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Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." 30th Anniversary

Wednesday, June 11: 7 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." turns 30

Released in June 1984, Born in the U.S.A. remains among the best-selling albums in rock and roll history, with seven Top 10 hits that sent 1999 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bruce Springsteen's rock stardom into the stratosphere. Its narrative tone had much in common with 1982's stark, somber and critically lauded Nebraska, with many of the songs that comprised Born in the U.S.A. beginning life in the same sessions that produced that album. The root influences of blues, American folk songs and the new cinematic style of directors such as Martin Scorsese and Terrence Malick brought a darker and more introspective view to the characters. “I’m on Fire,” for example, was a song of desire, compulsion and personal struggle that became a Top 10 hit in 1985, despite its intense subject matter.

However, Born in the U.S.A. also traded in more nostalgic storytelling and tongue-in-cheek humor on tracks like "Glory Days" and "Dancing in the Dark" – all of which proved especially resonant with audiences around the country. Thanks in no small part to 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees the E Street Band, the arrangements were ...


continue Categories: History of Rock and Roll, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Today in Rock

Folk-rock findings at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives

Tuesday, June 3: 5 p.m.

Recently, I gave a presentation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives about my books on 1960s folk-rock. Most of it was centered around rare film clips, but I was also asked to talk a bit about the research I’ve done at the library over the past two weeks (thanks to a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation). This is for the expanded ebook edition of my two-volume work on 1960s folk-rock, Turn! Turn! Turn! (published as a print edition in 2002) and Eight Miles High (published as a print edition in 2003), which I’m combining into a single ebook, Jingle Jangle Morning: Folk-Rock in the 1960s.

It would take many hours and many pages to cover all of the material I’ve discovered at the library. So I used just a few images to illustrate how rare items could shed some light on folk-rock’s history, even after having written about it for 600 pages in the print editions. All of these are taken from ads that appeared between 1965 and 1967 in Cash Box, the biggest music trade magazine besides Billboard, but (unlike Billboard) very hard to find copies of these ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Bob Dylan, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Hall of Fame, Library and Archives

Banned, "Dirty Water" and Punk: Interview with the Standells

Thursday, May 15: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Standells' "Dirty Water" banned in Boston.

With songs like "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White," "Why Pick on Me" and "Riot on the Sunset Strip," the Standells brand of cranked-up garage rock in the 60s earned them a reputation as among the godfathers of punk rock. The fact their music has been covered by the likes of Aerosmith, Minor Threat, Bruce Springsteen and U2 – not too mention a litany of punk acts emerging in 1977 – illustrates that their knack for punchy hooks has engendered them to musicians and fans alike.

With an instantly recognizable-and easy to play-guitar intro, "Dirty Water" became a garage band staple in 1966. Onetime Four Preps member Ed Cobb wrote the song, but the Los Angeles–based Standells version recorded in a  garage studio in southern California turned it into a growling classic. Once squeaky-clean, the Standells went proto-punk in a bid to glom onto the bad-boy image of British groups like the Rolling Stones and the Animals. Drummer/vocalist Dick Dodd (a former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer) sneered his way through this tale of unrequited lust and of vitriol aimed at Boston. That city retaliated by banning "Dirty Water," which didn't hurt sales. The canny Standells went on to ...


continue Categories: History of Punk, History of Rock and Roll, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, Rolling Stones, Exclusive Interviews

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Whole Lotta Love"

Wednesday, May 7: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
"Led Zeppelin II" gets re-release with new versions of "Whole Lotta Love" and more.

This week, it was announced that Hall of Fame Inductees Led Zeppelin would be reissuing their first three albums with a series of box sets featuring previously unheard mixes, live versions and one unreleased track. In advance of Led Zeppelin II's re-release, the group shared a radio edit of a rough mix of the classic cut "Whole Lotta Love" that sounds quite different than the famous radio-staple studio version, most notably Jimmy Page's guitar parts and Robert Plant's vocals. It's a mix as intriguing to listeners as the song's controversial – sometimes litigious – history.

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Plant remembers the first time he noted similarities between a Zep-credited composition and an obscure but not that obscure blues. JPage's response was "shut up and keep walking."  Led Zeppelin almost got away with "Whole Lotta Love." The crunching riff and relentless thud that opens Led Zeppelin II could be attributed to few other bands in 1969. But as the lyrics unfolded, certain listeners got a dose of deja vu. "Whole Lotta Love" distinctly recalled the Small Faces' number "You Need Loving." Had the ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The Top 10 Concert Festival Moments in Rock and Roll History

Wednesday, April 23: 6 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

In March 2014, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum invited fans around the globe to vote for the greatest festival moments in the history of rock and roll. Thousands of votes were cast, and when the results were tallied, a Top 10 emerged. Here are those amazing festival moments, from Newport Folk to Woodstock, Monterey Pop to Lollapalooza; from Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters to Nine Inch Nails.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, opens a new feature exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience, on April 25, 2014.


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, The Greatest Festivals in Rock and Roll History, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, History of the Blues, History of Rock and Roll, Exhibit, Inductee

2014 Hall of Fame Inductions: 5 Essential Kiss Songs

Wednesday, April 9: 8:45 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Few bands short of the Beatles inspired more kids to play the guitar and drums than KISS. With their signature makeup, explosive stage show and anthems like “Rock And Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City,” they are the very personification of rock stars. Original members Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons came together in New York in 1972. While their first two records did not generate many sales, they quickly gained a national following for their bombastic, pyro-filled stage show. Their 1975 live album Alive! captured that energy and reached Number Nine on the charts, quickly making them one of the most popular bands of the 1970s – scoring countless hit singles, sold-out tours and appearing everywhere from comic books to lunch boxes to their very own TV movie. In 1977, KISS received a People’s Choice Award for the song “Beth.” Ace Frehley and Peter Criss left the band in the early 1980s to pursue solo careers, while KISS regrouped with a different lineup of musicians. Another major change was the group’s decision to take off their makeup for 1983’s Lick It Up. They continued to be a popular live draw, but in 1996 ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Rolling Stones, History of Rock and Roll, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

2014 Hall of Fame Inductions: 5 Essential Nirvana Songs

Wednesday, April 9: 8 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

It only takes one song to start a rock revolution. That trigger, in late 1991, was “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” an exhilarating blast of punk-rock confrontation by Nirvana, a scruffy trio from Seattle. “Teen Spirit,” its moshpit-party video and Nirvana’s kinetic live shows propelled their second album, Nevermind, to Number One and turned singer-guitarist-songwriter Kurt Cobain into the voice and conscience of an alternative-rock nation sick of hair metal and the conservative grip of the Reagan-Bush ‘80s. Founded by Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in the logging town of Aberdeen, Washington, Nirvana were underground stars when they made 1989’s Bleach with drummer Chad Channing. Moving from the indie Sub Pop label to Geffen, the band – with drummer Dave Grohl – packed Cobain’s corrosive riffs, emotionally acute writing and twin passions for the Beatles and post-punk bands like the Melvins and the Pixies into Nevermind. A multi-platinum seller, it included the hits “Come As You Are” and “Lithium” and opened the mainstream gates for Green Day, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. In 1993, Nirvana released the caustic masterpiece, In Utero, and gave a historic performance on MTV’s Unplugged. But in April 1994, Cobain – suffering from drug addiction and ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

2014 Hall of Fame Inductions: 5 Essential Cat Stevens Songs

Tuesday, April 8: 8:15 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

The musical odyssey of Cat Stevens is well documented, from teenage London art school songsmith (“The First Cut Is The Deepest,” the Tremeloes’ “Here Comes My Baby”) to introspective cornerstone of the 1970s singer-songwriter movement. Who can measure the courage it took him in the late 70s, after seven years of multi-platinum success in the U.S. (and over a decade in the UK) to convert to Islam, amidst the wave of turmoil and confusion that was engulfing the world? He left his touring and recording life behind and named himself Yusuf Islam. Inevitably, many longtime fans abandoned him, and he found certain international borders closed and worse yet, controversies on his doorstep despite his humanist background. It was 17 difficult years between his final LP as Cat Stevens (1978’s Back To Earth), and the first CD as Yusuf and more than a decade until his first pop album in nearly 30 years (An Other Cup in 2006). “When I accepted Islam,” he told Rolling Stone, “a lot of people couldn’t understand. To my fans it seemed that my entering Islam was the direct cause of me leaving the music business, so many people were upset. However, I ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
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