The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


song :: Blog

2014 Hall of Fame Inductions: 5 Essential Nirvana Songs

Wednesday, April 9: 8 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

It only takes one song to start a rock revolution. That trigger, in late 1991, was “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” an exhilarating blast of punk-rock confrontation by Nirvana, a scruffy trio from Seattle. “Teen Spirit,” its moshpit-party video and Nirvana’s kinetic live shows propelled their second album, Nevermind, to Number One and turned singer-guitarist-songwriter Kurt Cobain into the voice and conscience of an alternative-rock nation sick of hair metal and the conservative grip of the Reagan-Bush ‘80s. Founded by Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in the logging town of Aberdeen, Washington, Nirvana were underground stars when they made 1989’s Bleach with drummer Chad Channing. Moving from the indie Sub Pop label to Geffen, the band – with drummer Dave Grohl – packed Cobain’s corrosive riffs, emotionally acute writing and twin passions for the Beatles and post-punk bands like the Melvins and the Pixies into Nevermind. A multi-platinum seller, it included the hits “Come As You Are” and “Lithium” and opened the mainstream gates for Green Day, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. In 1993, Nirvana released the caustic masterpiece, In Utero, and gave a historic performance on MTV’s Unplugged. But in April 1994, Cobain – suffering from drug addiction and ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "My Girl"

Thursday, March 6: 4:45 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
On March 6, 1965, The Temptations hit #1 with "My Girl".

Debates about the predominance of singer over song (or vice versa) reign eternal. The Temptations' "My Girl" makes a case for the song. It has one of the most memorable melodies of the rock era, one of Smokey Robinson's most memorable lyrics, and a choral structure that could serve any harmony group from early-1950s doo-woppers to Boyz II Men. Here, meaning comes just as much from atmospheric production and arrangement (also by Robinson, with fellow Miracle Ronnie White) as it does from the song itself. The sound has the ozone-intoxicated feeling you get after a summer thunderstorm. Bass and guitar parts –  particularly that unforgettable intro – rank with the era's most exquisite, and also set up the declamatory crooning of lead vocal. Perhaps the most thrilling moment comes with the soaring bridge: strings and guitar shimmer against the Temptations' hey hey hey, out of which Ruffin emerges with a swooping yet understated oooh yeah. The offhanded ejaculation gives the rest of the lyrics' romanticism complete credibility.

The Temptations are among the artists featured in the Detroit section of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Cities and Sound exhibit, part of the Museum's permanent collection.


continue Categories: Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, History of Rock and Roll, Hall of Fame, Today in Rock, Exhibit, Inductee

In the Museum: The Who's Roger Daltrey

Saturday, March 1: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Who's Roger Daltrey celebrates his 70th birthday on March 1, 2014

Born on March 1, 1944, Roger Daltrey injected the Who's songs with expressive muscularity and passion. Daltrey made a natural rock and roll frontman, theatrically swinging the microphone and proving the ideal, angst-projecting foil to Who songwriter/guitarist Pete Townshend's "windmill" strumming and instrument destroying antics and drummer Keith Moon's  explosive – sometimes literally – playing. With rock-steady bass virtuoso John Entwistle, the four evolved from purveyors of Mod-era "maximum R&B" to visionary, literary creators of concept album narratives and singular rock opera productions. Simply put: the Who created some of rock and roll's most enduring and powerful anthems. 

In mid-1965, Daltrey and the Who were unflagging devotees of R&B, though their reverence ultimately started to stifle creativity. Hoping to shake things up on the compositional front, manager Kit Lambert demanded a new anthem to go with the image they didn't have yet. Pete Townshend responded with a primitive home demo of "My Generation." Arranged as a talking blues number, it didn't sound much like his generation. With a terse order to make it beefier, Townshend returned with a version deemed chunky enough to warrant a group whack at a demo session, which Lambert ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, History of Punk, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Inductee, Exhibit, Today in Rock, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Beatlemania Comes to the United States

Monday, February 3: 10:15 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Beatles – "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

By December 1963, England had enjoyed nearly a year of Beatlemania. The Fab Four – George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – had sold millions of records for EMI's Parlophone imprint. The group’s first single, “Love Me Do”/”P.S. I Love You,” briefly dented the U.K. Top 20 in October 1962, but their next 45, “Please Please Me,” formally ignited Beatlemania in their homeland, reaching the Number Two spot. It was followed in 1963 by three consecutive chart-topping British singles: “From Me to You” “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They conquered the U.K., even inducing a classical music critic from the Sunday Times to declare them “the greatest composers since Beethoven.” Moreover, they were the greatest rockers since the composer of “Roll Over Beethoven” – Chuck Berry. Still, success in America remained elusive for manager Brian Epstein and his young charges, as Capitol – EMI's American label – refused to release the Beatles' first four British singles, one label executive noting, "We don't think the Beatles will do anything in this market." Everything would change with "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Be part of the Beatles 50th Anniversary Celebration ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Today in Rock

Etta James Sings "At Last" and Hits the Charts

Friday, January 24: 8 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Etta James

At the end of the 1960s, traditional R&B was moving in different directions: toward Motown and its pop-ready "Sound of Young America," and the grittier Southern soul of Stax/Volt and Fame Recording Studio. Etta James sided with the latter. Born January 25, 1938, as Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, California, she had moved from a gospel choir to a girl trio to the Johnny Otis Revue by the time she had her first R&B hit at 17. “I might have been a little church girl singing gospel, but I loved all the music – soaked it up like a sponge," said James. "I remember Charles Brown, who killed me with 'Drifting Blues.' I’d hear that good time music floating out onto the street, whether it was some smooth blues like T-Bone Walker or sophisticated jazz….[I’d] poke my head into a joint, amazed by the men in their stingy-brim hats and them gators on their feet, chicks poured into skintight dresses, laughing and flirting and carrying on.” 

In the spring of 1961, “At Last” became a Number Two R&B hit and remains ...


continue Categories: Black History Month, Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Hall of Fame, Today in Rock, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Stop! In the Name of Love"

Wednesday, January 15: 5 p.m.
Posted by Alexandra Fagan
The Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

In January 1961, Motown signed the Supremes, an all-female group who emerged from the poverty of Detroit’s Brewster housing project to become among Motown’s most consistent hitmakers and the most popular female group of the 60s. 

Representing the Motown sound at its most stylized, the Supremes were the 1960s’ biggest group after the Beatles. They scored 10 Number One hits, including five in a row, right in the midst of the British Invasion. Diana Ross’ vocals achieved their greatest affect in this period because producers/songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland supplied her with novel concepts that capitalized on her penchant for melodrama. “Stop! In the Name of Love” could be the most dramatic of them all. HDH recordings used gospel elements more proudly and directly than any other Motown productions – the ever-present Motown tambourine is a gospel trademark, for example. But HDH never limited themselves.

Diana Ross and The Supremes exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum“Stop! In the Name of Love” benefits from James Jamerson’s earthquake bassline, the track's baritone sax riff and ringing vibes undercurrent, and an organ part adding tension to Ross' chilling moment: “Stop!” Stylistically, Ross had little more relationship to gospel than Frank Sinatra does, but HDH didn't put her in church, they simply ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Work With Me Annie"

Monday, November 18: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

Born on November 18, 1927 (some sources note 1936), Hank Ballard wasn't the first to write smutty songs, but he was one of the more determinedly single-minded to exploit what he called the "raunch groove." His "Get It" was about, well, getting it. The title was startling coming after "The Shrine of St. Cecillia," the previous release by the Royals (as Ballard and the Midnighters were known prior to being labelmates with a "5" Royales). Its success, however, pointed the way. Ballard hit his stride with "Work With Me Annie," which is not about working. Reportedly toned down from its first draft, "Annie" still didn't leave much to the imagination: “Annie, please don’t cheat/ Give me all my meat / Oooo-weee / So good to me /Work with me, Annie / Let’s get it while the getting is good.” Needless to say, it went to the top of the R&B record charts in early 1954 despite being banned by the FCC. In a 1987 interview, Ballard recalled: "But [controversy] made the record hot. All that carryin’ on. 'What is this record about?' 'You can’t hear it on the radio – banned!' I tell you, in the Boston area ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Today in Rock, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Interview with Peter Asher, half of legendary duo Peter & Gordon

Monday, November 4: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Peter Asher in 2011 / photo by Michael Weintrob

Peter Asher’s legendary music career began in 1964 with the formation of Peter & Gordon. In 1968, Asher became head of A&R for the Beatles newly formed record company, Apple Records. Three years later, Asher decided to literally head in a different direction and moved to the U.S., where he founded Peter Asher Management. Peter Asher Management became one of the most successful artist management companies in America, handling artists such as Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Carole King. Asher has produced 12 Grammy Award-winning recordings, and in 1977 and 1989 was honored individually with the Grammy Award for “Producer of the Year.” Playing select dates now, Asher stopped by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, to talk about his recent projects, keeping current, and being among the first people to ever hear the Beatles "I Want to Hold Your Hand" when Paul McCartney was staying at his house.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Tell us about the dates you're playing now...

Peter Asher: It's not really a tour it's just occasional dates. I have so much fun doing it. To be honest, I ...


continue Categories: Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Hall of Fame, Exclusive Interviews
Page 1 of 2. next