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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

Otis Redding's Last Day in Cleveland

Friday, December 9: 4 p.m.
Otis Redding

December 9, 1967 was a busy day for Otis Redding. The first stop on his winter tour was Cleveland, Ohio, where he was scheduled to appear on the locally produced, nationally syndicated (in 98 markets around the country) television show Upbeat, as well as perform two concerts at legendary nightclub Leo’s Casino. The singer was eager to get back on the road after a three-month break recovering from surgery for throat polyps. He had just recorded what was to become the biggest and most enduring hit of his career, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Redding started that Saturday at the WEWS studios at 30th and Euclid Avenue for Upbeat rehearsals. Upbeat host Don Webster recalled on the website clevelandseniors.com that typically the show would be rehearsed from about 9 am until noon, working on the technical aspects like blocking and lighting. After that, the production team and talent would break for lunch and come back at 1 pm to do the taping. It would take two to three hours to tape the one-hour show. That show was broadcast at 5 pm, the same day of the taping. Webster never did a lot of pre-interviewing, feeling that ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Today in Rock

American Music Masters Moments: Les Paul

Wednesday, October 26: 2 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Slash and Les Paul at 2008 American Music Masters® event

American Music Masters Moments: Les Paul is the first installment in a series that shares stories from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters® events through the years. Beginning in 1996 with a tribute to Woody Guthrie, the American Music Masters series has honored artists who've been instrumental in the development of rock and roll with a range of events celebrating their careers. Each AMM brings together musicians from around the world, setting the stage for special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. These are those stories. 

From their inception in 1996, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s American Music Masters programs have been sensational, but the one that I have the fondest memories of is the 2008 tribute to Les Paul. One of the great highlights of my job is the fact that I was lucky enough to get to know Les. In 2004, I worked with Les to put together and exhibit The New Sound: Les Paul and the Electric Guitar. When the exhibit opened, Les and his trio came to Cleveland and performed on the main stage in the museum’s lobby. That exhibit is still up on the second floor of ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exhibit, Event

Today in Rock: Wanda Jackson is Born

Thursday, October 20: 9 a.m.
Wanda Jackson

The rockabilly field of the 1950s wasn’t exactly crowded with female performers, but Wanda Jackson didn’t let that stop her from making her mark. Born on October 20, 1937, she emerged from a small town in Oklahoma to become the first Queen of Rockabilly. With encouragement from Elvis Presley, whom she met while on a package tour in 1955, Jackson moved from country music to rock and roll. "I was just doing straight country, and that's all I had ever planned on doing. [Elvis] started talking to me about his kind of music – we didn't really have a name for it at that point," said Jackson during a 2009 Hall of Fame series interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Vice President of Education and Public Programs Lauren Onkey. "I said look, I love it of course, but you're a guy, you can sing it, and I just don't think I can do it. He just kept insisting that I could do it – he said, 'you got the voice.' He took me out to his home in Memphis, and we played records that afternoon. 

"He made me promise that somewhere along ...


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Pioneers of Rock

Monday, September 19: 1 p.m.
Ruth Brown topped the R&B chart with “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" in 1953

"Pioneers of Rock" is the second installment in a special series that highlights the evolution of women in music by placing their accomplishments, inspirations and influence in the context of the eras that shaped their sounds and messages. "America's Foremothers" introduced the series.

As World War II ended in 1945 and G.I.s returned home, the proportion of women on assembly lines fell from 25 percent to 7.5 percent. Women who had – out of necessity – taken an unprecedented place in the work force were urged back into the home by books like 1947’s Modern Woman: The Lost Sex. The book argued that only a return to traditional values and gender roles could restore “women’s inner balance.”

Female rock and roll pioneers were less interested in restoring “women’s inner balance” than they were seeking an even playing field. Taking cues from Jackie Robinson’s and Larry Doby’s breaking the color line in baseball in 1947, and from President Truman’s desegregating the U.S. Armed Forces with the signing of Executive Order 9981 in 1948, American culture and the music business was at the birth of a new age. As with the birth of ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Education

Memorializing Les Paul

Tuesday, September 13: 1:51 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Les Paul memorial in Waukesha, Wisconsin

This past Saturday, I was fortunate to be in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to take part in the dedication of a memorial to Hall of Fame inductee Les Paul. The memorial is in Prairie Home Cemetery, where the legendary guitarist is buried. The event was attended by Les’ family and friends, including his son Russ. Michael Braunstein, Les’ longtime manager and the executive director of the Les Paul Foundation, served as the emcee of the event. Others in attendance included Lou Pallo, who played guitar in the Les Paul Trio for almost 30 years, Henry Juszkiewicz, the chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar, and Ron Sturm, the owner of the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, where Les played shows every Monday night, from 1995 until his death in 2009.

All of the speakers heaped tons of praise on Les. His son said, “He was a person who hit a lot of hearts,” and that was clear from the commentaries. Lou Pallo said: “He was a genius. He was a great, great, great musician.” Gibson’s Juszkiewicz also called Les a “genius,” and he talked about his inventiveness. Speaking about the house where Les lived in New Jersey, the Gibson CEO ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exclusive Interviews, Event

From Breaking Ground to Ground Breaking: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Thursday, September 1: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Pete Townshend at June, 7, 1993 groundbreaking ceremony.

In September 1995, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors in Cleveland. It was a dream more than a decade in the making and one that continues to grow as the Hall prepares to open its Library and Archives in 2012, advancing its mission to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music.

The Hall of Fame and Museum was the brainchild of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, the nonprofit organization launched in 1983 and led by Atlantic Records Founder and Chairman Ahmet Ertegun, along with Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, attorney Allen Grubman, manager Jon Landau, record executives Seymour Stein and Bob Krasnow, and attorney Suzan Evans. The group sought to establish an organization that recognized "the people who have created this music which has become the most popular music of our time.”

Officials from Cleveland and the State of Ohio approached the Foundation in 1985 and suggested the construction of a major museum. For more than a year, the Foundation considered Cleveland and numerous other cities, including New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Memphis and Chicago ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee
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