exhibit.
A sneak peek at the process so far:
Next week: a look at the exhibit's original artwork installation: a giant album cover chandelier – a work of art in its own right - and mounting the artifact exhibit cases.
I’m excited to be opening my photo show, Girls on Film: 40 Years of Women in Rock, at the Rock Hall on February 14. Going over my negatives, and picking and printing the images, gave me the chance to reflect on my own trajectory as a photographer and a music fan. I’ve also been mulling over why, after a couple of years of thinking about such a show and vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs Jim Henke saying “Anytime you’re ready, let’s talk,” this particular theme and selection of work is important to me.
The earliest image in the show was taken at a free daytime concert in Grant Park in Chicago (where I grew up) in 1969. I was new to both photography and rock music. I borrowed a camera from my father — he was a serious amateur photographer whose taste in subjects ran to scenery and flowers — and brought it with me to take pictures of Jefferson Airplane, the band that had recently sparked my interest in rock and roll, largely due to its distinctive singer, Grace Slick, who was neither the ethereal Joni Mitchell-style folk girl or the bad-ass blues mama ...
When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum officially declared the studio where Austin City Limits is produced a “historic rock and roll landmark” last October, it was more than just a validation of the show’s status as the longest-running music series in American television history. It gave a lot of people – artists, the media, even the staff itself – a new appreciation for the sheer impact ACL has had after 35 years. We’ve recorded hundreds and hundreds of shows with thousands upon thousands of musicians that have been seen by tens of millions of people all over the world. Some of them have even been inspired to become musicians themselves…and some of them have even found themselves performing on the same historic stage – a dream come true. The legacy and magic of the TV show have spawned a music festival (ACL Fest, every October in Austin), an upcoming book (due out in August), and now a permanent live music venue (opening in January 2011). Not bad for a li’l ole Texas music show that started on a shoestring budget in 1975.
We’re probably on our third generation of performers and viewers by now ...
Curatorial Director Howard Kramer shares insight on his conversation with Seeger and why he decided to put his infamous banjo head in the Museum instead of on auction.
On Monday, my co-worker in the membership department, Linda Worden, called me to say that she had Pete Seeger on the line and he wanted to speak with me about donating something. I could hear the excitement in her voice about having a conversation with a legend like Pete. It’s a wonderful perk of working at the Rock Hall. She transferred the call to me and there was Pete, spry and warm as usual. Last fall he celebrated his 90th birthday with a sold-out all-star show in his honor at Madison Square Garden. He has been a part of our lives for so long you could easily take for granted his contributions to music and society. Pete has been a leading force in American folk music long before there was any sort of folk revival. His tireless work for social justice and environmental causes is virtually unparalleled.
Back to the phone call. Pete explains to me that he ...
Chief Curator Jim Henke talks to Bruce Springsteen.
This is the seventh clip in a series of eight interview audio clips with Springsteen.
In this section of my interview, Bruce Springsteen talks about his songwriting process. He describes songwriting as a “meditation,” adding that “it works best when you go into a light, trance-like situation.” Later in the interview, he calls it a “magic act”: “You literally pull something from thin air.” He adds that when he started out, his success-to-failure ratio was “five percent success to 95 percent failure.”
A significant portion of the Bruce exhibit at the Hall of Fame focuses on his songwriting. The first floor of the exhibit includes a songwriting notebook from his early band Steel Mill, as well as numerous lyric manuscripts from his first three albums. The second floor of the exhibit features one entire wall of lyric manuscripts, including his notebooks for Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, Born in the U.S.A. and The Rising. It also features a table and chair. According to Bruce, he wrote many of his most famous songs while sitting at that table, which was in his house in New Jersey.
Chief Curator Jim Henke talks to Bruce Springsteen
This is the first in a series of eight interview audio clips with Springsteen that we will post over the next several weeks. Be sure to check back here weekly to listen to the newest clip.
In March, prior to the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s new exhibit, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen, I had the good fortune to go to New Jersey to interview Bruce. When I arrived at his house, Bruce was in a small studio room off the kitchen, wailing away on his guitar. His recording engineer, Toby Scott, was behind the board. Toby had played a major role in putting the exhibit together, serving as my main point person in the Springsteen camp to help me select the many artifacts for the exhibit. They finished laying down the track, and Bruce and I sat down in his living room to do the interview. He told me stories about several of the items in the exhibit. Everything went very smoothly, with one exception: Bruce’s rather large cat kept running into the room ...
This month marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Yes, the music festival that had such an impact on our culture took place 40 years ago! Those babies who were born at Woodstock are now 40 years old! And nowadays, it seems like everyone you ask claims they were at Woodstock. Well, I wasn’t there. I was still a teenager, too young to drive. And I’m sure my parents would not have let me go even if I could have driven. But, like so many others, I watched the coverage on the television and read the stories in the newspapers. Then, when the movie was finally released, I was able to experience the great music that was made at Woodstock. Yes, there were music festivals before Woodstock, but none of them had the cultural impact that Woodstock did. It was a cultural milestone, the coming of age of the peace and love generation. It was no longer our parents’ world. It was our world. We were against the war in Vietnam. We loved rock and roll and we proved that three days of peace, love and music among half a million dirty, hungry young people was possible. Yes, Woodstock ...