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How James Brown Saved Boston in 1968

Friday, January 17: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
James Brown in 1968

In a decade marred by tumult, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr had emerged as the charismatic voice of the civil rights movement, advancing the cause with a resonant message of nonviolence and peaceful civil disobedience. He was the loudspeaker for thousands crying out, the channel through which the civil rights movement found unity. With King's assassination on April 4, 1968, the world lost among its most fearless leaders.

News of King's assassination sent shockwaves across the country and people took to the streets in frustration. As day broke in Boston on Friday, April 5, government officials nervously anticipated another night of unrest, yet an unlikely keeper of the peace came forward and helped unite a community: James Brown

Variously dubbed "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business" and "Mr. Dynamite" among other monikers, Brown had been scheduled to perform in the city's center, at the Boston Garden. Amid great civil strife, Mayor Kevin White faced a quandary: aggravate a tense situation by canceling the event for overtly racial fears or dismiss concerns expressed by law enforcement. His decision came ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, History of the Blues, Event, Inductee, Hall of Fame, Education

Remembering Maxine Powell and Motown's Finishing School

Wednesday, October 23: 4 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
(l-r) Maxine Powell and Rock Hall director of community programs Ruthie Brown at Rock Hall in 1997.

Although her official title was as a director of Motown's artist development department, Maxine Powell was much more than her role suggested. "Motown owes a great debt to Maxine," says Ruthie Brown, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's director of community programs and friend of Powell. "The artists knew what she was trying to do, and deep down, they wanted her refinement. They mimicked the image of the average American teenager – white, black, it didn't matter. The crossover was extremely successful. Motown was 'the sound of young America," and Maxine helped Berry Gordy get that image across." Powell passed away on October 14, 2013. She was 98.

Powell worked with Motown artist during a pivotal period in Motown's meteoric rise, from 1964 to 1969, when she helped shaped the public – and often private – personalities of the Detroit label's biggest names. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown Records, said that Powell “brought something to Motown that no other record company had,” adding of his artists, “She was tough, but when she got through with them, they were poised, professional and very thankful.”

Born in Texarkana, Texas ...


continue Categories: History of Rock and Roll, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Education, Exclusive Interviews

New at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: A Jackson 5-era Outfit Worn by Michael Jackson

Friday, September 13: 4 p.m.
Michael Jackson sports outfit from his Jackson 5 days, now on exhibit

Starting this week, visitors to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, will be able to see a new addition to the Rock Hall's Michael Jackson collection: an outfit worn by the King of Pop early in his Jackson 5 days.

I clearly remember the first time I saw this newest addition to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection. I got an extreme close-up look at Michael’s orange, yellow and red ensemble, with my nose inches from the television screen. I was watching the Jackson 5’s second television special, which aired on November 5, 1972. Michael and his brothers wore a succession of colorful, fashionable, individualized yet coordinated outfits on the television special.

The warm, saturated colors, double-knit fabric, turtleneck and bellbottom design of this particular outfit were the apogee of early 1970s hip fashion, seen on fashion runways from couturiers like Halston and Yves St. Laurent, accessible and readily adaptable for the ready-to-wear market.

The stylish turtleneck top of the outfit with the heart-embellished “J5” logo is actually a body suit – clearly a necessity to accommodate Michael’s athletic dancing. Michael was growing up fast, but ...


continue Categories: Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit

Remembering Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby "Blue" Bland

Monday, June 24: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bobby Bland, who passed away on June 23, 2013, pictured here accepting Hall of Fame award in 1992.

After a singing career that spanned more than five decades, soul-blues vocalist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby "Blue" Bland passed away on June 23, 2013, in his home state of Tennessee. He was 83. Bland was one of soul music's greatest singers. His vocals were grainy, but, at the same time, warm and intimate. He played a major role in transforming the blues and gospel into a sound that became soul music.

"To me, there is no better singer that sings any kind of song than Bobby Bland," said B.B. King during his induction of Bland at the 1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. "Bobby Bland is one of a kind." As a young man, Bland served as a chauffeur for King and Roscoe Gordon, and as a valet for Junior Parker. He eventually became part of a loose-knit group called the Beale Streeters – so named for the Memphis street where they congregated – which included King, Gordon, Parker, Johnny Ace, Billy Duncan and Earl Forrest.

In the latter half of the Fifties, after returning to Memphis following military duty, Bland matured into a masterful singer and assured entertainer. His hallmark was ...


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

Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Thursday, April 18: 2 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees exhibit is now open!

On April 18, 2013, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officially ushers the 2013 class of inductees into the Hall of Fame during the 28th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The class – Lou Adler, Heart, Quincy Jones, Albert King, Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Rush and Donna Summer – are represented in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland's newest exhibit. In the series of clips below, get a behind the scenes look at the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees exhibit. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to see the new exhibit!

Lou Adler

Heart

Quincy Jones

Albert King

Randy Newman

Public Enemy

Rush

Donna Summer


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In the Museum: Aretha Franklin

Monday, March 25: 6 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Aretha Franklin on the cover of Time Magazine in 1968, on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Aretha Franklin was only 24 years old when she signed with Atlantic Records in November 1966, but she had already been making records for much of her life, first as a child gospel singer, then as a pop singer of only modest success. 

Born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, Aretha Franklin was raised in Detroit. Her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, was the charismatic pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church, which he turned into a large and thriving institution. From an early age, Aretha sang at her father’s behest during services at New Bethel. Her first recordings turned up on an album called Spirituals, recorded at the church when she was only 14. Although she was firmly rooted in gospel, Franklin also drew from such blues and jazz legends as Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn as she developed her singing style. On the male side, she was inspired by Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke (both with and without the Soul Stirrers). From the emerging world of youthful doo-wop groups and early soul, Aretha enjoyed the likes of LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, Little Willie John, the Falcons (featuring Wilson Pickett) and Frankie Lymon ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit

Remembering Bobby Rogers of the Miracles

Tuesday, March 12: 1:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Bobby Rogers – 2/19/40 – 3/3/13

For someone who wasn’t a star in the Motown stable of artists, Bobby Rogers was a recognizable figure among fans and commanded the respect of his peers. Tall, strapping and bespectacled, Rogers was a founding member of the Miracles, who distinguished himself through his role as a foil to his better-known band mate, Smokey Robinson, and as a collaborator in the only group on Motown that wrote and produced the bulk of its own material.

Bobby Rogers and Smokey Robinson were fated to be friends and musical partners. They were born on the same day – February 19, 1940 – at the same hospital in Detroit, and grew up together singing. Their first musical group, the Five Chimes, formed in the basement of Rogers’ cousin Claudette’s home. With her, Pete Moore and Ronnie White, they became the Matadors. Eventually taking the name the Miracles, they were spotted at a local talent show by Berry Gordy Jr., then a fledgling songwriter with dreams of his own record label. He saw potential in the suave nature of the group. Gordy produced their debut single, “Got a Job,” an answer record to the Silhouettes “Get a Job,” and licensed it to United ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit

Album Notes: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St.

Friday, March 8: 10 a.m.
Posted by Greg Harris
The Rolling Stones' 1972 release "Exile on Main St."

I was seven years old when Exile on Main St. was released in 1972. It wasn't until later in the decade that I first heard the album, though I was already a Rolling Stones fan by then. My earliest rock and roll mentors – friends and family, and musicians and writers that I admired – told me Exile was the Stones record to have, so I picked up a used, well-worn copy on vinyl. The dog-eared double LP jacket was ragged and looked like hell; long gone were the dozen postcards that came with the original packaging. However, the scratched wax delivered an electric sound. 

Those sounds – like my battered copy's packaging – were gritty, rough, perfectly unpolished. The album was filled with bravado, the songs seemingly shambolic, unrehearsed and the playlist was sprawling, with more than a dozen tracks. The Stones tapped into America's eclectic songbook, borrowing lines from country, blues, soul, swamp and the heyday of the rock and roll era – and it all sounded genuine. The recording of Exile was shrouded in mystique, a model of rebellion amid tales of wild decadence and hedonism at Nellcôte, the French mansion-cum-studio rented by Keith Richards. Even the ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit
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