Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, OH
As I was passing through Cleveland, Ohio, on my latest road trip, it gave me an excuse to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something I’ve had on my agenda for a long time. It turned out that the timing wasn’t too great on my part as several of the exhibits and interactive areas were still closed, however there were still plenty of exhibits to keep me occupied for several hours.
I have watched quite a few induction ceremonies over the years seeing some of my favourite artists/bands inducted into the Hall of Fame so was keen to see what they had to represent them in the exhibits. I soon discovered it wasn’t quite what I expected. Firstly, there are exhibits from artists that aren’t actually in the ‘Hall of Fame’ and very little or nothing representing some high profile artists you’d expect would have a significant presence.
There was a significant exhibit of the artists/bands that were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2020. Nine Inch Nails, T-Rex, Doobie Brothers, Depeche Mode, Notorious B.I.G. and Whitney Houston to name the obvious ones. As you can see below, Nine Inch Nails didn’t appear to contribute material. Whether this was by choice I’m not sure, but you have to admit, the end result was perhaps a little unconventional.
The Rolling Stones exhibit consisted of some of Mick Jagger’s more questionable outfits (well it was the 70’s) and footage from their earlier days. Opposite was another good-sized exhibit of The Beatles, with their own questionable outfits (but from the 60’s).
I was happy to see two of my favourite bands, the Small Faces and the Faces (or really one band that changed their name, lineup and notably lead singers) having a decent representation as they produced some great songs over the years. If you don’t know either band give a listen to tracks such as Itchycoo Park (Small Faces) and Ooh La La (Faces).
I learned a lot about some artists/bands that I only really knew about having heard some of their songs. For example, I was of course very familiar with Jimmy Hendrix but never knew he also played acoustic guitar. The display showed several Hendrix guitars including an acoustic. Also on display was an acoustic guitar that belonged to Robby Krieger of The Doors and the original lyric sheet from ‘Riders on the Storm’.
It was pretty cool to see on display the original hand-written lyric sheets to some of my favourite songs. I wonder if any of the songwriters thought at the time that the lines they were scribbling down on note paper would become become such well-known classic songs.
Many of the exhibits were based around the costumes the artists wore during different stages of their careers and in some cases it appeared the more flamboyant the costumes the greater chance the artist had of being on display. David Bowie of course featured as expected, however I don’t recall the sparkly Beach Boys outfit (that Carl Wilson wore) or even the outfit John Paul Jones wore during filming for Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Song Remains the Same’.
A lot of the exhibits, understandably, were based around the guitars and other instruments of the bands/artists and it was really cool to imagine that a particular sound for a band or song you love was played on that instrument. I also enjoyed some of the exhibits of my favourite bands/artists that I didn’t expect to be featured, such as Devo (Whip it) and The Raspberries. If you are not familiar with the Raspberries (although you may be familiar with then lead singer and songwriter Eric Carmen) give a listen to ‘Overnight Sensation’ which was described as featuring “exquisitely crafted melodies and achingly gorgeous harmonies”.
Last but not least as I winding up my tour of the Rock and roll Hall of Fame was a giant display of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’. To give some some perspective you can easily walk through the gaps in the wall, it’s that huge!
As I said earlier its a shame that some of the more ‘hands-on’ exhibits like garage band were still closed but there was still plenty to see and I recommend a visit if you are ever in the area. Check that the exhibits are fully open again before you go and it should be an enjoyable experience for any music fan. A ticket for the Hall of Fame cost $28 and there is a pay to park lot very close to the building.