In 1983, A small group of music industry professionals led by Atlantic Records Founder and Chairman Ahmet Ertegun and including Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, attorney Allen Grubman, manager Jon Landau and record executives Seymour Stein, Bob Krasnow along with attorney Suzan Evans set out to establish an organization to “recognize the people who have created this music which has become the most popular music of our time.” Ertegun approached the heads of various record companies with his idea, spearheading the formation of the non-profit organization that would eventually become the Foundation.
In 1986, the Foundation held the first annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom in New York City. That same year, the Foundation selected Cleveland as the permanent home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
In September 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened in Cleveland. A series of events, including an all-star celebration concert featuring the Allman Brothers, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Mellencamp, Iggy Pop, the Pretenders, Bruce Springsteen, Booker T. & the MG’s and others unveiled the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to the world.
In 2006, Joel Peresman, a music industry veteran and former chief of Concerts and Entertainment at Madison Square Garden, became President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Under Peresman’s leadership, the Foundation announced the return of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies to Cleveland in 2009 and every three years thereafter. The Foundation also staged the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary concerts on October 29 and 30, 2009, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. These events featured legendary performances by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Jeff Beck, Sting, Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, U2, Metallica, Mick Jagger and many others. These historic shows and their broadcast on HBO helped fund the first-ever endowment for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.
In addition to these projects, the Foundation provided an $8 million gift in 2008 to the Museum’s Capital Campaign, which was used to build the Library and Archives center in downtown Cleveland and the 2010-2011 Redesign of the Museum interior. The Foundation also provides funding for Museum capital projects on an on-going basis and continues to be the largest single contributor to the Museum.
Beyond funding, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation leverages its presence in one of the world’s major cultural and philanthropic centers to provide increased exposure for the Museum mission, connections to artists and philanthropists, and other partnerships to advance the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s cultural preservation initiatives.