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50 Years Ago: Beatlemania and the Instruments that Conquered America

Friday, February 7: 10:53 a.m.
Posted by Andy Babiuk
The Beatles rehearse before appearing on Ed Sullivan in 1964

Sunday, February 9, 1964 was the day that changed music and pop culture forever. The Ed Sullivan Show was one of the most popular television programs in the United States and at 8pm Eastern Standard Time, the Beatles made their live debut on American national television before an estimated 73 million people. This single television appearance mesmerized an entire generation. How many future musicians’ dreams began that day? How many kids were inspired to form bands and be like the Beatles? Virtually every famous American rock musician would say later: “When I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan it changed my life.”

It was on that Sunday night that the Beatles conquered America and Beatlemania had taken hold of the nation. Their music, mop-top hairstyles, matching suits and "Beatle" boots all helped create the image that we all know and love, but it was their instruments that also made a huge impression on everyone watching. Paul McCartney’s Hofner 500/1 bass, John Lennon’s 325 Rickenbacker guitar, George Harrison’s Gretsch Country Gentleman and Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum set, all became extensions of each of their personalities.

This instrumental lineup was a major part of America’s first ...


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Road Trip Soundtrack: The Rock Hall's Essential Driving Songs

Friday, September 21: 2 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
Rock Hall President and CEO Terry Stewart shares his essential driving songs

Between movies such as 1977's Smokey and the Bandit and 1981's The Cannonball Run – both starring Burt Reynolds – I've long dreamt of hitting the open road with adventure at every turn. When the first film debuted in the late 70s, I was driving a 1967 Ram Air Oldsmobile 442. Of course, with that kind of equipment at my disposal, visions of cross country exploits were inevitable. Alas, it wasn't to be. Jobs, money, a switch to a Toyota Celica and a fear of going to jail derailed those fantasies for good. Or so I thought.

Lo and behold, I now have a chance to live out that dream… sort of. Come Sunday, September 23, I am embarking on the 2012 Fireball Run: Northern Exposure, along with three other teammates. The only difference between this adventure and those on-screen antics I was so captivated by is that we can't speed. The Fireball is more like a game of Trivial Pursuit for eight hours each day, for a week, in a moving automobile traveling a circuitous route from Independence, Ohio, to Bangor, Maine. It's not an exact facsimile, but I'll take it. 

Which leads ...


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