Released in the Spring of 1971, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On was a transformative recording for Gaye and his Motown label. The nearly operatic concept album mused deeply on such issues as Vietnam, drugs, the decline of northern cities, the economy and the environment, all over a free-flowing musical backdrop that drew on jazz, pop and classical forms. Gaye referred to the album as a “gift from God,” and the album’s spiritual dimension found overt expression in his liner notes: “We’ve got to find the Lord. Allow him to influence us. I mean, what other weapons have we to fight the forces of hatred and evil?” With his inimitable voice, he provided nuanced perspective that immediately resonated with audiences – and has so for generations.
"My phone would ring, and it’d Motown wanting me to start working and I’d say, ‘Have you seen the paper today? Have you read about these kids who were killed at Kent State?’ The murders at Kent State made me sick," explained Marvin Gaye. "I couldn’t ...
The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, revered Little Willie John, having opened shows for John early on and later recorded an entire album of his tunes, the 1968 tribute Thinking About Little Willie John and a Few Nice Things. Brown was just but one of many artists of the day who were influenced by John's gospel-charged R&B sound. The likes of Hall of Fame Inductees Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and Al Green all noted a musical debt to the man behind "Fever," and hits including "Sleep," "Talk To Me, Talk To Me" and "Leave My Kitten Alone" – the latter an early Beatles fave.
Spending his formative years raised in Detroit, Michigan, Little Willie John's stature belied his powerful voice. Signed to Syd Nathan's Cincinnati-based King Records in 1955, John cut the haunting, sultry "Fever" in 1956 at the tender age of 18. His smooth style presaged soul music. His delivery was passionate and dramatic, which paired with his melding of styles proved the perfect foil to such evocative lyricism.
Sadly, this polished, passionate artist suffered a sad fate: convicted of manslaughter in a post-gig fracas and sentenced to prison in 1966, he died under disputed circumstances ...
In black music of the Seventies, Earth Wind & Fire were the Beatles to Parliament-Funkadelic's Rolling Stones. There's no better example of EW&F's positive vibration and spiritual uplift than this million-selling Number One Pop/R&B hit from 1975, written by group members Maurice White, Larry Dunn and Philip Bailey. "Shining Star" was one of a brace of EW&F songs recorded for the soundtrack of That's The Way of the World, a racially charted music biz drama starring Harvey Keitel. The film didn't do much at the box office, but the Earth Wind & Fire LP of the same name became a massive hit that topped both the Pop and R&B album charts. "Shining Star" – a flawless fusion of funk rhythms, rock guitar, and the sanctified singing of White and Bailey – won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
Recently, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind & Fire visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, and talked with the Rock Hall about what it means to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and be recognized ...
Preaching a gospel of tolerance set against a heady genre-blending groove, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Sly and the Family Stone were the integrated multi-gender Pied Pipers of the Woodstock generation. The group's message – and inimitable synthesizing of rock, soul, R&B, funk and psychedelia into a danceable music – helped bring diverse audiences together, with their greatest triumph coming at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. During their unforgettable nighttime set, leader Sly Stone initiated a fevered call-and-response with the audience of 400,000–plus during an electrifying version of “I Want to Take You Higher.” Voters around the world ranked that moment as one of the greatest festival moments of all time, and it is included in the Rock Hall's feature exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience.
The group connected with the rising counterculture by means of songs that addressed issues of personal pride and liberation in the context of driving, insistent and sunny-tempered music that fused rock and soul, creating a template for 70s funk. As proof that they were reaching a rainbow coalition among the young, Sly and the Family Stone dominated the late 60s charts with such essential singles as “Dance to ...
It was a weekend of sing-alongs, raves, rappers and rockers. More than 80,000 music fans made a pilgrimage to Manchester, Tennessee for the 13th annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. A diverse lineup boasted EDM artists like Zedd and Skrillex next to classic soulsters like Lionel Richie and Bobby Womack, proving that music festivals allow acts to perform for both new and old audiences. Here are five of the top music moments (in no particular order) from the 2014 Bonnarro Music & Arts Festival.
1. Elder statesmen of Rock Meet the New School: Skrillex & Friends SuperJam
Sonny Moore AKA Skrillex pulled out all the stops for his SuperJam. A few of the highlights included Janelle Monea taking the stage to perform Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and the 1965 James Brown classic "I Feel Good," and later Cage the Elephant's Matt Shultz fronting the Doors' "Break On Through (To The Otherside)" alongside the iconic group's guitarist and songwriter Robby Krieger.
2. Jack White Covers Zeppelin, Electrifying Stage with Mix of New and Old
Just four days after the release of White's second solo studio album Lazaretto, the Nashville resident ...
This summer as rock and roll fans gather at musical festivals around the globe, the Rock Hall is celebrating the the greatest music festivals in history, the biggest and baddest music festivals of today and the fans who make Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience.
From June 12-15, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes over Manchester, Tennessee, with a host of performances from some of the biggest names in music. Among the headlining acts and performers at Bonnaroo this year are a number of artists who also feature in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cleveland, Ohio, including four Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.
Percussionist Mickey Hart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 with his bandmates in the Grateful Dead. When Hart visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 2012, he shared stories about the first time he ever saw the Grateful Dead live and the San Francisco scene in the 60s. Pictured below is his illuminated signature in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
Bobby Womack was born in Cleveland, where he and his ...
The song was there amid the highs and lows of the top 40, tucked among "Kung Fu Fighting," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "Maggie May," and countless other 70s one-offs, novelties and classics. The Staple Singers’ "I’ll Take You There" was in the air, like oxygen. Years after I first heard it in my parents’ kitchen on a transistor radio, it always seemed to be part of my life – I would find myself humming the bass line while waiting for an elevator or muttering "Ain’t no smiling faces" as I walked down a downtown Chicago street at rush hour. A few decades later, after hearing the song dozens if not hundreds of times, it dawned on me: There are only about five lines of verse in the entire song, spanning more than 4 minutes. The rest is just a magic act between the band (the Muscle Shoals rhythm section) and Mavis Staples, backed by her family.
In interviewing the people in the studio when "I’ll Take You There" was recorded, they all still sound in awe of what happened that day.
"The ‘I’ll Take You There’ session rates as high as any we ever did," guitarist Jimmie ...
In March 2014, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum invited fans around the globe to vote for the greatest festival moments in the history of rock and roll. Thousands of votes were cast, and when the results were tallied, a Top 10 emerged. Here are those amazing festival moments, from Newport Folk to Woodstock, Monterey Pop to Lollapalooza; from Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters to Nine Inch Nails.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, opens a new feature exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience, on April 25, 2014.