I'd say that 100 percent of music is political, that music either supports the status quo or challenges the status quo, so every artist is political. Now, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez probably don't self-identify as political artists, but their music, while often very entertaining and loved by their fan bases, is the bread and circuses of our times. If you're not questioning authority, you're tacitly submitting to authority. That's not to say that I don't have a long list of booty-shaking jams on my iPod, and there's certainly a place for that, but I'm also conscious of the fact that in my own work, that what you say and what you do matters, that you are a historical agent, and that if you don't have your hands on the steering wheel, somebody else does.
What does it take to preserve rock and roll history? Jun Francisco knows.
Since 1999, Francisco has been the Director of Collections Management at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Born half way around the globe in the Philippines, he grew up listening to rock and roll fed to him by a radio station called “the Rock of Manila." His role allows him to be a fan and an in-demand expert.
He received his MA in Museum Studies from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and a BA in History from Missouri Southern State University. He has worked at museums in Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan, New York and Ohio, and has served on the Boards of the Association of Midwest Museums, Arkansas Museums Association and Michigan Museums Association. He is a past chair of the Asian Pacific Professional Interest Committee of the American Alliance of Museums. He also loves the Clash.
Having just managed collections for the Rock Hall's new 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee exhibit – including a trip to Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen's house – Francisco had a few minutes to tell us about his adventures.
As the Rock Hall's director of collections, what ...
Metallica looking very metal in 1986 / photo by Ross Halfin / via metallica.com
As a child of the 80s, my first intro to Metallica came via MTV's Headbangers Ball, specifically the video for ...And Justice for All's epic metal anthem "One." Shot mostly in black-and-white, with scenes and dialogue from Johnny Got His Gun interspersed with the group thrashing in an abandoned warehouse, the video was intense, creepy, brutal – and all the other superlatives that inspired shock and awe in my impressionable young mind. I was hooked with full-on Beavis & Butt-head excitement. Like any enterprising adolesccent metalhead, I was soon fully immersed in Metallica's first three albums: Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. To the chagrin of my parents and their eardrums, the latter became my favorite. On the 30th anniversary of its release, listening to Master again took me headbanging down memory lane.
Master of Puppets not only pushed the limits of the metal genre in terms of sheer musicianship and creative force, but also redefined the paths to success and critical acclaim.
Metallica's meteoric ascent began in earnest with the release of 1983's Kill 'Em All, introducing the band ...
Not even Nirvana's most ardent early advocates could've predicted the near-immediate – much less lasting – impact Nevermind had following its September 1991 release. By the following January, it was already topping charts and the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video was part of MTV's regular rotation. Yet less than a month after their major label debut, the band members – most adamantly frontman Kurt Cobain – were struggling to adapt to attention and adulation.
Meeting a hungover and young group in a New York City hotel on September 29, 1991, journalist Susan Rees interviewed Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl in what became Nirvana's first national magazine cover feature, for the Jan/Feb 1992 issue of Alternative Press magazine.
"Just getting through this interview proved too much for the press-weary band," wrote Rees. "Spread out about as far as three people can spread out in one small New York City hotel room, they tried to be responsive, but Sunday afternoon weighed heavily on them. Novoselic, who did offer a Beck's and some Pepperidge Farm cookies, showed more interest in watching television, drummer David Grohl was polite but didn't have much to say and vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kurt ...
Photo: Glenn Frey, ca. 1994, photographer unknown. From the Jeff Gold Collection at the Rock Hall's Library & Archives.
It's been a rough start to 2016 for rock fans mourning the loss of two Hall of Fame Inductees: David Bowie and Glenn Frey. Tributes have poured in from around the globe, a testament to the lasting impact and widespread influence of the music each created. Last week, we looked back on some of the David Bowie songs that shaped rock and roll, and this week it's only fitting we rewind to one of the Eagles' most enduring hits: "Take It Easy."
Guitarist Glenn Frey was a rocker from Detroit who headed to Los Angeles, where he befriended fellow musicians Jackson Browne and John David Souther. Drummer Don Henley and Frey met while backing Linda Ronstadt. Guitarist Bernie Leadon had previously done time with Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman in the Flying Burrito Brothers; bassist Randy Meisner was a founding member of Poco with Richie Furay and had played in Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band. And they had all played together on Ronstadt's Silk Purse. No wonder they sounded accomplished from the get-go.
Decades later, in 2014 ...
Doug Bradley, author of DEROS Vietnam, has written extensively about his Vietnam, and post-Vietnam, experiences. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1970 and served one year as an information specialist (journalist) at U.S. Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV) headquarters near Saigon.
I first became a soldier in a war zone on Veterans Day (November 11) 1970. It’s an irony I’ve wrestled with for 45 years, due in part to the precise timing of U. S. Army tours of duty in Vietnam, which meant that Uncle Sam would send me back home exactly 365 days later — on November 11, 1971.
Needless to say, the date is etched in my mind and will always be. It’s personal, of course, but in a way it’s lyrical, too. I say that because my earliest Vietnam memories aren’t about guns and bullets, but rather about music.
As my fellow “newbies” and I were being transported from Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base to the Army’s 90th Replacement Battalion at Long Binh, I vividly recall hearing Smokey Robinson and The Miracles singing “Tears of a Clown.” That pop song was blasting from four or five ...
Compassion, peace and a celebratory atmosphere have loyally followed the Grateful Dead for five decades, yet the reformed group's November 13, 2015 concert began on a somber note.
After taking the stage with his Dead & Company bandmates, grabbing his guitar and briefly warming his fingers, Bob Weir started the show with a eulogy: “So to begin, we have some bad news from Paris. And really I think the best thing we can do, all of us are doing, is remember, celebrate the lives of the 60 or so Parisian concertgoers who died today at the hands of religious extremists, who if they had their way, would outlaw music in all the world." He implored Deadheads to celebrate the lives of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks "and the joy that they found in music.”
For the hours leading up to the Dead & Company tour stop at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena, social media feeds and news reports were filled with the news unfolding across the globe; and with tragedy occurring at a concert, I could not help feel grief, slight paranoia and empathy.
Following Weir’s dedication, he and the band (John Mayer on guitar and ...
In 1995, Hall of Fame Inductee Johnny Cash’s youngest daughter Tara gave her famous father a book – Dad, Share Your Life With Me by Kathleen Lashier – containing 365 questions. One year later, on her birthday, he returned the book to her with answers to all the questions.
"This book helps to really paint a picture of what life was like for my Dad, what his interests were, his family traditions, his feelings about so many things... this book is one of my personal treasures, and it gives me great pleasure to share it with his fans," explains Tara. "I was very proud of my father for not only what he accomplished, but who he was as a person and father."
Those questions and answers form the basis of Recollections, a new book based on the original Tara sent her father, though reformatted with personal notes and photos – a unique story in Cash's own handwriting.
"The main reason I wanted to share this book, is to let my father's fans see a more playful, fun and candid side of him," says Tara.
"I also wanted to give the public an inside look into another facet of my father ...