The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


Today in Rock :: Blog

Sharing the Charts: Pop, R&B and Rock and Roll's Meteoric Rise

Tuesday, May 1: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Little Richard

When the May 12, 1956 issue of Billboard magazine hit newsstands, its pages cataloged a monumental shift in the charts. The issue reported the chart positions for the week ending May 2, 1956, with the usual suspects of the era holding steady positions in the Top 10 of the pop charts: Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and the Platters, among them. More telling, however, was the fact that each of those five artists also had singles in the Top 10 of the R&B charts. The chart positions reflected greater sociological movements in the United States, to wit the burgeoning civil rights movement, and an emerging respect for African American culture and identity as being truly American, but there would be a backlash. 

Presley had signed with RCA Victor in 1956, and his first release under his new label was "Heartbreak Hotel." Producer Steve Sholes had worked to recapture the "Sun sound" for "Heartbreak," enlisting guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black, drummer DJ Fontana, guitarist Chet Atkins, pianist Floyd Kramer and three members of the Jordanaires on backing vocals. On May 2, 1956, the song was at Number One on the Billboard pop ...


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

Today in Rock: Bruce Springsteen Lands an Audition with Columbia Records

Thursday, May 3: 12 p.m.
Bruce Springsteen's big break came in 1972

By the time Bruce Springsteen walked into CBS Studios in New York in May of 1972 to audition for Columbia Records, he’d been playing in rock and roll bands for seven years – from the garage rock/soul hybrid of the Castiles to the thundering guitar jams of Steel Mill to the soul music of the Bruce Springsteen Band. Steel Mill built up a following along the East Coast and even recorded a few demos for Bill Graham in February of 1970. But Springsteen had no experience with record companies or serious recording studios. He was also at a crossroads in his career. Although he’d had local success, he was unsure of his future direction. He signed a management contract as a solo artist with Mike Appel, who encouraged him to develop his songwriting, in hopes of possibly having Springsteen emerge in the popular singer-songwriter mold.

Appel managed to get an audition for Springsteen with the legendary John Hammond – a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee. Hammond had been at the center of popular music since 1938, when he organized the From Spirituals to Swing concerts at Carnegie Hall. He signed some of the most important artists of ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Today in Rock

Remembering Adam Yauch

Friday, May 4: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Adam Yauch aka MCA (8.5.1964 – 5.4.2012)

Adam Yauch, better known to fans of the Beastie Boys as MCA, passed away on Friday, May 4, 2012, after a battle with cancer that began in 2009. He was 47.

Born on August 5, 1964, the vocalist and bassist was raised in New York City, a fertile backdrop that informed the street-smart attitude and urban swagger of the Beastie Boys. Formed as a hardcore quartet in 1981 with Yauch and Michael Diamond aka Mike D, drummer Kate Schellenbach and guitarist John Berry, this earliest incarnation of the Beastie Boys played its first gig at Yauch's 17th birthday party. This was the same lineup that recorded the group's debut eight-song EP, Polly Wog Stew, which included the hardcore manifesto "Beastie Boys." When Berry left the group, Adam Horowitz aka ADROCK was recruited and the newly formed band cut a 12-inch single for "Cooky Puss"/"Beastie Revolution." When Schellenbach left the group (later joining Luscious Jackson), the three-man posse of MCs took shape.

The Beastie Boys brashly announced themselves to the world with the full-length Licensed to Ill (1986), produced by Rick Rubin. A milestone rap-rock release, it contained a feisty statement of purpose (“The New Style”) and ...


continue Categories: Today in Rock, Inductee

Remembering Donald "Duck" Dunn

Monday, May 14: 2 p.m.
Donald "Duck" Dunn (11.24.41 – 5.13.12)

As one half of Booker T. and the MGs’ rhythm section, Donald "Duck" Dunn was house bass player at the legendary Stax label, where his artistry helped define one of the most distinctive and enduring sounds in popular music. Among the recordings for which Dunn laid down the bottom end: Otis Redding’s “Respect,” “Dock of the Bay” and “I've Been Loving You Too Long;” Wilson Pickett's “In the Midnight Hour” and Sam and Dave’s “Hold On I'm Coming” and “Soul Man.” He also played on sessions with such artists as Neil Young, Eric Clapton and Jerry Lee Lewis, to name but a few.

Born in Memphis on November 24, 1941, Dunn was given his nickname by his father as the two watched a Donald Duck cartoon on television. Although one of his grandfathers played fiddle, there was no music in Dunn’s immediate family. He recalled: "My father was a candy maker. He made peppermints and hard candies. He didn't want me to go into the music industry. He thought I would become a drug addict and die. Most parents in those days thought music was a pastime – something you did as a ...


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

The Story of "Ohio"

Thursday, May 17: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The single for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio"/"Find The Cost Of Freedom"

In May 1970, Neil Young came to his bandmates David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills with a powerful new song: "Ohio." After three days of agitated student-led protests of the invasion of Cambodia, the already incendiary situation at Kent State University exploded on the afternoon of May 4, 1970, when 28 National Guardsmen fired as many as 67 shots into a crowd of people. The 13-second barrage killed four students – Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer – and injured nine more. In the wake of the tragedy, President Richard Nixon's military orders in Southeast Asia came under increasingly fervent scrutiny, while John Paul Filo's Pulitzer prize–winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio screaming beside the lifeless body of Jeffrey Miller was forever ingrained into the American social consciousness as a poignant reminder of the domestic turmoil during the Vietnam Era. Other images from the shooting appeared as part of the May 15,1970 Life magazine cover story, an issue that reportedly found its way to Neil Young via David Crosby.

In the liner notes of his 1977 anthology, Decade, Young wrote: "It's still hard to believe I had to write this song. It's ...


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

Remembering Robin Gibb

Wednesday, May 23: 10:26 a.m.
Robin Gibb (12.22.49 – 5.20.12)

Robin Hugh Gibb was born on the Isle of Man on December 22, 1949. Robin was the fraternal twin brother of Maurice Gibb. In 1958, the Gibb family emigrated to Australia and settled in Brisbane. There, the twins, along with their older brother, Barry became known as the Bee Gees and found some success hosting a weekly television show. They released their first single in 1963, which reflected their trademark three-part harmony sound. Robin shared lead vocal duties with Barry, and the trio was heavily influenced by such English rock acts as the Beatles. The brothers collaborated in writing most of the group's original songs. Their first Australian hit came in 1966 ("Spicks and Specks"), and its success subsidized the family’s return to England in 1967. Over the next two years, the Bee Gees launched a string of hit singles executed in a brooding, distinctively British pop style. From this period came such well-crafted, harmony-rich songs as “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” “To Love Somebody,” “Massachusetts,” “Words,” “I’ve Got to Get a Message to You” and “I Started a Joke.”

Following a temporary breakup, the Bee Gees kicked off the Seventies with another round of pop ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Today in Rock

Album Notes: the Mamas and the Papas' "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears"

Friday, May 25: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Mamas and the Papas censored cover for If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

For the week of May 21, 1966, the Mamas and the Papas debut album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, peaked at Number One on the Billboard 200. The group of New York folk vagabonds whose post-beatnik image and soaring harmonies bridged folk rock and imminent psychedelia had emerged from the "New Folk" movement of the late Fifties and early Sixties, delivering a seminal debut album with an unexpectedly controversial cover. 

John Phillips had been a member of the Journeymen, a folk trio that also included Dick Weissmann and Scott McKenzie. (McKenzie would go on record a song of Phillips’, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” that became a hit during the summer of 1967.) In a similar vein, Cass Elliot had been in the Big Three, while Denny Doherty belonged to the Halifax Three. Both Elliot and Doherty came together in the Mugwumps, which also included John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, later of the Lovin’ Spoonful. Michelle Phillips was an aspiring model (born Holly Michelle Gilliam) and the wife of John Phillips.

the mamas and the papas california dreaminJohn, Michelle and Doherty performed in the New Journeymen, a temporary group put together to fulfill contractual obligations after the ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Today in Rock

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 ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Today in Rock
previous Page 4 of 9. next