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Collection Highlights at the Rock Hall Library and Archives

Monday, July 22: 2 p.m.
Posted by Ned Denby
Recordings for the "underground" from the KQRS collection includes early interview with Patti Smith

Since beginning my internship at the Library and Archives this summer, I've had the unique opportunity to process a number of collections, digitizing analog audio and video materials and organizing paper-based collections. Along the way, I've uncovered some real treasures. Here are some of my favorites:

The first collection I processed was the Jay Ruby Rock ‘n’ Roll Conference Lecture, an audio recording of the lecture, “'You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here': The Social Implications of Rock 'n' Roll,” given by the donor, Jay W. Ruby, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Conference at Mills College in 1967. I really enjoyed this lecture, because Ruby focuses on describing the musical communities of the time to an academic audience that may or may not have been familiar with them, going into detail about the connection between rock music and hallucinogenic drugs and religion.

I also processed the KQRS Collection, donated by Shel Danielson, a long-time disc jockey at the KQRS radio station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bulk of the collection consists of reel-to-reel recordings of commercials for concerts and albums that the station broadcasted from 1973 to 1976.  Some commercials exist in two versions: one that was broadcast ...


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War's Lonnie Jordan Talks Music, Playing with Eric Burdon and Jimi Hendrix's Final Performance

Friday, May 10: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Interview with Lonnie Jordan of War (pictured front, center), who performs live on Saturday, May 11

The six founding members of War – the late Papa Dee Allen and Charles Miller, survivors Harold Brown, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan and Howard Scott – were gigging around L.A. for nearly a decade before hooking up with Eric Burdon (ex-Animals) and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar in 1969. Burdon and producer Jerry Goldstein named them War, and they backed it up with a steamy Afro-Latin R&B groove that rocked their debut hit “Spill The Wine.”  Less than two years later, Burdon dropped out and War went their own way in 1971.  A long string of Top 10 pop/R&B crossover hits established War’s status through the Seventies, always with a social message grounded by their distinctively breezy Southern California vibe. In this interview with War founding member Lonnie Jordan, he shares his first memories of playing, how War first connected with Eric Burdon and jamming with Jimi Hendrix during what would be his last public performance. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: How did you first become interested in playing music?

Lonnie Jordan: As a kid, I used to watch old black-and-white movies. Now keep in mind I'll be 65 this year, so when ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Exclusive Interviews

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Interviews Oliver Stone

Tuesday, May 7: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Interview with film director Oliver Stone

Interview with award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, who visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and sat down with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after his visit to share his impressions of the Museum, learning more about the roots of rock and roll, the history of rock and roll and the films featured in the exhibits; as well as hearing Motown for the first time in Vietnam; a time when rock and roll was "trashed," the importance of preserving pop culture, how "music is supposed to transcend" and more. Click here to plan your visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum this summer!


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Exclusive Interviews

In the Lab with Les Paul

Friday, May 3: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alana Jansen
Les Paul performs live at the 2008 American Music Masters honoring the famed guitarist

I began my internship at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Library and Archives expecting to be busy with basic preservation tasks and minor conservation duties, such as creating enclosures for documents and rehousing materials. What I ended up doing instead was much more exciting, and it provided me with a much richer internship experience than I ever imagined.

I began by preparing the conservation lab, creating a conservation policy and expanding on the Library and Archives’ existing conservation manual. With everything in place, it was time to work on the collection most in need of treatment: the Les Paul Papers. The papers were in rough shape at the time of acquisition, as many of the documents and files were moldy and covered in rust from old staples and paper clips. The items with the most obvious mold damage were bagged and placed in quarantine until they could be cleaned, but mold seemed to be everywhere I looked in the collection.

rare Les PaulCleaning mold is not a simple task and requires special care and technique. Wearing personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, mask and apron, I carefully cleaned each item in the collection with conservation grade sponges ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Library and Archives, Exhibit

Cleveland Soul: Interview with Lou Ragland

Wednesday, February 13: 2 p.m.
Posted by Carlo Wolff
Cleveland soul man Lou Ragland will appear live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Musician Lou Ragland was born in Cleveland in 1942. His first instrument was saxophone, his choice after rejecting his high school music teacher’s suggestion he play tuba. Inspired by everyone from Brahms to Nat “King” Cole to Ella Fitzgerald, Ragland locked onto soul at 13, when he heard Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers sing “Goody Goody.” 

In the early ‘60s, Ragland sang in the storied doo-wop group the Sahibs (along with Hesitations founder Art Blakey and current Hesitation George Hendricks, who taught Ragland rudimentary guitar). He first recorded with the Bandmasters, releasing “Never Let Me Go/Party in Lester’s” on Way Out in 1965. The group waxed that 45 at Cleveland Recording on Euclid Avenue. “The Bandmasters was the music and the Sahibs were the voices, and I sang lead, ” says Ragland, who also recorded for Way Out under the name Volcanic Eruption, with George Hendricks. 

“I was the first artist they produced on Way Out, but after they found out that I could engineer and play instruments, they didn’t do anymore on me,” says Ragland. “They didn’t want to lose me to the art world, they wanted me to pump out these songs.” Way Out ...


continue Categories: Exclusive Interviews, Education, Black History Month, Foster Theatre, Event

Through the Lens of Jimmy Baynes: Cleveland Rock and Roll History

Friday, February 8: 4:40 p.m.
Posted by Jennie Thomas
Photographer Jimmy Baynes' images provide a candid look at African-American life, music and culture.

Cleveland has been a hive of live music for decades. The city experienced tremendous growth in the years following World War II and, with it, an explosion of live music venues. The core of this activity took place on the east side of the city, home to Cleveland’s African-American population. Clubs like the Music Box, the Tia Juana, Leo’s Casino and Gleason’s hosted the best jazz, blues and R&B performers the era had to offer. The economic prosperity of the time was mirrored in the pulsing entertainment scene. 

Following this lively scene was postal worker Jimmy H. Baynes (July 12, 1922 – September 9, 2010), who supplemented his weekly paycheck through Baynes Foto Service at 2220 East 87th Street, primarily photographing local events in the African-American community. Though Baynes was not a trained photographer, the images he created over  three decades, from the 1950s into the 1980s – whether they are of weddings, beauty competitions, burlesque shows or live music performances  – provide an authentic and candid glimpse into African-American life, music and culture. Throughout the years, Baynes’ photographs appeared in Cleveland magazines and newspapers, such as the Call and Post.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Library and Archives, Education, Black History Month

Spotlight Exhibit: 2-Tone Records

Tuesday, December 4: 5 a.m.
2 Tone is the focus of new Spotlight Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

In this post, Rock Hall curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger, who traveled to the UK to collect and research for a new 2-Tone Records exhibit, shares background on the label and its lasting impact on popular culture.

Between 1979 and 1986, the 2-Tone label released 28 singles – 20 of which charted in the U.K. – including hits by the Specials, the Selecter, Madness, the Bodysnatchers and the Beat (known as the English Beat outside of the U.K.). Although only the English Beat –and to a lesser extent, Madness – ever had much success outside of the U.K., the 2-Tone movement combined infectious dance music and progressive ideals to confront the status quo. 2-Tone laid the groundwork for the success of such American artists as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Toasters, Fishbone, Smash Mouth, Sublime, Reel Big Fish, the Pietasters and the multi-platinum selling No Doubt.

Two Tone record label exhibit reggae punk ska2-Tone was a group of black and white kids from Coventry, Birmingham and London, England – white punk rockers and black rude-boys and -girls who stood against the economic policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government and the Neo-Nazi National Front, promoted racial harmony through the irresistible and exuberant rhythm of ska music and revolutionized ...


continue Categories: Exhibit, Spotlight Exhibit

Chuck Berry at the Rock Hall's Library and Archives

Tuesday, November 6: 5:21 p.m.
Posted by Andy Leach
Chuck Berry and his wife Themetta visit the Rock Hall's Library and Archives on October 27, 2012

On Saturday, October 27, we were truly honored when Hall of Fame Inductee and 2012 American Music Masters honoree Chuck Berry – along with his family, band members, and friends – paid a visit to the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives. After I gave them a brief overview of the Library and Archives and a quick tour of our Library Reading Room, Berry and his group spent time viewing the materials in our Chuck Berry archival exhibit, which was curated by our head archivist Jennie Thomas. Next, the Rock Hall's curatorial director Howard Kramer and I led the group into our Archives Reading Room, where I had pulled out a number of materials from our collections in advance of the group’s visit.

These materials included posters from 1950s rock and roll shows featuring Berry himself, as well as legendary performers such as Big Joe Turner, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James; photographs of Louis Jordan from various archival collections; recording session logs from the Milt Gabler Papers; our collection of Big Joe Turner’s personal papers, which includes letters, passports and photographs; 78-rpm records of the Nat King Cole Trio and the Benny Goodman Sextet (the latter featuring one ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Library and Archives, Education, Exhibit
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