The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Greatly Appreciated

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum  is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States.  It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and others who have, in some major way, influenced the music industry.  It is part of the city’s redeveloped North Coast Harbor.  (More from Wikipedia)
When the site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was announced in 1983 as being Cleveland, the main response from most people was bewilderment.  The city was trying to shake its image as the epitome of Rust Belt crud (that will happen to a place when its river catches fire), and this helped give the city a much needed makeover.  The main reason given for the choice was that Cleveland disk jockey Alan Freed heavily promoted the new genre of music in the early 1950’s and is one of several who claimed to have come up with the term “rock and roll”.  Few if any have cited Cleveland’s highly competitive local music scene during the 1960’s and 1970’s, with as much ferment as any city in the nation; and that would have given the choice more credibility than a half-forgotten DJ.
(February 2010)
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This was the first post where I tried to talk about more than just the band itself.  Many people might have wondered why Cleveland of all places was chosen to be the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so I presented my own theory:  that it was (or at least should have been) due to the largely forgotten musical scene there in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  More to the point, rock bands like the Raspberriesthe Outsiders and the James Gang are certainly well known enough; but most people don’t know that Cleveland was their hometown.  Another long-time fave of mine is the Cleveland punk band the Dead Boys and its frontman Stiv Bators, though they were only indirectly pertinent to this discussion. 
(February 2012)
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Dion DiMucci was one of the leading rock and rollers of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and his work still sounds great to me to this day.   
After a long career in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and a period of Christian contemporary recordings, Dion was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and released a great comeback album called Yo Frankie in 1989.  Lou Reed’s speech at the induction ceremony is also included on the sleeve. 
(September 2012)
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With all of their animosity as background, it is small wonder, then, that John Fogerty refused to perform with his surviving former bandmates, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford when Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, though he did perform several CCR songs with a different backing band that night.  Cook and Clifford did start a band in 1995 called Creedence Clearwater Revisited that still tours widely. 
(January 2013)
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Amazingly, there seems to be a consensus that Link Wray will never make the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.  To me, that is more of a commentary on the Hall of Fame than on Wray – that they are only making the obvious choices and not any that would ever raise any eyebrows. 

You can talk about your pioneers of rock and roll – Chuck BerryLittle RichardElvis PresleyJames Brown, just to name a few – and you can even bring up your British Invasion greats – the Beatlesthe Rolling Stonesthe Animalsthe Yardbirds, the Kinks, just to name another few.  All of them are already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and deservedly so.  However, you can play a lot of more modern rock records all day long and not really discern more than a hint of their direct influence; no question it’s in the DNA, but actual Elvis Presley-style vocals or Chuck Berry guitar licks or James Brown wails are elusive. 


That is not so with Link Wray:  His influence is front and center on a good 50% of the records that I play, because he is credited with introducing the “power chord” on electric guitar to rock and roll, a technique whose effect is often enhanced by distortion. 

(February 2013)
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On September 18, 1964 and again on September 21the Soul Agents backed blues legend Little Walter, a fearsome blues harmonica (“blues harp”) player who was once a part of Muddy Waters’ band.  Harmonica is mostly absent from rock music these days, but nearly every 1960’s band had someone who could handle the harmonica.  Playing some of his early sides convinced me that Little Walter is likely the reason for this.  Little Walter is the first and only musician to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame solely as a harmonica player.  


(May 2014)


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Hal Blaine and another drummer Earl Palmer were the first Sidemen inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000; the entire Wrecking Crew was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007


(February 2015)


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Green Day was the lead punk revival band of the early 1990’s and actually have had much greater success than any of the original punk rock bands, and most of the new wave bands as well. Their first major-label release (and third album), Dookie (1994) was an immediate worldwide smash, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 200 Albums chart, and sold well throughout the 1990’s, with total sales of 20 million albums. Their 2004 rock-opera album American Idiot was the basis of a hit Broadway show a few years later. In all, Green Day has sold more than 85 million albums and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, their first year of eligibility. 
(June 2017)
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The Cleveland music scene has long fascinated me; rock bands from the future home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included the Choirthe Outsidersthe James Gang, and the punk rock band the Dead Boys.  I had picked up a more comprehensive album of songs by the Choir, called Choir Practice, and also an album of material by the Starfires, the predecessor band to the Outsiders who still had that name when they were trying to line up the release of their major hit song “Time Won’t Let Me”.  More recently, many years after locating their other three albums, I finally found a copy of Album #2, considered by most rock critics to be the best album by the Outsiders.
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Sky Saxon is the former frontman for the Seeds, best known for their hit song “Pushin’ Too Hard”; while not among the biggest garage rock hit songs, peaking only at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, it is likely one of the best known.  Pushin’ Too Hard was included on the Nuggets compilation album and the Nuggets Box Set, and it is featured in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s exhibit showcasing “The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”.
(December 2017)
Last edited: March 22, 2021