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Spotlight Exhibit: Joy Division / New Order

Friday, February 3: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Joy Division / New Order bassist Peter Hook in front of the Spotlight Exhibit with his bass

The members of Joy Division were post-punk visionaries. In contrast to the raw fury of the British punk scene that gave birth to the band, Joy Division created a more nuanced, expressive template for emphatically projecting discontent. Tortured lead singer Ian Curtis' introspective lyrics and melancholic worldview were reflected in the band's manic live performances and moody arrangements. This motif was captured in songs like "Disorder," "Transmission" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart." In addition to Curtis' vocals, Bernard Sumner's angular guitar work and Stephen Morris' frenetic drumming, the band's signature sound owed much to the bass of Peter Hook, who cultivated a lead-bass style that rejected the notion of a bassist's sole role as being backup. "I never did really play bass, because I always found it intensely annoying whenever some twat of a guitarist would turn around to you and say, 'could you play the root note?' said Hook during a 2010 interview at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "Luckily, I found a style."

That signature style involved playing lead lines high on the fretboard, creating melodies that were often mimicked in the vocals. “That came about early, when ...


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Five Minutes with Fame: Hollywood Undead

Friday, November 18: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Hollywood Undead

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is pleased to partner with Microsoft Zune for Five Minutes with Fame, an exclusive video series on the Zune Marketplace featuring singers, songwriters and bands at the forefront of today's music. After a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum, we sit down with artists to talk about their music, their road to success, inspirations, being on tour and of course, some of their favorite artists and artifacts highlighted in the Museum. This week's featured artist is Hollywood Undead.

As their name not-so subtly suggests, Hollywood Undead emerged from the music scene in Tinseltown, combining elements of hip-hop and hardcore in a sound they call "heavy pop." The first incarnation of the band took shape in 2005, and evolved into the six mask-wearing musicians that compose Hollywood Undead today: Johnny 3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Da Kurlzz, Funny Man and Daniel "Danny" Murillo.

The band's debut album Swan Songs was released in 2008, selling more than 800,000 copies worldwide. Sales were helped by two years on the road that found the band headlining international gigs and on the bill at major festivals, including the Download Festival in the UK ...


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Five Minutes with Fame: Rick Ross

Friday, November 11: 4:15 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Rick Ross

Six-foot-two, 300-pound Rick Ross – a “hip-hop heavyweight,” as described by the New York Times – rose from Miami’s underground rap scene to become 2006’s buzz-worthiest hip-hop artist with Port Of Miami, his Number 1 Pop/Number 1 R&B/Number 1 Rap major label debut album. Its lead single “Hustlin’” became the first mastertone ever certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of 1 million copies before the associated album had even been released.  A remix was subsequently issued, featuring Jay-Z and Young Jeezy. Port Of Miami’s second single was “Push It,” which sampled Giorgio Moroder’s “Scarface (Push It To The Limit),” evoking the gritty soul of a city that is always on the edge of exploding.

"I always started off, first and foremost, with my love for music, my passion for music," says Ross. "Not only hip-hop music, but all genres of music, whether it was R&B, rock and roll… I was just a music lover, and I think that's where my love for writing really began to mold, you know, at a young age."

Ross further came into his own on 2008's Trilla, whose second single release, “The Boss,” featuring T-Pain, rose ...


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Hall of Fame Series with Spooner Oldham

Friday, November 11: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Spooner Oldham

On November 2, 2011, Hall of Fame inductee Spooner Oldham spoke with and performed for a sold-out audience in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Foster Theater. Oldham is a linchpin of Southern Soul and the Alabama sound, a fixture of famed Muscle Shoals and FAME studios, where his keyboard playing enlivened some of the biggest rock and roll songs of the past 50 years, including Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man," Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." Together with singer-songwriter Dan Penn, Spooner contributed a number of classics to the canon of rock, co-writing "Cry Like a Baby" by the Box Tops, "It Tears Me Up" by Percy Sledge and "I'm Your Puppet" by James and Bobby Purify. 

Born Dewey Lyndon "Spooner" Oldham in Center Star, Alabama, Oldham is one of rock's most in-demand players, appearing on records and tours with luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Neil Young, in addition to newer act Drive-By Truckers. 

During his Hall of Fame series interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum director of education Jason Hanley, Oldham talked about ...


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Reflections on Aretha Franklin with Melinda Doolittle

Friday, November 4: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Melinda Doolittle

Melinda Doolittle has performed as a backup singer for musical legends such as Michael McDonald, Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville, and finishd third on the sixth season of American Idol. Doolittle has also performed at the White House, the Musicians Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and she has shared the stage with Peter Cetera, Cyndi Lauper, the Boston Pops Orchestra and more.

Doolittle's debut album, Coming Back to You (2009), produced by Grammy-nominated Mike Mangini, garnered positive reviews from critics, including  The New York Times, which noted that the album "succeeds mightily." Doolittle recently penned an autobiography, Beyond Me (2010) and is currently in the studio writing and recording songs for the release of her next album. This week, the Rock Hall caught up with Doolite, who will perform at the Aretha Franklin tribute concert at PlayhouseSquare's State Theatre on November 5.

Rock Hall: What is your first memory of hearing Aretha Franklin's music? 

Melinda Doolittle: I remember being a young girl and my Daddy playing "Respect" for me. I loved that there was a song that made it okay to be sassy. That was the only time I was allowed to wag ...


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Reflections on Aretha Franklin with Kris Bowers

Friday, November 4: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Kris Bowers

Pianist Kris Bowers has shared the stage and/or recorded with jazz artists such as Terell Stafford, Vincent Herring, Louis Hayes, Casey Benjamin and Kenneth Whalum II. He has continued performing in a number of other genres, working with Murs, Q-Tip, Josè James, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Bowers can be heard on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s latest album, Watch the Throne. He has also performed for notable individuals including Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and President Barack Obama. Bowers was the winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk Institute International Piano Competition, where he caught the attention of judges Jason Moran, Herbie Hancock, Danilo Perez, Renee Rosnes and Ellis Marsalis. He is pursuing his Masters in Jazz Performance with a focus on film composition at Juilliard. Bowers is currently forming his own band and will be releasing his debut album on Concord Records next year. This week, the Rock Hall caught up withBowers, who will perform at the Aretha Franklin tribute concert at PlayhouseSquare's State Theater on November 5.

Rock Hall: What is your first memory of hearing Aretha Franklin's music? 

Kris Bowers: Growing up, Aretha was one of the handful of artists my parents always ...


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Aretha's Amazing Grace

Wednesday, November 2: 1 p.m.
Posted by Aaron Cohen
Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace (1972)

It’s a great thrill for me to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s American Music Masters conference on the Queen of Soul on Saturday, November 5, and I’m grateful for the Rock Hall providing me this opportunity to discuss my new book about Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace.

While Amazing Grace is Franklin's most accomplished and best-selling LP, it is also an album that's frequently overlooked – even among many of Franklin’s biggest fans. None of the songs on it became pop hits, nor were they intended to be. When she made this recording in 1972, just before her 30th birthday, her voice was at its peak. Her best band backed her, including the fantastic drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, who is also part of Saturday's conference and will be sitting in on drums during Saturday night's tribute concert at PlayhouseSquare's State Theater. She was collaborating with James Cleveland, leader of the Southern California Community Choir, and whose voice was as influential in gospel as Franklin's became in rock and soul. Most important, she recorded the album live, at a church in Los Angeles, and in doing so revisited the ...


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Blind Boys of Alabama Live!

Tuesday, November 1: 10 a.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
The Blind Boys of Alabama

It seems as if the Blind Boys of Alabama have always existed. Of course, given my tender age and the fact the Blind Boys began performing in 1939 when they met at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind, my observation is right on the money.

Growing up, I was fascinated by the Blind Boys of Alabama, especially given our origins in the same state, my hometown being Mobile. Being the member of an all-white Methodist church that never sang more than two songs on any Sunday and never got more rousing than "Onward, Christian Soldiers," I was taken back when I first heard the stirring screams, hoops, hollers and calls coming from this amazing singing group. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. The Blind Boys' music was mesmerizing then, and it still is today. Songs such as 1948's "I Can See Everybody's Mother But Mine" continue to resonate among gospel, R&B and rock and roll artists. 

More than 70 years after they first formed, the Blind Boys of Alabama are still at it, having recently released Take The High Road, which pulls together a talented group of players that once again highlights the ...


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