The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Cleveland’s rich music history highlights the spirit of rock and roll

CLEVELAND (September 19, 2008) – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is pleased to announce the opening of Cleveland Rocks: The Birthplace of Rock and Roll, a new exhibit featuring the photography of George Shuba. The exhibition, organized by Jon Jicha, will open on Friday, October 10 in the Ahmet M. Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall.

On Wednesday, October 22 at 7 p.m. in the 4th Floor Theater as a part of the Rock and Roll Night School series, Shuba and Jicha will discuss Shuba’s photographs. This event is free. Please email or call (216) 515-8426 to RSVP. A book signing will follow this event.

In the 1950s and ’60s, Cleveland, Ohio, was a hotbed for rock and roll. Many acts made their U.S. debuts in Cleveland, appeared on live TV, or performed in a venue few stars would dare to try today: high school auditoriums. George Shuba, the “Grandfather of Rock and Roll Photography,” was a ubiquitous figure on the area music scene.

“Growing up in Cleveland gave me incredible opportunity to experience the very best in music and the arts,” wrote Shuba in his book, Cleveland Rocks: The Birthplace of Rock and Roll. “I remember being inspired by the concerts, exhibitions, and hundreds of other educational experiences. This exposure formed my foundation as an artist.”

Shuba got his big break in music photography when he accepted an assignment from WHK radio to capture the arrival of the Beatles at the airport in September 1964. From there he went on to the Upbeat Show, a syndicated weekly television show in Cleveland that featured performances of the hottest rock and pop acts of the day At the same time, Shuba worked for an additional two radio stations: WIXY and WKYC as well as numerous record labels around the country. For the next 40 years, his passion for photographing the Cleveland rock and roll scene was proven time and time again through his work.

Cleveland Rocks exhibition focuses on the years 1964-70. Shuba continued to photograph rock and roll stars until the late 1970s, when the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Jackie Wilson, and the Doors sent local teens into joyful hysterics. While the subjects of Shuba’s luminous silver gelatin prints are ostensibly the musicians, it is the faces around them that often stand out: happy teenaged boys in suits and ties, girls with short cotton dresses and stiffly-sprayed beehives, lines of wary, tough-looking Cleveland policemen prepared to force back the crowds.

“George Shuba’s photographs tell the story of a time when rock and roll was still in its formative stages, a more innocent time,” said Jim Henke, the Rock Hall’s Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs. “These photos capture the magic of that period.”

Highlights from nearly 50 silver gelatin prints in the exhibition include:

·Otis Redding and Mitch Ryder performing on the Upbeat show in 1967, Redding’s last performance
·Smokey Robinson at John Carroll University
·Sly and the Family Stone’s performance on the Upbeat show
·The Beatles at Public Auditorium, the band’s shortest show to date
·Jim Morrison at Public Auditorium in 1968
·Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel on the Upbeat show, their first television performance
·Jimi Hendrix performing at Music Hall to a crowd of screaming fans
·Aretha Franklin live at Cleveland Arena
·The Rolling Stones performing at Public Auditorium
·The Who at Music Hall, throwing instruments into the crowd after a show

It’s without a doubt that this exhibition is more than a glimpse into the pop and rock music scene in Midwestern city: it encapsulates an era. 

The exhibits organizer, Jon Jicha, has received national and international acclaim for work as a designer and artist and has been featured in major publications and exhibitions. In addition he’s curated a number of significant exhibitions for museums and galleries throughout the United States.  He is currently Professor of Art at Western Carolina University.

Cleveland Rocks is open until January 4, 2009.  For more information on upcoming and current exhibits at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, visit

About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is the nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music. It carries out this mission both through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives as well as its educational programs.

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  On Wednesdays the Museum is open until 9 p.m. Museum admission is $22 for adults, $17 for seniors (60+), $13 for children (9-12) and children under 8 and Museum members are free. When you become a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the world of rock and roll becomes yours to explore. Call 216.515.1939 for information on becoming a member. For general inquiries, please call 216.781.ROCK.