There was only one destination for me in Cleveland last weekend–the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A child of rock, I was intrigued to explore this fascinating building on the shores of Lake Erie.
With the triangular shape like the Louvre and the rectangular and circular sections, it was like opposing forces thrown together. A bit like the history of rock, with many types of music combined, perhaps? I hoped to take many more photos to include here, but cameras were not allowed in most areas of the building.
It was stimulation overload, as we spent almost 3 hours wandering through the exhibits that choronicled the evolution of rock music. First were the roots of rock, which included gospel, blues, country and folk music playing homage to many performers who laid the tracks for the rock singers. I was surprised how many of the singers–some forgotten until now–were black (and some women!) in the early 1900’s who spent their lives in both the south and Chicago. Gave me a better appreciation for the blues of my hometown.
We listened for a long time to 500 songs from influential albums, and I laughed at the video compilations of preachers, politicians and tv announcers disparaging the influence of rock. Where was the Steve Dahl disco demolition? The videos were all from the mid-90’s; they could probably use some updating.
Each exhibit showed an era of rock, be it an wall or an entire room encased with memorabelia–clothing, instruments, actual song lyrics, invoices from different eras, TV screens playing music, fabulous photography, automobiles, awards, and several short films.
I grew up an avid Elvis fan, so I really enjoyed the large space dedicated to the King–with accounting sheets from his concerts, hotel bills, one of his cars, clothing through the eras, and some personal notes. And I learned to appreciate Janis Joplin (loved her car!) and Jimmy Hendrix (his costmes and kitsch drawings drew me in) more. Though I have never really liked their music–though can appreciate their artistry and influence. Pieces of Otis Redding’s crashed plane gave me a chill.
We wrapped up the lower level looking at costumes from some of the inductees–Madonna, U2, Bowie, Michael Jackson, ZZ Top among others. My main complaint of the main level would be that it was a bit dark. They also had pillars with white writing throughout, and it was hard to read the words at the bottom of the pillars.
We walked a little more quickly through the other floors, which included an exhibit on the creation of the electric guitar, paying homage to Les Paul; the architects of rock and roll; a collection of early sound equipment; and a special exhibit on making the film Help!. We did pause a while at the Pink Floyd The Wall.
Several months ago we saw an exhibit on album art (4/15 post), and having recently read Eric Clapton’s biography (4/30 post), I feel I can much better discuss the music I have listened to and has influenced me throughout my life. Of course, after we left the museum we discussed who wasn’t represented that we thought were missing–KISS (for my husband), Elton John among others. But all in all, it was a pretty fascinating place…if you like rock and roll. I think my kids could have been bored and rushed me though; when they are older, they will appreciate it more. It would be amazing to someday see the inductees perform there some day, too. C