The sheer emotional impact of Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” sparked my fascination. His squealing guitar effects depicting the incoming descent of bombs that were soon “bursting in air,” grabbed me, especially as intensified on film when Hendrix “lip synched” the resulting cries and screams. His performance makes the abstract so very human. For me Hendrix’s Woodstock anthem of August 18, 1969, remains atop the list of the most powerful performances of Francis Scott Key’s song ever created.
The Woodstock anthem gets even more interesting when compared with the other 40 or so surviving recordings of Hendrix performing the song. They reveal Hendrix’s artistic as well as political evolution and define the critical and patriotic extremes of his expression to place Woodstock firmly in the middle as a combination of both. Here's a look at five incredible Hendrix versions of "The Star Spangled Banner.' Want more Hendrix? Catch Mark Clague going deep on all-things Hendrix at the Rock Hall's Library and Archives on Wednesday, March 25, 2015!
Hendrix first references the anthem melody a year ...
In advance of opening the latest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits on March, 13, 2015, the Rock Hall caught up with Chris Isaak for a look back at 1989's "Wicked Game" music video directed by Herb Ritts and featuring supermodel Helena Christensen.
What was the song "Wicked Game" about? Did the on-camera chemistry with supermodel Helena Christensen happen off-camera, too? What was photographer/director Herb Ritts' vision for the video? Chris Isaak answers all those questions and more.
Rock Hall: What was the song "Wicked Game" about?
Chris Isaak: It's about four in the morning, and somebody calling and saying I'm coming over to your house and I thought right after I said okay, I thought I should have never allowed this person to come over to my house. I know what's going to happen.
And I wrote the song between the time I got off the phone and the person came over to visit. It was just about what happens when you have a strong attraction to people that aren't necessarily good for you.
I think it hit a nerve because I think a lot of us ...
In the pantheon of rock and roll's greatest guitarists, there is a cadre of fabled axemen who consistently bubble to the top, including such Hall of Fame Inductees as Jeff Beck, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, BB King and Jimmy Page – all artists represented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. And no discussion of six-string masters would be complete without Eddie Van Halen, the innovative firebrand that turned the world of guitar playing on its ear in the late 70s and early 1980s. "I was so used to doing old blues licks with the first three fingers," Van Halen once explained to a reporter. "When I started using my pinky and finding more spread things, that's when I started getting my own style." That style went on to influence millions of budding shredders. Here are five tracks that contributed to that influence:
Guitar Solo, from Live Without a Net (1986)
Van Halen went out with something to prove during the live tour for the 5150 album. With new singer Sammy Hagar, the band had to show fans and critics alike that it could keep rocking without Diamond Dave ...
Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is proud to announce the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees. The Rock Hall's 2015 class includes the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Green Day, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and Bill Withers, all in the performer category.
This year's class also recognizes the "5" Royales with the early influences award, and former Beatle and solo artist Ringo Starr enters the Hall of Fame – the last of the Fab Four to be inducted as a soloist, following John Lennon in 1994, Paul McCartney in 1999 and George Harrison in 2004.
“As we mark 30 years of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, we’re proud to honor these artists,” said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President Joel Peresman. "These Inductees epitomize rock and roll’s impact over the past 50 years and continuing through today."
Leading up to the April 18, 2015 ceremony, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will host a series of special events, including the grand opening of the major new 2015 Inductee exhibit, which will serve as an introduction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame visitor ...
The Band, more than any other group, put rock and roll back in touch with its roots. With their ageless songs and solid grasp of musical idioms, the Band reached across the decades, making connections for a generation that was, as an era of violent cultural schisms wound down, in desperate search of them. They projected a sense of community in the turbulent late 60s and early 70s – a time when the fabric of community in the United States was fraying. Guitarist Robbie Robertson drew from history in his evocative, cinematic story–songs, and the vocal triumvirate of bassist Rick Danko, drummer Levon Helm and keyboardist Richard Manuel joined in rustic harmony and traded lines in rich, conversational exchanges. Multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson provided musical coloration in period styles that evoked everything from rural carnivals of the early 20th century to rock and roll revues of the 50s.
In an era of divisive politics, the Band produced music that crossed generational and historical borders. They did so with an ensemble brilliance borne of many years spent playing on the road.
Everything great about the Band can be found on "The Weight," the central piece of their 1968 debut, Music From Big ...
Last night, 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Metallica kicked off a week-long residency on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson with "Hit the Lights" – a fitting opening volley as it was also the opening track of the group's furious 1983 debut album Kill 'Em All.
For more than three decades, Metallica has been the standard by which metal's vitality and virtuosity are measured. Led by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, bassist Cliff Burton and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, the group's debut established the thrash metal sound in America.
Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and …And Justice For All
The Metallica albums that immediately followed Kill 'Em All – Ride the Lightning (1984) and Master of Puppets (1986) – showed increasing levels of ambition, intensity and technicality. On the strength of those recordings, the band enjoyed a surge in popularity, but tragedy struck during a headlining tour of Europe. Traveling on an icy road in Sweden, Metallica's tour bus lost control, crashing and instantly killing bassist Burton in September 1986. Fans of Cliff Burton will recognize the 1978 Rickenbacker 4001 bass guitar that is part of the Rock Hall's heavy ...
Below is an excerpt from Glyn Johns' new book, SOUND MAN: A Life Recording Hits with the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, the Faces... (On sale now, Blue Rider Press).
The previous year, 1970, the Stones had started recording at Mick Jagger’s house out in the country, near Newbury. By this time, the Stones Truck was fully operational and we used the huge entrance hall of the Victorian pile that was Stargroves to record several tracks that were eventually used on Sticky Fingers. I had mentioned to Pete Townshend in conversation that these sessions had gone really well, so he suggested that we go there to start recording Who’s Next.
We began on the first day with “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Not a bad way to start. With Pete’s permission, I edited the synthesizer track from his original demo, as it was a little too long, and played it in to the band in the studio. They performed live to it with remarkable skill, the synthesizer dictating a constant tempo for every bar of the song, with them staying locked relentlessly to it throughout. Roger Daltrey’s powerful vocal equaled ...
Who was Mrs. Roosevelt and what's her relation to Mrs. Robinson? Where did Joe DiMaggio go? Where does Paul Simon come up with his lyrics?
"So goodbye to Mrs. Roosevelt, all along the road down to glory hallelujah," Simon recites from an old handwritten lyric manuscript (pictured) featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's new exhibit, Paul Simon: Words and Music. "I don't think of what I do as writing poetry, but the language may have imagery in it."
Watch Hall of Fame Inductee Paul Simon talk about how "Mrs. Roosevelt" became the famous "Mrs. Robinson," the real background to the "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio" lyric and more:
Opening on October 30, 2014, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland's new exhibit Paul Simon: Words & Music will feature exclusive candid commentary gathered from hours of filmed interview footage that walks the audience through the personal story of Simon’s life and his creative process. This opening marks the Museum’s first-ever exhibit anchored by first-person narration by the artist. In addition to the autobiographical films, there will be videos of select performance highlights from Simon’s ...