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In the Lab with Les Paul

Friday, May 3: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alana Jansen
Les Paul performs live at the 2008 American Music Masters honoring the famed guitarist

I began my internship at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Library and Archives expecting to be busy with basic preservation tasks and minor conservation duties, such as creating enclosures for documents and rehousing materials. What I ended up doing instead was much more exciting, and it provided me with a much richer internship experience than I ever imagined.

I began by preparing the conservation lab, creating a conservation policy and expanding on the Library and Archives’ existing conservation manual. With everything in place, it was time to work on the collection most in need of treatment: the Les Paul Papers. The papers were in rough shape at the time of acquisition, as many of the documents and files were moldy and covered in rust from old staples and paper clips. The items with the most obvious mold damage were bagged and placed in quarantine until they could be cleaned, but mold seemed to be everywhere I looked in the collection.

rare Les PaulCleaning mold is not a simple task and requires special care and technique. Wearing personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, mask and apron, I carefully cleaned each item in the collection with conservation grade sponges ...

continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Library and Archives, Exhibit

Cleveland Soul: Interview with Lou Ragland

Wednesday, February 13: 2 p.m.
Posted by Carlo Wolff
Cleveland soul man Lou Ragland will appear live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Musician Lou Ragland was born in Cleveland in 1942. His first instrument was saxophone, his choice after rejecting his high school music teacher’s suggestion he play tuba. Inspired by everyone from Brahms to Nat “King” Cole to Ella Fitzgerald, Ragland locked onto soul at 13, when he heard Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers sing “Goody Goody.” 

In the early ‘60s, Ragland sang in the storied doo-wop group the Sahibs (along with Hesitations founder Art Blakey and current Hesitation George Hendricks, who taught Ragland rudimentary guitar). He first recorded with the Bandmasters, releasing “Never Let Me Go/Party in Lester’s” on Way Out in 1965. The group waxed that 45 at Cleveland Recording on Euclid Avenue. “The Bandmasters was the music and the Sahibs were the voices, and I sang lead, ” says Ragland, who also recorded for Way Out under the name Volcanic Eruption, with George Hendricks. 

“I was the first artist they produced on Way Out, but after they found out that I could engineer and play instruments, they didn’t do anymore on me,” says Ragland. “They didn’t want to lose me to the art world, they wanted me to pump out these songs.” Way Out ...

continue Categories: Exclusive Interviews, Education, Black History Month, Foster Theatre, Event

Through the Lens of Jimmy Baynes: Cleveland Rock and Roll History

Friday, February 8: 4:40 p.m.
Posted by Jennie Thomas
Photographer Jimmy Baynes' images provide a candid look at African-American life, music and culture.

Cleveland has been a hive of live music for decades. The city experienced tremendous growth in the years following World War II and, with it, an explosion of live music venues. The core of this activity took place on the east side of the city, home to Cleveland’s African-American population. Clubs like the Music Box, the Tia Juana, Leo’s Casino and Gleason’s hosted the best jazz, blues and R&B performers the era had to offer. The economic prosperity of the time was mirrored in the pulsing entertainment scene. 

Following this lively scene was postal worker Jimmy H. Baynes (July 12, 1922 – September 9, 2010), who supplemented his weekly paycheck through Baynes Foto Service at 2220 East 87th Street, primarily photographing local events in the African-American community. Though Baynes was not a trained photographer, the images he created over  three decades, from the 1950s into the 1980s – whether they are of weddings, beauty competitions, burlesque shows or live music performances  – provide an authentic and candid glimpse into African-American life, music and culture. Throughout the years, Baynes’ photographs appeared in Cleveland magazines and newspapers, such as the Call and Post.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and ...

continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Library and Archives, Education, Black History Month

Spotlight Exhibit: 2-Tone Records

Tuesday, December 4: 5 a.m.
2 Tone is the focus of new Spotlight Exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

In this post, Rock Hall curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger, who traveled to the UK to collect and research for a new 2-Tone Records exhibit, shares background on the label and its lasting impact on popular culture.

Between 1979 and 1986, the 2-Tone label released 28 singles – 20 of which charted in the U.K. – including hits by the Specials, the Selecter, Madness, the Bodysnatchers and the Beat (known as the English Beat outside of the U.K.). Although only the English Beat –and to a lesser extent, Madness – ever had much success outside of the U.K., the 2-Tone movement combined infectious dance music and progressive ideals to confront the status quo. 2-Tone laid the groundwork for the success of such American artists as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Toasters, Fishbone, Smash Mouth, Sublime, Reel Big Fish, the Pietasters and the multi-platinum selling No Doubt.

Two Tone record label exhibit reggae punk ska2-Tone was a group of black and white kids from Coventry, Birmingham and London, England – white punk rockers and black rude-boys and -girls who stood against the economic policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government and the Neo-Nazi National Front, promoted racial harmony through the irresistible and exuberant rhythm of ska music and revolutionized ...

continue Categories: Exhibit, Spotlight Exhibit

Chuck Berry at the Rock Hall's Library and Archives

Tuesday, November 6: 5:21 p.m.
Posted by Andy Leach
Chuck Berry and his wife Themetta visit the Rock Hall's Library and Archives on October 27, 2012

On Saturday, October 27, we were truly honored when Hall of Fame Inductee and 2012 American Music Masters honoree Chuck Berry – along with his family, band members, and friends – paid a visit to the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives. After I gave them a brief overview of the Library and Archives and a quick tour of our Library Reading Room, Berry and his group spent time viewing the materials in our Chuck Berry archival exhibit, which was curated by our head archivist Jennie Thomas. Next, the Rock Hall's curatorial director Howard Kramer and I led the group into our Archives Reading Room, where I had pulled out a number of materials from our collections in advance of the group’s visit.

These materials included posters from 1950s rock and roll shows featuring Berry himself, as well as legendary performers such as Big Joe Turner, Muddy Waters, and Elmore James; photographs of Louis Jordan from various archival collections; recording session logs from the Milt Gabler Papers; our collection of Big Joe Turner’s personal papers, which includes letters, passports and photographs; 78-rpm records of the Nat King Cole Trio and the Benny Goodman Sextet (the latter featuring one ...

continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Library and Archives, Education, Exhibit

Otis Redding's Last Day in Cleveland

Friday, December 9: 4 p.m.
Otis Redding

December 9, 1967 was a busy day for Otis Redding. The first stop on his winter tour was Cleveland, Ohio, where he was scheduled to appear on the locally produced, nationally syndicated (in 98 markets around the country) television show Upbeat, as well as perform two concerts at legendary nightclub Leo’s Casino. The singer was eager to get back on the road after a three-month break recovering from surgery for throat polyps. He had just recorded what was to become the biggest and most enduring hit of his career, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Redding started that Saturday at the WEWS studios at 30th and Euclid Avenue for Upbeat rehearsals. Upbeat host Don Webster recalled on the website that typically the show would be rehearsed from about 9 am until noon, working on the technical aspects like blocking and lighting. After that, the production team and talent would break for lunch and come back at 1 pm to do the taping. It would take two to three hours to tape the one-hour show. That show was broadcast at 5 pm, the same day of the taping. Webster never did a lot of pre-interviewing, feeling that ...

continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Today in Rock

American Music Masters Moments: Les Paul

Wednesday, October 26: 2 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Slash and Les Paul at 2008 American Music MastersĀ® event

American Music Masters Moments: Les Paul is the first installment in a series that shares stories from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters® events through the years. Beginning in 1996 with a tribute to Woody Guthrie, the American Music Masters series has honored artists who've been instrumental in the development of rock and roll with a range of events celebrating their careers. Each AMM brings together musicians from around the world, setting the stage for special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. These are those stories. 

From their inception in 1996, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s American Music Masters programs have been sensational, but the one that I have the fondest memories of is the 2008 tribute to Les Paul. One of the great highlights of my job is the fact that I was lucky enough to get to know Les. In 2004, I worked with Les to put together and exhibit The New Sound: Les Paul and the Electric Guitar. When the exhibit opened, Les and his trio came to Cleveland and performed on the main stage in the museum’s lobby. That exhibit is still up on the second floor of ...

continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exhibit, Event

Today in Rock: Wanda Jackson is Born

Thursday, October 20: 9 a.m.
Wanda Jackson

The rockabilly field of the 1950s wasn’t exactly crowded with female performers, but Wanda Jackson didn’t let that stop her from making her mark. Born on October 20, 1937, she emerged from a small town in Oklahoma to become the first Queen of Rockabilly. With encouragement from Elvis Presley, whom she met while on a package tour in 1955, Jackson moved from country music to rock and roll. "I was just doing straight country, and that's all I had ever planned on doing. [Elvis] started talking to me about his kind of music – we didn't really have a name for it at that point," said Jackson during a 2009 Hall of Fame series interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Vice President of Education and Public Programs Lauren Onkey. "I said look, I love it of course, but you're a guy, you can sing it, and I just don't think I can do it. He just kept insisting that I could do it – he said, 'you got the voice.' He took me out to his home in Memphis, and we played records that afternoon. 

"He made me promise that somewhere along ...

continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Exclusive Interviews
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