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The Genius of Michael Jackson

Monday, April 18: 11:05 a.m.
Posted by Steve Knopper

Michael Jackson Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Billie Jean album cover art

I was born just a hair too late for the Jackson 5, so the first time I listened to Michael Jackson was probably around 1974, when he and Roberta Flack sang that charming and funny duet "When We Grow Up" in the cartoonish kids' bedroom in "Free to Be . . . You and Me." I was in high school in the 80s, and watched MTV all the time, so "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" were inescapable. Regrettably, back then, I was kind of a classic rock snob, so I paid most attention to "We Are the World," because Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan were on it. In the early 90s, when I became a music writer, I made up for it and fell hard for Off the Wall and Thriller.

Then when my daughter, Rose, was 4 or 5, she fell in love with "Goin' Back to Indiana," and we had to listen to it 400 times a day. That eventually brought us to "Billie Jean," which we watched on YouTube together, over and over. It's just mesmerizing.

How does Michael make his body do those things? How does he get his leg so high? How does he look like he ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Library and Archives, Exhibit, Event

Elle King Visits Rock Hall to see Dress on Display

Tuesday, February 2: 11 a.m.
Posted by Carl Harp

Elle King Right Here Right Now Dress

Grammy-nominated artist Elle King visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Friday, January 29, 2016, prior to a performance at Cleveland’s Masonic Auditorium. The “Ex’s & Oh’s” singer made the special tour stop to see her dress, now on display inside the Hall of Fame’s “Right Here, Right Now” exhibit, and hang out with some fans who came out for the occasion. 

The red kimono-style dress was worn by King during a Sonic Sessions concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on June 5, 2015 – check out the full concert photo gallery!

“I’m really overwhelmed right now,” said King in the Rock Hall exhibit. “I’ve come here since I was a little girl, and I played here over the summer [in 2015], and me and my band got super choked up. And just walking around and seeing how the Rock Hall keeps rock ‘n’ roll alive, to see my own dress is kind of mind-blowing, and I’m super choked up over it. It’s really cool.”

“Right Here, Right Now” takes a look at the evolution of rock and roll and its impact on the next generation of artists. Visitors ...


continue Categories: Exhibit

Finding John Lennon's "first real major piece of work"

Thursday, December 3: 4:23 p.m.
Posted by Ivan Sheehan

The Beatles and John Lennon In My Life lyrics Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland

John Lennon called "In My Life" his "first real major piece of work." 

The song started as a long poem about the bus ride from his Aunt Mimi's house in suburban Liverpool, where he grew up, to the dockside area of the Mersey River. The poem listed Lennon's beloved childhood haunts, including one locale familiar to Beatles fans: Penny Lane.

"The words were almost irrelevant. 'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning every place I could remember," said Lennon in a 1980 interview. "I wrote it all down and it was ridiculous... it was the most boring sort of 'What I Did On My Holiday's Bus Trip' song, and it wasn't working at all. But then I laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember. Paul helped with the middle-eight."

And though Lennon variously referred to "In My Life" as his, the elegiac reverie on life and love, a poignant reflection on what matters most, the essential fragile translucence of things caught in a Beatle melody was so beautiful that neither John nor Paul would ever agree on ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, The Beatles, History of Rock and Roll

Remembering Hall of Fame Inductee Allen Toussaint

Thursday, November 12: 3:34 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Allen Toussaint inducted into Hall of Fame in 1998 by Robbie Robertson

Allen Toussaint was one of New Orleans' great musical giants. “He was a great and tremendously versatile musician, a real gentleman and one of the nicest people I’ve ever known,” said Hall of Fame Inductee Randy Newman. 

He was a gifted arranger, deft producer, engaging performer and masterful record executive. But perhaps most remarkably, he was among the rare songwriters whose musical vocabulary – though singularly recognizable – translated to myriad styles and elevated the artistry of musicians around the world.

"New Orleans and the world has lost a true musical genius," wrote Trombone Shorty on his Facebook wall. "Allen will always be one of the founding fathers of what New Orleans sounds like; he was a tremendous friend and mentor to me and other musicians in New Orleans. Everything I do is influenced by my musical upbringing in New Orleans – and Allen was a huge part of that. I thank him so much for it, and for all that he did."

His piano on Fats Domino records inspired the likes of Elton John. He produced records for Bonnie Raitt. He toured with Little Feat. He arranged the memorable horns for the Band's Last Waltz. He worked with Otis Redding ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Exclusive Interviews, Event

Six Questions with Vinyl Theatre's Nick Cesarz

Tuesday, July 21: 11:25 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Vinyl Theatre Drummer Nick Cesarz interview and photo Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

For over three years, the Milwaukee quartet Vinyl Theatre have been growing a loyal fan base with frenetic live shows driven by the group's imminently danceable rock. With clear reverence for post-punk sounds of the 80s and earning comparisons to such contemporaries as the Killers and Death Cab for Cutie, Vinyl Theatre released their debut full-length Electrogram on Fueled by Raman in 2014.

The Rock Hall caught up with Vinyl Theatre drummer Nick Cesarz on the eve of his group's live Sonic Sessions concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland on July 21, 2014.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Can you describe the moment you knew you wanted to make music or play in a band?


Nick Cesarz: I was very young, maybe 8, and I saw the Blue Man Group for the first time. I even got to meet them. After seeing the show, I wanted to try playing drums. When I reached the 5th grade, my name was picked of a hat to play percussion in the school band. I had some good luck that week!

RRHOF: What was the first album you bought with your own money?

NC: Led Zeppelin ...


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

The Ultimate 4th of July Playlist (and Most Misinterpreted Songs)

Thursday, July 2: 3:21 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Fireworks

With the patriotic pageantry, fireworks, barbecues and neighborhood gatherings that come with the 4th of July just around the corner, Rock Hall staff crafted the ultimate playlist as the soundtrack to all things Americana and celebrations of summertime fun.

The 50-song list covers a lot of musical territory, from 50s to today, blues, pop, punk, R&B, jazz and some classic rockers, of course. Inductees feature prominently – Alice Cooper, Sly and the Family Stone, Young Rascals, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the Ramones, among many others – but so do other artists who've made their mark with sunny revelations: Kool and the Gang, Chicago, the Undertones, the Surfaris, Lovin' Spoonful, Billy Idol, Afrojack and, yes, Katy Perry.
 
Get the Rock Hall's Ultimate 4th of July playlist via Spotify.
 
In the meantime, here are  three tracks that are so routinely misinterpreted – and we included some deliberately in our list! – we just had to give the backstory.
 

Bruce Springsteen – "Born in the USA"

Arguably the most misappropriated song in rock and roll history, "Born in the USA" has been the anthemic backdrop to countless episodes of fist-pumping demonstrations. Anti-Muslim protestors chanted the chorus while picketing the site ...


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

What Beach Boys Music is Brian Wilson Most Proud Of?

Thursday, June 25: 10:15 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

The Beach Boys Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees California Girls 60s

This month, the harrowing story of the deeply troubled life and wildly creative musical mind of Brian Wilson comes to the silver screen, in Love & Mercy. An ambitious undertaking, the film is directed by Bill Pohlad who tidily splits the entire narrative arc into two distinct epochs: the musically fertile period in the 60s that produced Pet Sounds (with Wilson played by Paul Dano) and the fraught psychosis of the 80s-era rebound (with John Cusack as Wilson).

It's a fascinating glimpse into a well-documented life, and the troubled man who gave rise to among the most memorable and celebrated rock and roll of the past 50 years. So musically speaking, what is Brian Wilson most proud of?

The leader of the Boys has cited the opening bars of "California Girls" as his proudest achievement: "['California Girls'] is something I’m very proud of in a sense because it represents the Beach Boys' really greatest record production we’ve ever made."

Released the summer of 1965, the track's intro is stately, almost lethargic, as it blends muted horns and keyboards before slipping into perky-pop song mode. It was also reportedly conceived during among Wilson's first acid trips.

Though ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, History of Rock and Roll, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, Exclusive Interviews

Noel Gallagher Interview: What is Rock, Being a Solo Artist, Singing and Neil Young

Wednesday, June 10: 6:29 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Noel Gallagher's role in defining British rock and roll in the 90s and beyond cannot be overstated. Along with younger brother and lead singer Liam, he led Oasis as the group's principle songwriter, lead guitarist and sometimes vocalist, delivering a succession of recordings that deeply resonated with fans around the globe, inspired a legion of similarly styled Britpop acts and turned the working-class lads from Manchester into bona fide rockstars. The group called it quits in 2009, with Noel reemerging in 2011 as Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. His self-titled debut topped the UK charts, and the March 2015 release of Chasing Yesterday sees Noel expanding on his rock repertoire yet still delivering the indelible melodies for which he's well-known.

Noel Gallagher interview Cleveland, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Oasis

We caught up with Noel during a tour stop in Cleveland, Ohio, where he toured the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: You've gone on record with a lot of thoughts on the state of rock and roll. What's Noel Gallagher's definition of rock and roll?

Noel Gallagher: To me,  it’s not a sound –  it’s not an idea. It’s a spirit to ...


continue Categories: History of Rock and Roll, Bob Dylan, Rock's Greatest Guitar Players, Hall of Fame, Madonna, Exclusive Interviews
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