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A Salute to Etta James

Friday, January 20: 12:05 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Etta James

Etta James was a pioneer. Through a career that spanned more than six decades, James' raw, unharnessed voice crossed genres, with Fifties hits such as "The Wallflower" and "Good Rockin' Daddy" cementing her role in the genesis of rock and roll alongside Chuck Berry, Ray Charles and Little Richard, and her soulful pop and blues explorations of the Sixties ranking with the works of Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. She continued to make her mark through 2011, with a string of award-winning, critically acclaimed releases that showcased her unique style.

James was born Jamesette Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938. Although brought up in the church singing in the gospel choir, she was drawn to rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, and by her mid-teens had formed a vocal trio named the Creolettes that worked up an answer song to Hank Ballard’s “Work With Me Annie” entitled “Roll With Me Henry.” The trio caught the attention of bandleader Johnny Otis, who arranged for the group to record “Roll With Me Henry” (retitled as “The Wallflower”) for Modern Records. Released with the group renamed the Peaches, "The Wallflower" topped the R&B chart for four weeks in 1955 ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "The Sounds Of Silence"

Wednesday, January 4: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
"The Sounds Of Silence" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

On the week of January 1, 1966, Simon and Garfunkel started a weeklong run at Number One on the Billboard charts with "The Sounds Of Silence." They were knocked out of that spot on January 8 by the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out," but returned to the Number One slot for one more week on January 22. 

Simon and Garfunkel started as Tom and Jerry, Everly Brothers wannabees from Queens, New York. They had a minor 1957 hit with "Hey, Schoolgirl" (Number 49 on Billboard charts), and seemed destined for footnote status in the saga of rock and roll's golden age. After years apart, they resurfaced under their real names as topical folk singers. In the fall of 1964, Simon and Garfunkel released an acoustic album called Wednesday Morning 3 A.M., which included an arrangement of "The Sounds of Silence" that only included vocals and acoustic guitar.

With the folk revival all but over, the record was universally ignored and the duo again split. Folk rock hit a year later, and Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.'s producer Tom Wilson (concurrently helping Bob Dylan "go electric") overdubbed a rock backing track on "The Sounds of Silence ...


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10 Essential Ozzy Osbourne Songs

Saturday, December 3: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Ozzy Osbourne / photo by Andrew King

Born in Birmingham, England, on December 3, 1948, John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne started his carreer as a musician in the late 60s, as he, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward banded together, seeking to escape the trappings of factory life in their shared hometown. The foursome began to take shape as a blues band – influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Cream – calling themselves Earth Blues Company (later shortened to Earth). Osbourne channeled his love of soul music (particularly Sam and Dave) to his duties as frontman, but the group took a tectonic shift after Osbourne penned a song about Butler's encounter with a sinister spectre, calling the song "Black Sabbath." The band eventually took Black Sabbath as their name – and the title of their 1970 debut album. The group would go on to release such heavy metal classics as Paranoid, Master of Reality, Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, effectively defining the heavy metal genre and making Osbourne the voice of it. Osbourne's delivery was melodic and well-pitched, and he never resorted to the sort of histrionic screaming that became a hallmark of metal’s lesser lights.

Osbourne took his heavy metal charge ...


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