In the mid-1950s rock and roll exploded onto the American cultural landscape, and it soon became clear that it was here to stay. This class will examine how teenagers fell in love with the music, listening to it on transistor radios, buying it in record stores on 45rpm records, and watching live performances on television and in films. We will also discuss the role of early rock and roll DJ and Hall of Fame Inductee Alan Freed. The evening will also include guest lecturer Howard Kramer, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
In conjunction with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Black History Month celebration of Funk music, this month’s Rock and Roll Night School was replaced with a Hall of Fame Series with Bootsy Collins.
The Sun Records label produced more rock and roll records than any other label of its time. It was an early home to Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf and more of rock and roll’s greatest talents. This class will examine how Sam Phillips started the Memphis Recording Service in 1950 and launched Sun Records in 1952, and will feature music by Sun recording artists.
Chess Records was the pre-eminent blues label of the Fifties and Sixties that also released a mind-boggling flood of R&B and rock and roll talent that included Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, Etta James and Little Walter.
This month’s Rock and Roll Night School was replaced with a Hall of Fame Series with Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together. In this class we will listen to such hit songs as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Rock and Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” watch classic video footage, and examine the life of a rock and roll originator.
This program featured a discussion from Michael Gray, the author of such acclaimed books as Song and Dance Man #3: The Art of Bob Dylan and The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. The program was presented in conjunction with the exhibit, “Bob Dylan’s American Journey: 1956-1966”.
Little Richard blew the lid off the Fifties, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. His tenure at Specialty Records began in 1955 and made him one of the original architects of rock and roll. He made spine-tingling music using frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.”
The program featured a presentation by Bob Gruen, one of the most well-known and respected photographers in rock and roll, who spoke about his experience photographing the Clash. The program was presented in conjunction with the exhibit, “Revolution Rock: The Story of the Clash”.