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The Genius of Michael Jackson

Monday, April 18: 11:05 a.m.
Posted by Steve Knopper

Michael Jackson Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Billie Jean album cover art

I was born just a hair too late for the Jackson 5, so the first time I listened to Michael Jackson was probably around 1974, when he and Roberta Flack sang that charming and funny duet "When We Grow Up" in the cartoonish kids' bedroom in "Free to Be . . . You and Me." I was in high school in the 80s, and watched MTV all the time, so "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" were inescapable. Regrettably, back then, I was kind of a classic rock snob, so I paid most attention to "We Are the World," because Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan were on it. In the early 90s, when I became a music writer, I made up for it and fell hard for Off the Wall and Thriller.

Then when my daughter, Rose, was 4 or 5, she fell in love with "Goin' Back to Indiana," and we had to listen to it 400 times a day. That eventually brought us to "Billie Jean," which we watched on YouTube together, over and over. It's just mesmerizing.

How does Michael make his body do those things? How does he get his leg so high? How does he look like he ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Library and Archives, Exhibit, Event

Essential Listening from the 2016 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees

Friday, April 8: 1:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, NWA, Bert Berns Cleveland

The Rock Hall's award-winning education department debated, arm-wrestled and ultimately high-fived their way into answering one impossible question: what song is each 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's definitive track? A tall order, to be sure, but here goes it:

Deep Purple – "Smoke on the Water" (1972)
Seriously. That riff. Who can't hum it? Formed in London in 1968, Deep Purple embraced the sounds of progressive rock, psychedelia-influenced blues and heavy metal, but the group of musicians always fit squarely within the hard rock genre that they helped solidify. Back to that guitar riff – a distinctive, repeated melody with a driving rhythm that builds a song's energy. The opening to Purple's "Smoke on the Water" is arguably the most famous riff in rock history. All credit to guitar extraordinaire Ritchie Blackmore, who took four simple chords and transformed it into a monster of a melody. But it wasn't just the notes. The rhythm of the riff is equally important: Blackmore mutes—or forcibly stops—the chords strategically to highlight the song's backbeat, which anticipates Ian Paice's drumbeat. Add a liberal dose of distortion to Blackmore's guitar and boom!: hard rock history ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Event, Hall of Fame

Sam Cooke's magnum opus "A Change Is Gonna Come"

Tuesday, February 9: 4:21 p.m.

the story of Sam Cooke "A Change Is Gonna Come" Rock and Roll Hall of Fame music history

Without a doubt, Sam Cooke was one of the most influential performers in the history of American popular music. His work cut across the genres of gospel, R&B and pop, and Cooke is credited as being one of soul music’s primary architects. 

Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1931, and his family moved to Chicago when Cooke was a toddler. He started singing in the church, and joined the most popular gospel group in the country, the Soul Stirrers, when he was still a teenager. His career with the Soul Stirrers was enough to secure his place in the annals of music history, but his ambition and talent would take him much further.

With the release of “You Send Me” in 1957, Cooke embarked upon a career in secular music that transcended the boundaries of R&B and pop. He was a pioneering figure in African-American entrepreneurship, gaining remarkable artistic control of his music and the business surrounding it. Recognizing the importance of owning publishing rights to music, he founded his own record label, SAR, with J.W. Alexander and Roy Crain in 1961, despite being courted aggressively by the leading record labels of the day. He ...


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

The Surprising Stories Behind Four Bowie Classics

Monday, January 11: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

David Bowie Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Most Popular David Bowie Songs

It's rare to talk of an artist truly being without equal, but that's exactly who David Bowie was. A remarkable visionary, Bowie was a font of wild creativity, a transformative presence constantly evolving to address and help define our times. His art entertained, challenged and enlightened us all - and that will be an enduring legacy celebrated for many generations to come.

With tributes to the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee powering in from around the world, we take a look at the stories behind four classic David Bowie songs and fan favorites: "Fame," "Space Oddity," "Changes" and "Ziggy Stardust."

David Bowie Young Americans album the story of David Bowie's "Fame" recording

David Bowie and John Lennon Break into "Fame" ... and Lennon Forgets It

Two weeks after finishing the mix on a David Bowie album called The Gouster, one of the producers, Tony Visconti, got a call from the artist: "David phoned to say that he and John Lennon had got together one night and recorded this song called "Fame." I hope you don't mind, Tony, but it was so spontaneous and spur of the moment... He was very apologetic and nice about it, and he said he hoped I wouldn't mind...I said that it ...


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

Madonna Shares Wild Story of First David Bowie Concert

Monday, January 11: 12:52 p.m.
Posted by Madonna

Madonna inducts David Bowie into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 speech and video

Before I saw David Bowie live, I was just your normal, dysfunctional, rebellious teenager from the Midwest, and he has truly changed my life.

I’ve always had a sentimental attachment to David Bowie, not just because I grew up with his music, but it’s because it was the first rock concert that I ever saw, and it was a major event in my life. I planned for months to go and see it. I was 15 years old, it was the end of the school year, and leading up to the week of the show, I begged my father and he said, “I absolutely refuse, over my dead body, you’re not going there, that’s where horrible people hang out,” so of course I had to go. So my best friend spent the night at my house and when we thought everyone was asleep, we snuck out of my window, which was no mean feat, as I was wearing my highest platform shoes and a long black-silk cape. Don’t ask.

We couldn’t drive, so we hitch-hiked into Detroit and I don’t know who was scarier ... the drivers that picked us up, or us in ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Event, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews

Talking Heads' David Byrne Reflects on Music of David Bowie

Monday, January 11: 12:35 p.m.
Posted by David Byrne

David Byrne of Talking Heads Inducts David Bowie into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996

When David Bowie came along, well, rock and roll needed a shot in the arm and when I first saw him it was a shock, and yet it was very familiar. It was very necessary. It was something that was needed. It was essential. And like all rock and roll, it was tasteless, it was glamorous, it was perverse, it was fun, it was crass, it was sexy, it was confusing. And like all rock and roll, it was freedom, it was pain, it was liberation, it was genocide, it was hope, it was dread, it was a dream and it was a nightmare.

It was about sex and drugs, it was about combining literature with rock and roll, with art, with anything you could name. It was about sex as an idea, and sex as a reality, and sex as a liberating force. It was about rebellion, it was about rebellion as a cliché, it was rebellion as an idea. It was about rebellion as a billboard, as an advertisement. It was about the joy of reckless prophecy. It was ironic when rock and roll became self-reverential. It was about joy and terror and confusion in our lives. It ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Event, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews

Johnny Cash's Daughter Shares Rarely Seen Side of Man in Black

Tuesday, October 6: 1 p.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

rare images of Johnny Cash from daughter Tara Cash new book about father Recollections

In 1995, Hall of Fame Inductee Johnny Cash’s youngest daughter Tara gave her famous father a book – Dad, Share Your Life With Me by Kathleen Lashier – containing 365 questions. One year later, on her birthday, he returned the book to her with answers to all the questions.

"This book helps to really paint a picture of what life was like for my Dad, what his interests were, his family traditions, his feelings about so many things... this book is one of my personal treasures, and it gives me great pleasure to share it with his fans," explains Tara.  "I was very proud of my father for not only what he accomplished, but who he was as a person and father."

Those questions and answers form the basis of Recollections, a new book based on the original Tara sent her father, though reformatted with personal notes and photos – a unique story in Cash's own handwriting.

"The main reason I wanted to share this book, is to let my father's fans see a more playful, fun and candid side of him," says Tara.

"I also wanted to give the public an inside look into another facet of my father ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews, Johnny Cash

Paul McCartney Shares Behind-the-Scenes Video From 2015 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Tuesday, July 14: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Paul McCartney Behind the Scenes VIDEO 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Cleveland

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Sir Paul McCartney surprised Beatles fans by sharing exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage from the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, where he inducted longtime friend and bandmate Ringo Starr.

The four-minute video, which was shared on McCartney's YouTube channel, begins with McCartney arriving at Cleveland’s Public Hall, later delivering a rousing: “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, baby. Cleveland. Oh yea!” 

Several inductees are featured in the video, including Stevie Wonder, who embraces McCartney and congratulates Starr. The two Beatles joke with Wonder, saying: “We’re reforming the group, man. You want to join?” We're sure the world would love to see that happen.

After a quick photo-op with 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, McCartney joins nearly all of the 2015 inductees, performers and presenters onstage to rehearse the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Then, McCartney, Ringo and Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Walsh run through Starr’s 1971 single, “It Don’t Come Easy.” 

After a clip of McCartney and Walsh reliving their glory ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Event, The Beatles, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews
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