Several guests observing the artifacts of the Cities and Sounds exhibit, including the Memphis and Detroit sections

Cities and Sounds

Motown in Detroit, New York's punk scene, Seattle grunge bands--learn all about the cities and movements that changed music.


This exhibit includes two sections, one dealing with specific time periods in different cities. The other explores rock & roll's early years, soul and heavy metal music. The exhibits examine the impact that the music made on the evolution of rock and roll. In addition to artifacts, some of the sections contain a short video with historic clips and interviews. The films run about five or six minutes each. The following cities and genres are represented:

Memphis - Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On: 1948 - 1959

This section highlights Memphis’ contributions to the early years of rock and roll. It includes the history of Sun Records and deals with such artists as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Billy Lee Riley and others.

Detroit - Dancin’ in the Street: 1962 - 1971

This portion focuses on Detroit during the Motown era. Among those represented in the exhibit are Berry Gordy Jr., Smokey Robinson, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations and Jr. Walker.

London and Liverpool - Ferry Cross the Mersey: 1963 - 1966

This section concentrates on the British Invasion, from early skiffle to Beatlemania and beyond. Featured artists include the Beatles, Yardbirds, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Zombies and others.

San Francisco - Somebody to Love: 1965 - 1969

This exhibit focuses on San Francisco during the psychedelic era. It includes artifacts from the key musicians of the era - the Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Janis Joplin and the Jefferson Airplane - as well as other important cultural icons, including Bill Graham and Ralph J. Gleason.

Los Angeles - I Love LA: 1965 - 1979

This area draws attention to the era of the singer/songwriter and country-rock. The troubadour scene, older folk scene and the new electric folk rock are highlighted. Featured artists include the Eagles, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

London/New York/Los Angeles - Blank Generation: 1975 - 1980

This section focuses on the development of punk music in London, New York and Los Angeles. Some of the artists featured include the Ramones, Patti Smith, the Clash, the Germs and the Sex Pistols.

Seattle - Smells Like Teen Spirit: 1985 - 1995

This exhibit spotlights the grunge era. The various artifacts define grunge not only as a genre and sound, but also as a scene and fashion statement. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains and other key artists of the era are all represented.

Rave On - Rock and Roll's Early Years

Rave On pays tribute to the pioneers who created the sound and style of rock and roll, including Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, the Coasters, Buddy Holly, the Drifters, songwriters and producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, among others (Elvis Presley is not represented in this exhibit as he is the subject of an individual performer focus unit).

This exhibit includes original costumes, vintage posters, guitars and other instruments, lyric manuscripts, sheet music and other documents.

Respect - The Sound of Soul

Soul music was the predominant black music style of the Sixties. Smooth and sensual, passionate and heartfelt, soul included elements of the blues, rhythm & blues, doo-wop and, most notably, gospel. It can be traced back to the Fifties and such artists as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and James Brown, each of whom incorporated various aspects of gospel into rhythm & blues. But it took a confluence of factors – the civil rights movement, black pride and the work of some enlightened record executives like Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler – for soul music to come into its own.

This exhibit presents dozens of artifacts chronicling the lives and careers of soul music’s most influential performers, including Brown, Redding, Sam & Dave, Al Green, the Isley Brothers, the O’Jays, Curtis Mayfield, Booker T. and the MGs and, of course, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

Bang Your Head - Heavy Metal

If it's too loud, you're too old. That’s the message that’s always been at the root of heavy metal. With its ear-shattering volume, distorted guitars and screeching vocals, this highly amplified, blues-based guitar rock came of age – and commercial dominance – during the early Seventies, particularly with such British bands as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. But heavy metal’s roots can be traced back to the Sixties. In America, such groups as Iron Butterfly and Blue Cheer scored hits (“In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida,” “Summertime Blues”) that predicted heavy metal’s assault, while in England, the Who, the Kinks and the Yardbirds and power trios like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience helped create the sound and stance that would come to dominate the genre.