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Interview with Little Milton Campbell

Wednesday, August 15: 3:05 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Little Milton Campbell talks about Elvis Presley in a rare 2005 interview

"Back then, people weren't saying this is a new thing, rock and roll," said blues guitarist and vocalist Little Milton Campbell in Memphis, Tennessee, during a March 2005 interview with members of the Rock Hall's education staff. "I think what brought that to focus was the fact that Elvis [Presley] did it. He was the only white boy at that time that had the guts to do what he felt, the movements. A lot of folks don't realize that this man caused pure hell doing the kind of music that he was doing." Campbell, who was first noticed by talent scout Ike Turner as a teen and launched his recording career under the direction of Sam Phillips at Sun Records in the early 1950s, had a profound understanding of the blues and unique perspective and insights on the evolution of rock and roll. At the time of the interview, the Rock Hall's education department had started recording interviews with artists and seminal figures in the history of rock and roll as part of an oral histories project to help develop the Museum's distance learning program in order to bring rock and roll education to ...


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The Number One "Rocket 88"

Thursday, May 31: 4:50 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
"Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats is often cited as the first rock and roll record

In June 1951, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats had the Number One single on the Billboard R&B charts with "Rocket 88." More pointedly, the recording – along with Louis Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry" (1949), Wild Bill Moore's "Rock and Roll" (1949), Fats Domino's debut single "The Fat Man" (1949) and Jimmy Preston's "Rock the Joint" (1949), among others – ranks among the first incarnations of the genre that would come to be known as rock and roll. In fact, many consider "Rocket 88" the first rock and roll record.

Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Jackie Brenston was a forceful singer and a capable baritone sax player. By the close of the 1940s, he had joined the Kings of Rhythm, which had formed around the nucleus of Ike Turner in Mississippi. Farther north, in Memphis, Tennessee, Sam Phillips had opened his Memphis Recording Studio alongside the Sun Records label at 706 Union Avenue at the start of 1950 (he would later change the name to Sun Studios). Although the operation would go on to record the works of B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis, to name but ...


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Finding The Pied Piper of Cleveland

Monday, March 19: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Chris Kennedy
Bill Haley and Elvis Presley

On Thursday, October 20, 1955, at approximately 1:45 pm, 20-year-old Elvis Presley’s rebel yell of “Wellll, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight!” smacked off the auditorium walls of Brooklyn (Ohio) High School, as cameras from Universal – International Pictures filmed, in color, the flashpoint of the birth of rock and roll.

This unseen footage, know today as The Pied Piper of Cleveland, remains the lost, Holy Grail of rock and roll. But not necessarily because of Presley’s performance, one of his first out of the South, which by most eyewitness accounts wasn’t so spectacularly mind-blowing, or by the appearances of the other, more established acts on the bill. The Pied Piper of Cleveland retains its mystery and allure simply because it has eluded capture for so many years, and because its producer and star, Cleveland top jock Bill Randle, made sure never to answer questions about the film's fate candidly, never letting its tantalizing specter fade from the rock and roll consciousness. 

For the last eight years, I've dedicated a considerable amount of time peering through nearly 60 years of Randle's smoke and mirrors, attempting to discern exactly what transpired ...


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The Lost Photographs of Cleveland Deejay Tommy Edwards

Thursday, January 12: 4 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
Tommy Edwards (center) with the Everly Brothers

Many know that rock and roll was christened in Cleveland, Ohio, when DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase to describe the up-tempo R&B music he was beaming out on his popular radio show. Freed opened the doors for countless artists, and for years was the de facto king of rock and roll. But fewer know about the cadre of revolutionary Cleveland disc jockeys who shared the airwaves with Freed. Among them was Tommy Edwards. 

Edwards, who owned a prominent record store, pressed records and was a disc jockey at WERE 1300 AM, was instrumental in bringing Elvis Presley to Cleveland in 1955 for his first performance north of the Mason-Dixon line. Pat Boone headlined the concert, and the supporting bill included Bill Haley and the Comets, the Four Lads, Priscilla Wright and a largely unknown Presley. It was there that Edwards snapped the famous photograph of Presley with Haley, one of the few times the two met. The show was not held in a grand concert hall or big-ticket venue, but in a suburb of Cleveland at Brooklyn High School. The now mythical performance is rumored to have been captured in vivid Technicolor, and dubbed The Pied Piper ...


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Today In Rock: Alan Freed is Born

Thursday, December 15: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Alan Freed

On December 15, 1921, Albert James Freed – the man who famously christened a radical new form of music as "rock 'n' roll" - was born near Johnston, Pennsylvania. Moving to Salem, Ohio, with his family at age 12, Alan (as he was better known) Freed spent his formative years in the Buckeye State, eventually attending Ohio State, where the campus radio station piqued a fascination with radio that would stay with him through all his days. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

By the early 1950s, Freed had settled in to a new DJ position in Cleveland, playing R&B records during a segment sponsored by friend and local record shop owner Leo Mintz, whose inner city store, Record Rendezvous, was selling many records by burgeoning R&B artists. "I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1950, '51, '52," said noted DJ and rock and roll historian Norm N. Nite during the first Hall of Fame Inductions in 1986. "I listened to Alan Freed playing those records on the Moondog show. I knew at that particular time that  it was something special that was going on." It was during this time that Freed first ...


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Today in Rock: Chuck Berry is Born

Tuesday, October 18: 5 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart
Chuck Berry

Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news: it's Chuck Berry's birthday.

Let's hear it for the man who taught us about everything from cooling off your car's engine with rain water blowin' all under the hood, to all we needed to know about girls named "Carol" and "Nadine." In fact, the Shakespeare of rock and roll informed us about most the things we needed to know in those nascent days of the music that's become the soundtrack of our lives. 

Imagine what it meant to me when he referred to my hometown of Mobile in "Let It Rock." It was great being with you recently, Mr. Berry,  and it thrills me that you are still knockin' 'em out like Johnny B. Goode.

More About Hall of Fame Inductee Chuck Berry:
(pictured: Chuck Berry's Gibson ES-335, part of the Museum's featured collection)

While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together. It was his particular genius to graft country & western guitar licks onto a rhythm & blues chassis in his very ...


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The Fabulous Girl Groups

Wednesday, October 12: 12:08 p.m.
The Ronettes

"The Fabulous Girl Groups" is the third 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, and "Pioneers of Rock" was the second feature.

The roots of the girl-group era date back to 1956, the year when a vocal group called Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers lit up the charts with “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” Mary Wilson of the Supremes remembers that many girls around her neighborhood weren’t content just to listen to Frankie Lymon sing on their transistor radios – they wanted to be Frankie Lymon. Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes auditioned for her future producer and husband, Phil Spector, by singing “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” when they met in 1962.

The first real girl-group hit was the Bobbettes’ “Mr. Lee,” which reached Number Six in August 1957, just a month before nine African-American kids had to be escorted by the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army to desegregate their high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1958, as Swedish diplomat Agda Rossel became ...


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World Have Your Say Live at the Rock Hall

Monday, October 10: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
BBC World Service's "World Have Your Say" broadcasting live at the Rock Hall

On Tuesday, October 11, BBC World Service's award-winning program World Have Your Say will broadcast live from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. The popular program is moderated by host Ros Atkins, leading a panel of guests and an international audience who actively participate in daily discussions of global issues. Listeners help dictate the conversation by calling in, emailing and leaving comments on the WHYS blog and the show's social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

"We've been to Cleveland many times, and it's always been a great experience," says Atkins. "Each time, we're told that we must visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, but we've never had the time. To get the opportunity to broadcast World Have Your Say from the home of rock and roll was too good to miss. However, as we're a current affairs talk show, we can't play the hits that I'd like!"

The hour-long broadcast begins tomorrow at 1 pm EST in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Alan Freed Studio. The Museum is a fitting location for a show that harnesses ...


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