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A Moving Tribute to the Late Lou Reed at the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductions

Monday, April 20: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Laurie Anderson accepts Hall of Fame Induction for Lou Reed at 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

"It’s wonderful to be here in Cleveland, and Lou would've loved this," said Laurie Anderson, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Lou Reed's widow. "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the place where the names of great musicians become completely magic words – Buddy Holly, Little Richard, the Coasters. And now, Lou Reed is one of those magic words."

Click to see photos from the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 18, 2015!

Karen O Lou Reed tribute at 2015 Hall of Fame Induction CeremonyAnderson's speech followed an extraordinarily moving induction by Lou Reed's friend and fellow Hall of Fame Inductee Patti Smith. "His consciousness infiltrated and illuminated our cultural voice," she said. "Lou was a poet, able to fold his poetry within his music in the most poignant and plainspoken manner.

"True poets must often stand alone. As a poet, he must be counted as a solitary artist. And so, Lou, thank you for brutally and benevolently injecting your poetry into music."

The speeches were complemented by two powerful tribute performances: Karen O and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did a brilliant version of "Vicious," the opening track on Reed's classic ...

continue Categories: Inductee, History of Punk, History of Rock and Roll, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Event, Hall of Fame, Exhibit

The Rock Hall's Guide to the Essential Lou Reed Songs

Wednesday, April 15: 9 a.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

As both a member of The Velvet Underground and a solo artist, 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Lou Reed transformed music forever with his uncompromised and daring artistic vision that has influenced artists for decades, from David Bowie to U2 to Arcade Fire. Here are my picks for Lou Reed essential tracks.

2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Lou Reed

“Walk on the Wild Side”
Off 1972's Transformer (produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson), “Walk on the Wild Side” was Reed’s first hit after the Velvet Underground broke up and remains his most well know tune till this day. The lyrics of the song told the story of people Reed knew from the Andy Warhol/Factory days, while the iconic bass line has been sampled numerous times in everything from hip-hop to electronica.

“Satellite of Love”
This song was originally demoed by the Velvet Underground in 1970 as a possible track for the Loaded album but was eventually rejected. The lyrics are sung from the point of view of a man who is watching a space launch on TV and simultaneously reflecting on his unfaithful girlfriend. The end of the song features a fantastic vocal arrangement performed by Reed and David Bowie ...

continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit, Event

Is "Transformer" Lou Reed’s Best Solo Work?

Friday, April 10: 3 p.m.
Posted by Jason Hanley

The story of Lou Reed Transformer album 1972 art

In 1970, Lou Reed quit the Velvet Underground at the end of a nine-week performance residency at the famous rock club Max’s Kansas City (in New York City), leaving the VU album Loaded recorded but unmixed; and leaving the VU to continue on with none of its original members.

Two years later, Reed released his self-titled, first solo album on RCA records. The album was mostly made up of songs he had written for – and in some cases even performed live with – the Velvet Underground. While the release generated a lot of buzz, it turned out to be a critical and commercial flop. There are some strong songs, but even listening to it today it feels… well, lost. It doesn’t have the bite of the early VU songs like “Heroin,” nor the pop sensibilities of songs like “Sweet Jane.”  So with the album as disappointment to everyone including Reed, what to do next?

Bowie, Ronson and Reed

David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson were longtime fans of the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, so when it was suggested that they produce the next Reed album, they jumped at the chance.

Reed, for his part, was enamored with ...

continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, History of Rock and Roll, Event

Rare Performances: Talking Heads Live in 2002

Wednesday, August 29: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
David Byrne performs "Psycho Killer" with his Talking Heads bandmates in 2002

"Boy, am I honored to be mentioned in the same breath as the Talking Heads," noted 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis after taking the podium to induct the Talking Heads into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

"I remember the exact place that I was, the exact moment that it happened, that I heard the Talking Heads for the first time," recalled Kiedis. "That's an incredible indication of what a beautiful influence they would have on my life, because there's not too many things I could say that about. I was in the living room of Donde Bastone, I was 15, it was 1977, and the song that he put on was 'Psycho Killer,' and I absolutely freaked out. I made him play that song over and over and over again because it was like nothing else I'd ever heard, and it made me feel like nothing else I'd ever felt.

"Some very strange things happened to me when I heard the Talking Heads," continued Kiedis, explaining how the Talking Heads made him feel smart and want to dance. He remarked ...

continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Rare Performances

Album Notes: the Mamas and the Papas' "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears"

Friday, May 25: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Mamas and the Papas censored cover for If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

For the week of May 21, 1966, the Mamas and the Papas debut album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, peaked at Number One on the Billboard 200. The group of New York folk vagabonds whose post-beatnik image and soaring harmonies bridged folk rock and imminent psychedelia had emerged from the "New Folk" movement of the late Fifties and early Sixties, delivering a seminal debut album with an unexpectedly controversial cover. 

John Phillips had been a member of the Journeymen, a folk trio that also included Dick Weissmann and Scott McKenzie. (McKenzie would go on record a song of Phillips’, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” that became a hit during the summer of 1967.) In a similar vein, Cass Elliot had been in the Big Three, while Denny Doherty belonged to the Halifax Three. Both Elliot and Doherty came together in the Mugwumps, which also included John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, later of the Lovin’ Spoonful. Michelle Phillips was an aspiring model (born Holly Michelle Gilliam) and the wife of John Phillips.

the mamas and the papas california dreaminJohn, Michelle and Doherty performed in the New Journeymen, a temporary group put together to fulfill contractual obligations after the ...

continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Today in Rock

Today in Rock: Patti Smith is Born

Friday, December 30: 9 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Patti Smith

Born on December 30, 1946, Patti Smith grew to become a bohemian New York poet and punk rock artiste whose 1975 debut album, Horses, stood in daring, unapologetic contrast to the slick, arena-rock ready production and pretension of the era. Smith's street poetry and her group's garage-band aesthetic formed the foundation on which the later punk rock explosion was predicated. Smith was raised in southern New Jersey, employed in a factory and studied to be a teacher before making the paradigm shift to the art of writing and rock and roll. 

When she arrived in New York in 1967, she connected with fellow art-boho misfits, including photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, playwright Sam Sheppard and music scribe Lenny Kaye. She and Kaye brought music and poetry together, giving Smith's poignant perspective a soundscape to build upon. It was the seed for the Patti Smith Group, which formalized their union of poetry and rock with a nearly two-month house gig at CBGB in early 1974. Early on, Smith turned to American record producer and music industry executive Clive Davis.

"When I came to Clive, I was really awkward, arrogant, couldn't really sing. I had pretty clumsy movements," said Smith ...

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