Big City Tales

The Power of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

October 24, 2018
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With its sprawling 65,000 square-foot plaza, soaring 162-foot tower, and striking glass-enclosed double pyramid main entrance, the power of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Rock Hall) building is palpable. Add in its prime lakefront location along Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor and its photo-opp LONG LIVE ROCK anthem sign, the exterior impression is nothing short of pulsating! Rest assured, the energy continues to surge from the moment you head inside and begin exploring the Rock Hall from the ground up.

Main Galleries

Named for the Rock Hall’s founder and former chairman of Atlantic Records, the Ahmet Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall sets the stage for a truly rockin’ experience ahead. The spirit of rock and roll is alive and well as you stroll through the galleries and admire vivid imagery, colorful anecdotes and priceless memorabilia.

By the way, it should be noted here that three of the primary reasons why the Rock Hall is based in Cleveland is because of the city’s history with rock music. Firstly, a local disc jockey, Alan Freed, coined the term “rock and roll” back in the early 1950s. Secondly, the first rock concert was staged at the Cleveland Arena in 1952 as part of a live dance event called the Moondog Coronation Ball. Thirdly, “The Buzzard” radio station (WMMS) launched the careers of David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Roxy Music, Rush and many others in the 1970s and 1980s.

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The evolution of the rock genre is the focus of the Stewart Gallery: The Roots of Rock that explores the influence of blues, gospel, R&B, country, bluegrass and folk music on emerging artists in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

In the Cities and Sounds gallery, cities such as Memphis, Detroit, Liverpool, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Seattle are showcased for their contributions to the ongoing development of rock music over the decades. The exhibits feature major musical eras such as Motown, the British Invasion, Punk and Grunge; provide an overview of key dates and historical facts; and display time-period specific instruments, stage costumes, album covers, promotional materials and a host of other noteworthy artifacts.

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Fittingly, the indisputable “King of Rock and Roll” is honored in the Elvis gallery that details his full life story. Fans of the The King will appreciate the breadth of paraphernalia on display such as a custom jukebox, guitar and automobile. From his early days as an unknown artist in Memphis, to his stint in the US Army, to his Hollywood B Movie fame, to his Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite concert that aired around the world in 1973, the gallery definitely captures the highs and lows of The King’s all too short existence.

In the Legends of Rock and Roll gallery, personal items belonging to Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Steven Tyler and Aerosmith, Debbie Harry and Blondie, among other famous acts are front and center. The gallery’s purpose is to highlight everything from the visual spectacle of concerts to the behind the scenes song-writing process.

Special Exhibits

The Rock Hall is known for its care and attention to special exhibits that regularly change out such as the 50 year anniversary of Rolling Stone magazine that was the subject matter in 2017. Along with a re-creation of its physical office space in New York City, the exhibit included a collage of the magazine’s covers and snippets from famous articles.

Iconic Landmark ‘Rocks Around the Clock’

While the Rock Hall typically closes it doors at 5pm, the building lights up at night and pulses with the energy of the rock and roll rhythms that inspired I.M. Pei’s bold and eye-catching design. The internationally-acclaimed architect definitely struck the right creative chord and gifted the city of Cleveland with an iconic landmark on Rock and Roll Boulevard that visitors can enjoy as they ‘rock, rock, rock ’till broad daylight’ when the Rock Hall opens its doors again.

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