The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


The Architects of Rock and Roll featuring Les Paul, Alan Freed and Sam Phillips


The Architects of Rock and Roll featuring Les Paul, Alan Freed and Sam Phillips

This area on the Museum’s second floor highlights the work and influence of three key inductees: Sam Phillips, Les Paul and Alan Freed. It includes the following exhibits:

Memphis Recording Service - Great Balls of Fire

This exhibit is a re-creation of the original Sun Studio in Memphis, founded by Sam Phillips. It includes most of the original equipment from the legendary recording studio where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and others made their first recordings. It also includes Lewis’ piano. Sam Phillips was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

The New Sound: Les Paul and the Electric Guitar

This exhibit features numerous artifacts related to Les Paul’s life and career. Among the key items are the very first guitar he owned as a child, his first attempt to make an electric solid-body guitar out of a wood plank, the “Clunker” (which he used on his most famous recordings) and a very early model Gibson Les Paul. The exhibit also includes artifacts from his childhood home (a record player, radio, etc.), as well as other inventions and innovations. In addition, a vintage TV shows clips from The Les Paul & Mary Ford at Home show, which was a long-running television series that aired nationally from their living room five nights a week from 1953 - 1960. There are also two interactive kiosks on which visitors can access an oral history with Les. Finally, several other key Les Paul guitars, played by such artists as Duane Allman, Pete Townshend, Slash and John Fogerty are on display. Les Paul was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

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The Big Beat: Alan Freed

This exhibit features numerous photos, posters and other documents that tell the story of DJ Alan Freed’s career. Particular emphasis is placed on his years in Cleveland, where he began playing rhythm & blues music on a white radio station and where he became the first person to call a new form of music “rock and roll.” In addition, a documentary film features interviews and rare footage documenting Freed’s career. Alan Freed was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. For more information, please visit www.alanfreed.com.


Exhibit Details