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How Cynthia Robinson Made Sure We Were All Cool

Wednesday, November 25: 11:48 a.m.

Sly and The Family Stone Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Cynthia Robinson dead at age 69

I was just an elementary school kid when I first heard “Dance to the Music,” Sly and the Family Stone’s first hit single, in spring 1968. The song was on the radio all the time. If it wasn’t on the Top 40/pop stations WIXY or CKLW, you just had to dial up to WJMO or WABQ, the R&B/ soul stations, to hear Cynthia Robinson’s cheeky introductory demand:  “Get up and dance to the music! Get on up and dance to the funky music!”

Cynthia Robinson was one half of the horn section of the Family Stone and the de facto MC – that’s MC in the early days of hip-hop sense – the “mic controller” who would punctuate dance tracks with enjoinders to “get up” or “get down” to the music to keep dancers engaged and moving on their feet. Cynthia was doing it 10 years before the Sugarhill Gang or Grandmaster Flash dropped their first beat.

That’s just one more way that Cynthia was ahead of her time, a pioneer, showing the rest of us the way. She was a strong female presence in a band – not a vocalist, as was the usual position ...

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

The Sound of California Craze Goes Live with Brian Wilson

Thursday, November 19: 4:20 p.m.
Posted by Carl Harp

Brian Wilson Beach Boys live concert Cincinnati, Ohio, set list November 2015

Brian Wilson has long been an inspiration to his contemporaries and hopeful songwriters around the globe. Much of the popular music that has followed in his creative wake owes a debt to the much-mythologized (and biopic friendly) frontman.  

“Brian Wilson is a genius,” says two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Graham Nash in a video featured in the Rock Hall's Touching the Flame exhibit. “Pet Sounds was a journey from start to finish, and I think that was recognized by John (Lennon) and Paul (McCartney) when they started Sgt. Pepper's… The idea of turning a long-playing record into an actual mental journey was brilliant. Brian Wilson started it, and John and Paul really finished it off.”

But decades later, how would that translate live? Was Brian Wilson a charismatic live performer able to carry the interest of a crowd or better suited to his own devices in the studio? Would any former Beach Boys bandmates reunite with Wilson? I had questions, and on Saturday, November 14, Brian Wilson brought his “No Pier Pressure” tour to the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, Ohio, giving me answers.

Brian Wilson and Al Jardine Beach Boys live concert Taft Theater Cincinnati Ohio November 2015

The setlist mostly featured Beach Boys songs penned by the eldest Wilson ...

continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Graham Nash, Event, The Beatles, Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame

Dead & Company Raise Spirits on Night of Paris Attacks

Wednesday, November 18: 5:02 p.m.
Posted by Carl Harp

Dead & Co concert John Mayer November 13 2015 columbus ohio

Compassion, peace and a celebratory atmosphere have loyally followed the Grateful Dead for five decades, yet the reformed group's November 13, 2015 concert began on a somber note.
After taking the stage with his Dead & Company bandmates, grabbing his guitar and briefly warming his fingers, Bob Weir started the show with a eulogy: “So to begin, we have some bad news from Paris. And really I think the best thing we can do, all of us are doing, is remember, celebrate the lives of the 60 or so Parisian concertgoers who died today at the hands of religious extremists, who if they had their way, would outlaw music in all the world." He implored Deadheads to celebrate the lives of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks "and the joy that they found in music.”

For the hours leading up to the Dead & Company tour stop at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena, social media feeds and news reports were filled with the news unfolding across the globe; and with tragedy occurring at a concert, I could not help feel grief, slight paranoia and empathy.

Dead & Co concert John Mayer November 13 2015 columbus ohio

Following Weir’s dedication, he and the band (John Mayer on guitar and ...

continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Hall of Fame, Rare Performances

JoJo Interview: Love, Songwriting, the Jackson 5 and Smokey Robinson

Wednesday, November 4: 3:22 p.m.
Posted by JoJo

On Saturday, November 7, 2015, JoJo will perform as part of the Rock Hall's Music Masters tribute to Smokey Robinson presented by Klipsch audio. Get your tickets before they're all gone!

Video interview with singer JoJo talking love and Jackson 5 and Smokey Robinson and Motown

I didn't even realize the impact that Smokey Robinson had on me until a few years ago, but his influence is so far-reaching. You can't listen to music - particularly American music - without being touched by Smokey.

I think my first introduction to him was through the Jackson 5, through [the Jackson 5 song] "Who's Lovin' You."

And I was just a huge Jackson 5 fan. I knew all the songs. I loved the Motown sound and just music that was coming up from that time.

I didn't know until a few years ago that Smokey Robinson had written ["Who's Lovin' You"].
So, the fact that I'm going get to sing it to honor him at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is really trippy.

It's such an incredible song. The way he writes about love is unparalleled. He is the original person to sing, to write about, to really capture the feeling of longing, and being in love, and ...

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Smokey, Leo, Motown and the Coolest Gig in Cleveland

Monday, November 2: 2:19 p.m.

Hear Motown legends Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson and Smokey Robinson himself tell stories about creating Motown history at the Rock Hall's Music Masters conference on Saturday, November 7, 2015!

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles live concert at Leo's Casino in Cleveland in 1965 newspaper review Motown

Ask any Clevelander who heard Smokey Robinson perform here early on in his career, and they’ll likely tell you about Leo’s Casino.

Leo’s Casino, designated a historic rock and roll landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, stood at 7500 Euclid Avenue on Cleveland’s east side. From the time it opened in 1963, Leo’s featured Motown artists on a regular basis. “It was a very important club to us,” Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., told The Plain Dealer. The Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and – of course – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were among the acts that played there, often using the 700-seat, racially integrated venue to hone their acts.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles live in Cleveland in 1968 at Leo's Casino concert performance newspaper advertisementThroughout the 1960s, the Miracles returned to Leo’s Casino at least once a year for a four-evening stint, performing as many as three shows each night. One of these performances was even filmed in 1966 for a nationally televised documentary on the Miracles. In addition to playing ...

continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Event

Backstage at the Beatles 1964 Concert in Cleveland

Monday, October 26: 12:45 p.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

Photographer George Shuba The Beatles 1964 concert in Cleveland police

"It took an iconic radio station, WHK, and an anglophile disc jockey, Ron Britton, to bring what is arguably the most popular British rock group ever, the Beatles, to Cleveland, Ohio, the 'Home of Rock and Roll,'" says Lynn Jones, who was a young boy when the Fab Four made their concert debut in Cleveland. "On September 15, 1964, the Cleveland rock and roll world exploded, first on Public Square when thousands gathered to wave up to the Beatles and Ron Britton as they waved back from open windows… and then, 'The Concert.'"

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr stayed at the Sheraton-Cleveland, which was surrounded by a police cordon given the fan fervor. Cunning Cleveland police used a riot van traveling between the concert venue, Cleveland's Public Hall, as a decoy. Adoring Beatles fans eventually caught on to the fact that the Fab Four were not in the van, but the group still managed to escape undetected from inside the hotel not long before showtime.

"Sitting with the WHK station managers, Ron’s wife Peach, my wife Ann, and sister Kathy," remembers Jones, "we watched from 40 feet away as screaming girls and women rushed ...

continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, The Beatles, Inductee, Exclusive Interviews, Today in Rock

Rose Maddox Sings and Swings as Rockabilly Original in the 1940s

Wednesday, September 16: 11:18 a.m.

history of rockabilly music rose maddox sings

The California music scene took off during World War II when it became the home of some of the most prominent western swing bands, including Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys and Spade Cooley and his Orchestra. They played primarily to an Okie audience — men and women who had migrated from the southern plains to work in the wartime production plants in places like Los Angeles and San Diego.

A large number of those wartime workers were women, dancing to the music of Bob Wills and Spade Cooley. So how did female musicians really stake a claim in this scene? Enter Rose Maddox.

Rose Maddox, the lead singer of the Maddox Brothers and Rose, developed a unique singing style — a belting voice that could be heard in the raucous roadhouses and dancehalls of California. Her resonating chest voice clearly projected over the din of dancing, drinking and socializing. Patrons had to take notice.

The Maddoxes were part of the Okie migration, leaving the depressed South for California in the 1930s. They worked as farmhands in the Central Valley until they formed the band The Maddox Brothers and Rose in the late 1930s. They came to the forefront of California’s ...

continue Categories: History of Rock and Roll, Education, Exclusive Interviews

The 50th Anniversary of the Beatles at Shea Stadium

Saturday, August 15: 3:47 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

On August 15, 1965, the Beatles performed before a crowd of more than 55,000 ecstatic fans in New York City’s Shea Stadium. That’s a lot of screaming.

The legendary performance was the first ever in a major U.S. stadium, and is known as perhaps the most famous Beatles’ concert – well, maybe that infamously cut short rooftop gig ranks higher.

The 1964 Ludwig drum kit played by Ringo Starr during that Shea Stadium gig was also used on six Beatles’ albums, as well as during their last official concert appearance in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966. Can you think of a more iconic drum set?

John Lennon’s 1964 Rickenbacker electric guitar used during the performance was one of two guitars made especially for Lennon while visiting America for the first time in 1964, and used on the Beatles second-ever Ed Sullivan appearance. It soon became his primary instrument, and still has the set list from Shea Stadium taped to the side.

Hard to believe that 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of that Beatles’ milestone – and that Beatlemania would still be alive and well! Both the Ringo Starr Ludwig drumkit and the John Lennon Rickenbacker ...

continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, Today in Rock, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, The Beatles, Inductee, Hall of Fame
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