The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

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The Frankie Sardo Story

Thursday, February 11: 1:45 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison

Frankie Sardo is not a rock and roll star. He never sold a million albums or reached the top of the charts. He is not a household name. However, he is a vital character in one of the most important chapters of rock and roll history. Frankie Sardo was the opening act for the 1959 Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, which was the last concert performance for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. The three music legends were killed when their plane crashed following their performance at the Surf Ballroom on February 3, 1959. A little over 51 years after that fateful night, Frankie Sardo returned to the Surf Ballroom for the first time.

In a continuing partnership with the Surf Ballroom, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum co-sponsored a luncheon with the Surf as part of the Winter Dance Party event on February 6, 2010, in Clear Lake. The luncheon featured a one-on-one interview with Frankie Sardo. This interview was the first time Sardo has publicly spoken about his memories and stories surrounding the tour.

Sardo never wanted to be a rock and roll star. He was invited ...

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Fashion Meets Rock and Roll

Friday, February 12: 12 p.m.

Assistant Curator Meredith Rutledge discusses late fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s influence on the look of rock and roll

When talking about rock and roll’s relationship to the world of fashion, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame chief curator Jim Henke said, “virtually every artist defines (themselves) as much by the way they look as by the music they play.”

It’s been said that fashion and style are the natural visual counterparts to creative musical expression. Rock and roll artists have had a long relationship with the world of high fashion — picture Elvis Presley’s iconic gold lamé suit designed by Nudie, then fast forward to Madonna’s equally iconic gold bustier designed by Jean Paul Gaultier.  Fashion designers like Gaultier, Thierry Mugler and  Gianni Versace have all become synonymous with the branding of rock stars like Madonna, Mick Jagger and Elton John. That’s why the tragic death of clothing designer Alexander McQueen, whom Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour called “one of the greatest talents of his generation,” has especially resonated here at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. McQueen was a favorite designer of the rock world, creating red carpet, stage and album cover looks ...

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Happy Birthday, Beachland Ballroom!

Tuesday, March 2: 12:44 p.m.

In the spirit of rock and roll and pride for the Cleveland music scene, the Rock Hall frequently partners with area venues in celebration of rock and roll as an art form, and one such venue is the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern. In its now 10 year run, the Beachland has become one of the most renowned places to perform at and see live music. Rock Hall Assistant Curator Meredith Rutledge shares its history and hopes with Beachland co-owner Cindy Barber.

A local and national music treasure celebrates its 10th anniversary March 5. Cindy Barber, co-owner of the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, an anchor of Cleveland’s North Collinwood neighborhood, is planning on commemorating this milestone with t-shirts sporting the slogan, “The Beachland – Celebrating 10 Years of Deficit Spending!” When asked about her inspiration for starting a music venue, Barber replies, “Insanity is what made me think of starting the Beachland!” Barber is only half-joking about the challenges that have faced the Beachland during its run as one of the nation’s premier and most eclectic venues. She had been working as co-founder and editor of the Cleveland Free Times, and at the end of the 1990s was offered another ...

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Exhibit A

Friday, April 2: 3:25 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can't believe I get paid to do what I do. For more than ten years, I've told the world about the power of rock and roll, its influence as a cultural movement and its ability to make the world a better place. It's true. This music can take you by surprise and leave you changed. This happens too at...let's say...a neighborhood bar where a local band stuns everyone, and we're all better for it.

I'm not usually at a loss for words, but what I saw last night at Brother's Lounge is hard to describe. The short of it, I'm proud. Last night was the debut performance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's all-employee band "Exhibit A"- named by the bass player and Chief Curator here at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jim Henke.

The local media had written stories. Everyone was coming. The pressure was on. Given their day jobs, these guys and gals HAD to be good. So to get it better than right "Exhibit A" put in long ...

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Cleveland Lottery League

Friday, April 9: 9:19 a.m.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is proud to support the Cleveland music scene in featuring performances by local bands every summer, sharing the stage with national artists such as Man Man, Akron/Family and Chairlift during the Museum’s Summer Sessions concert series. The city’s wide array of artists perform just about every genre of music, and the bi-annual Cleveland Lottery League at the Beachland Ballroom is just one more way the power of music proves to bring people together.

Two years ago something completely original, completely Cleveland, and very special happened when 144 area musicians got together in a way never imagined before as part of the first ever Cleveland Lottery League.  Essentially a community art project like no other, 33 all-new bands were formed, their efforts culminating with a concert for something the League was calling, and very aptly so, THE BIG SHOW 2008.
I was there the night of THE BIG SHOW 2008, and no exaggerated-filled explanation written here can truly capture the civic pride and sheer magic of what was presented that night.
Now, two years later, we are one day away from what is planned be a bi-annual event for ...

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Partnering with the Unsung Heroes of New Orleans Music Scene

Friday, July 2: 2:50 p.m.
Posted by Terry Stewart

An exciting sidebar to our recent trip to New Orleans (see previous blog) concerns the Museum’s partnering with the Louisiana Museum system to assist in the restoration of one of Fats Domino’s pianos.  As most know, Mr. Domino lost virtually everything because of the flooding from Katrina.  This included his pianos.

The remains of one is on display at the Cabildo in New Orleans’ Jackson Square as part of the exhibit Unsung Heroes: The Secret History of Louisiana Rock ‘n’ Roll.  A second one is about to be restored and used as a performance instrument in a new exhibit.  Sam Rykels, Director, informed us that they were looking for the financial support to put the piano back in playing condition.  We felt that this was an excellent opportunity for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to help out and start to forge a relationship with this wonderful institution in the city which is the cradle of the music that we celebrate.

As the project progresses, we’ll keep everyone informed, so stay tuned.

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Get to know: FREE ENERGY | "We're going to rock the Hall of Fame."

Tuesday, July 20: 2:15 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Free Energy will perform at the Rock Hall on July 21, part of the Summer in the City free concerts.

Philadelphia rock band Free Energy will perform for the first time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Wednesday, July 21 as part of the free Summer in the City concert series. The band formed in the fall of 2007 and garnered attention with their melodic, hook-laden dance-rock tunes. Their new album 'Stuck on Nothing' has received critical acclaim from fans and the media: Rolling Stone magazine labeled Free Energy as a band to watch this year and have since appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman. 

We caught up with Paul Sprangers of the band for some background on Free Energy and thoughts on performing at the Museum for the first time.

How did Free Energy form?
After our band Hockey Night ended, Scott and I signed to DFA with nothing but a collection of demos and a distant dream. A year after writing and recording, we went to NYC to record with James Murphy. After five months of recording, we could no longer stand sleeping in the DFA office, so we moved to Philadelphia where we rented a house and started assembling the band. Now, Free Energy is a wild, ass shaking five-piece ...

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The New Orleans Spirit

Friday, October 29: 12:47 p.m.
Posted by Greg Harris
Dave Bartholomew performs at the landmark dedication at J&M Studios at New Orleans.

The Crescent City is coming to Cleveland and we are welcoming her with open arms! In a few weeks a remarkable group of nearly 40 New Orleans musicians, tradition bearers bringing 70+ years of incredible music, will help us honor Fats Domino and his longtime collaborator Dave Bartholomew as American Music Masters.

I fell in love with New Orleans through the LP recordings of Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Huey Piano Smith, and the Wild Tchoupitoulas—and one very well worn truckstop cassette compilation tape that featured “Carnival Time,” “Mardi Gras Mambo,””Iko Iko,” “Walking to New Orleans” and a handful of other songs.  This blossomed when as a twenty-something I traveled there with Robert Gordon—not the singer but the Memphis-born music scholar and filmmaker—the perfect tour guide to what was clearly his second city.  The trip started in Philadelphia when we climbed into a massive 1969 Cadillac Sedan Deville—and headed south. Somewhere in Virginia we realized that if we shut the car off it would not restart, so we kept it running all the way to Atlanta, added a passenger and continued directly to New Orleans.

As if on cue we picked up WWOZ as we blew ...

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