Not even Nirvana's most ardent early advocates could've predicted the near-immediate – much less lasting – impact Nevermind had following its September 1991 release. By the following January, it was already topping charts and the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video was part of MTV's regular rotation. Yet less than a month after their major label debut, the band members – most adamantly frontman Kurt Cobain – were struggling to adapt to attention and adulation.
Meeting a hungover and young group in a New York City hotel on September 29, 1991, journalist Susan Rees interviewed Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl in what became Nirvana's first national magazine cover feature, for the Jan/Feb 1992 issue of Alternative Press magazine.
"Just getting through this interview proved too much for the press-weary band," wrote Rees. "Spread out about as far as three people can spread out in one small New York City hotel room, they tried to be responsive, but Sunday afternoon weighed heavily on them. Novoselic, who did offer a Beck's and some Pepperidge Farm cookies, showed more interest in watching television, drummer David Grohl was polite but didn't have much to say and vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kurt ...
A fan has left a rose at the entrance of 2400 Fulton Street in San Francisco, where Jefferson Airplane once lived, in acknowledgment of Paul Kantner's death. / photo by Richie Unterberger
I felt like a part of my San Francisco died when I heard the news of Paul Kantner’s passing. For fans like myself who so profoundly identify with certain music and musicians, it feels like we are losing part of ourselves each time one of our heroes passes away.
I discovered Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Jefferson Airplane when I was a senior in high school and a classmate shared a boxset of their music – Jefferson Airplane Loves You. As a teenager, it was perhaps my first taste of psychedelia and the counterculture. I went on to study the history of the Summer of Love as an American Studies major in college. When I was 22, my parents took me to San Francisco, and I actually wore flowers in my hair.
Several years later I found myself with a job at UC Berkeley, and I made regular pilgrimages across the bay to see Richie Unterberger give presentations on rare rock films at the Haight-Ashbury branch ...
Without a doubt, Sam Cooke was one of the most influential performers in the history of American popular music. His work cut across the genres of gospel, R&B and pop, and Cooke is credited as being one of soul music’s primary architects.
Cooke was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 1931, and his family moved to Chicago when Cooke was a toddler. He started singing in the church, and joined the most popular gospel group in the country, the Soul Stirrers, when he was still a teenager. His career with the Soul Stirrers was enough to secure his place in the annals of music history, but his ambition and talent would take him much further.
With the release of “You Send Me” in 1957, Cooke embarked upon a career in secular music that transcended the boundaries of R&B and pop. He was a pioneering figure in African-American entrepreneurship, gaining remarkable artistic control of his music and the business surrounding it. Recognizing the importance of owning publishing rights to music, he founded his own record label, SAR, with J.W. Alexander and Roy Crain in 1961, despite being courted aggressively by the leading record labels of the day. He ...
Grammy-nominated artist Elle King visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday, January 29, 2016, prior to a performance at Cleveland’s Masonic Auditorium. The “Ex’s & Oh’s” singer made the special tour stop to see her dress, now on display inside the Hall of Fame’s “Right Here, Right Now” exhibit, and hang out with some fans who came out for the occasion.
“I’m really overwhelmed right now,” said King in the Rock Hall exhibit. “I’ve come here since I was a little girl, and I played here over the summer [in 2015], and me and my band got super choked up. And just walking around and seeing how the Rock Hall keeps rock ‘n’ roll alive, to see my own dress is kind of mind-blowing, and I’m super choked up over it. It’s really cool.”
“Right Here, Right Now” takes a look at the evolution of rock and roll and its impact on the next generation of artists. Visitors ...
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.
The setlist mostly featured Beach Boys songs penned by the eldest Wilson ...
What songs define the career of Smokey Robinson? What are Smokey Robinson's most important tracks? From one of Smokey Robinson's first songwriting collaborations with Motown impresario Berry Gordy in 1959 to the Number Two 1981 pop hit "Being With You," this illustrated history and timeline of key musical moments in Smokey Robinson's career showcases the enduring impact of his music.
As part of its Digital Classroom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's education department provides an introduction to rock history as told through the songs that shaped rock and roll. Students and teachers can explore and find tools, strategies and resources including lesson plans, listening guides and exclusive multimedia content, including infographics like the one featured above.
Motown was like the soundtrack of my household. That's pretty much all we played, so I was enormously familiar with Smokey Robinson, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, as well as all the Motown stuff that Smokey wrote.
He was my first example of a songwriter. Period. Not only was he an artist that wrote for himself, but he wrote for all these other artists. And there were all these hits, and it was like, man, this guy is like really working towards the betterment of music, and the betterment of like lyrics.
So as I grew and got into poetry, got into music, I was very much a student of Smokey Robinson, very much a big fan of a lot of his songs that he created, and just all the things he was doing.
It really helped me when I got into the industry and became a songwriter and was pretty well-known and was trying to become an artist as well, most of the labels ...
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 ...