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Interview with Singer-Songwriter JD McPherson

Friday, October 26: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
JD McPherson will perform at the 2012 American Music Masters concert honoring to Chuck Berry

The work of visual artist, singer-songwriter, guitarist and Oklahoma-native JD McPherson channels his eclectic interests and creative gusto in a singular musical collage that takes a reverence for the past and wraps it in a decidedly forward-thinking motif. The art teacher turned rocker writes songs that reference 40s R&B and the sounds of 50s American rock and roll, pulling from the aesthetic of such record labels as Specialty, Vee-Jay and Del-Fi. Having played in a punk outfit and embracing a penchant for hip-hop, McPherson's retro melange bridges the divide among ostensibly disparate artists, from Ruth Brown to the Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Presley to the Smiths, Jackie Wilson to Stiff Little Fingers. In 2010, McPherson released his solo debut, Signs & Signifiers, produced by Jimmy Sutton. Originally released on indie imprint Hi-Style Records, the album was re-released to a wider audience on Rounder Records in 2012. "Although I grew up wanting to be a visual artist, I'll tell you what: the most satisfaction I've ever had as an artist is right now," says McPherson. "Because as much as I love artists like Joseph Beuys, I love David Bowie and Little Richard more."

In this interview, JD McPherson ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exclusive Interviews, Event

Interview with Musician David Johansen

Friday, October 26: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Johansen will perform at the 2012 American Music Masters concert honoring to Chuck Berry

Born in Staten Island, David Johansen logged some of his earliest stage experiences while singing in rock and roll dance bands during his high school years, yet his first exposure to the music of Chuck Berry – the Rock Hall's 2012 American Music Masters honoree – came at an early age. "My older brother had a lot of great records, so I guess I was about six when I first heard him," recalled Johansen by email days before the Chuck Berry tribute concert where he'll be performing. "It sounded to me the way things were supposed to be: fun and swinging."

Johansen moved to the East Village after graduating high school, performing with Charles Ludlum's Ridiculous Theater as a spear carrier before joining the fledgling New York Dolls. The Dolls cut two iconic rock and roll records, New York Dolls and Too Much, Too Soon, before disbanding in the mid-seventies. Johansen went on to record six highly acclaimed albums and toured incessantly for the next 10 years. It was during this period, Johansen began singing jump blues, calypso and “Pre-Hayes code rock and roll” under the name Buster Poindexter, in a small saloon in his Gramercy Park neighborhood ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exclusive Interviews, Event

Growing the Northeast Ohio Popular Music Archives

Friday, August 31: 11 a.m.
Posted by Jennie Thomas
Master tapes of Cleveland punk legends the Dead Boys are part of the NEOPMA

Earlier this month, myself, the Grateful Dead archivist Nicholas Meriwether (who contributed to the Rock Hall's Grateful Dead: the Long, Strange Trip exhibit and wrote about the Dead's "best performance") and nine other archivists from a wide array of archival institutions presented at the Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting in San Diego.

Founded in 1936, the Society of American Archivists is North America's oldest and largest national archival professional association. SAA's mission is to serve the educational and informational needs of more than 5,500 individual and institutional members and to provide leadership to ensure the identification, preservation and use of records of historical value.

Archivists from The Pennsylvania State University; McDonald’s Corporation; Harley Davidson Motor Company; University of Alabama Rare Books and Special Collections; The Coca-Cola Company; ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives; Microsoft Corporation; American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming; the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center; the Grateful Dead Archive at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Library and Archives, gathered to each give a 5-minute talk about archival advocacy in their institutions and dialogue with each ...


continue Categories: Library and Archives

Rare Performances: Talking Heads Live in 2002

Wednesday, August 29: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Byrne performs "Psycho Killer" with his Talking Heads bandmates in 2002

"Boy, am I honored to be mentioned in the same breath as the Talking Heads," noted 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis after taking the podium to induct the Talking Heads into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

"I remember the exact place that I was, the exact moment that it happened, that I heard the Talking Heads for the first time," recalled Kiedis. "That's an incredible indication of what a beautiful influence they would have on my life, because there's not too many things I could say that about. I was in the living room of Donde Bastone, I was 15, it was 1977, and the song that he put on was 'Psycho Killer,' and I absolutely freaked out. I made him play that song over and over and over again because it was like nothing else I'd ever heard, and it made me feel like nothing else I'd ever felt.

"Some very strange things happened to me when I heard the Talking Heads," continued Kiedis, explaining how the Talking Heads made him feel smart and want to dance. He remarked ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Rare Performances

Rock and Roll vs. Censorship

Thursday, August 23: 9 a.m.
The original version of the Beatles' Yesterday and Today was withdrawn from stores in 1966

Given the recent fervor over Russian feminist punk rock collective Pussy Riot's arrest and subsequent sentencing and incarceration after staging a performance art protest in a Russian Orthodox cathedral, the Rock Hall started thinking about how censorship has always been a hot button issue in rock and roll. What’s happening in Russia now is not terribly far removed from repressive reactions to the emergence of rock and roll in the 1950s, and reactions to various other manifestations of the artform throughout its history.

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich said this in her closing statement at the group’s trial: “On the one hand, we expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. The whole world now sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial.”

The National Coalition Against Censorship (with thanks to Eric Nuzum) notes these milestones in the infamous history of music censorship. Many of these milestones are covered in the Museum’s Don’t Knock the Rock exhibit, a video-driven exhibit about the protests against rock and roll ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit

Spotlight Exhibit: Joe Strummer's 1966 Fender Telecaster

Tuesday, August 21: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Joe Strummer with 1966 Fender Telecaster / photo by Masao Nakagami

The Clash possessed an indefinable chemistry that makes for a great band. Their explosive, uptempo punk-rock manifestos were unleashed with pure adrenaline and total conviction. Following the Sex Pistols’ dissolution in January 1978, the Clash became the central voice of the punk movement and remained at the forefront for five years. Their albums - The Clash (1977), Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978), London Calling (1979), Sandinista! (1980) and Combat Rock (1982) - captured the tumult of the times with unerring instinct and raw power.

the Clash Joe Strummer signature Fender TelecasterRhythm guitarist Joe Strummer – born John Mellor in Ankara, Turkey, on August 21, 1952 – wrote most of the words and lead guitarist Mick Jones contributed much of the music. Bassist Paul Simonon’s background in painting and sculpture helped shape the band’s aesthetic overview. Topper Headon was a journeyman drummer who found his niche powering the Clash. “As a mix of personalities,” noted writer Lenny Kaye, “the Clash was a perfect engine.” They ran hottest on a concert stage, where all their political zeal and undaunted idealism found expression in music erupted with an exhilarating forcefulness. Lester Bangs described the Clash in concert as “a desperation uncontrived, unstaged, a fury unleashed on the stage and writhing ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Spotlight Exhibit

Rare Performances: the Velvet Underground Live in 1996

Wednesday, July 18: 1:17 p.m.
The Velvet Underground performed a song dedicated to band member Sterling Morrison in 1996.

“No, I didn't attend his funeral. I dedicated a song to him from the stage of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – I wanted his name to be heard on TV and to the crowds watching the show. I wanted to play "Sweet Jane" for him one last time.” – Lou Reed, quoted in The Austin Chronicle, 2000

On September 2, 1995, Lou Reed performed “Sweet Jane” onstage at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, in front of a crowd of more than 63,000 and millions more around the world watching the concert broadcast on HBO. The occasion was the Concert for the Hall of Fame, celebrating the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Reed’s fellow guitarist and Velvet Underground bandmate, Sterling Morrison, had passed away from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma just three days before. Reed’s performance, dedicated to Morrison, gently reminded the world of Velvet Underground’s impact, and Morrison’s unique contributions to the band. The surviving members of the Velvets would pay tribute to Morrison once more upon their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on January 17, 1996, with a poignant performance of a song especially written for ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Sonic Reducer"

Wednesday, July 11: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Straight outta Cleveland, the Dead Boys probably were never meant to climb the long and treacherous path to rock stardom. They were too aggressive, too uncontrollable and too willing to do almost anything – no matter how foolhardy or repellent – to engage an audience. Guitarist Gene O'Connor aka Cheetah Chrome had been part of the influential but unrecorded band Rocket from the Tombs. When he and singer Stiv Bators formed the Dead Boys in 1976, they incorporated several of RFTT's best songs into their repertoire, including "Sonic Reducer," with O'Connor's rapid-fire eighth-note guitar riff bolted to the ingenious lyrics of RFTT frontman David Thomas (later of experimental rockers Pere Ubu). In 1977, the song was released as a single with b side "Down in Flames" and also included on the Dead Boys' debut album, Young, Loud and Snotty. After two albums and a couple of chaotic tours, the Dead Boys broke up in 1979. But "Sonic Reducer" became an American punk-rock standard that continues to resonate with new audiences: It was covered by 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees Guns n' Roses and sampled by 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees the Beastie Boys on"Open Letter to ...


continue Categories: Exhibit, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
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