I feel the need once again to explain the relationship
between the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame headquartered in New York and the
Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland. The New York board that
chooses the inductees has nothing to do with the Cleveland museum. The
museum has no input into the induction process. This information was told
to me directly by the former chairman of the museum himself. In fact, he
had some disparaging words for the NY board. So, once again, do not judge
the museum by the induction process, flawed as it often appears to be.
With that out of the way, let me talk about the museum
in Cleveland. They are obliged to highlight the inductees once they receive
word of who is being added and they do that.
But that is a small portion of the actual museum displays.
Quite simply, the amount of memorabilia, music and information the museum
in Cleveland presents is simply incredible. They are not tied to merely
celebrating those inducted and, instead, present a thorough and detailed
history of rock 'n' roll music's evolution from its earliest roots up to
current times and include the many offshoots of rock 'n' roll that evolved
over the decades. As one of our tour participants astutely noted, the museum
does an excellent job of casting a wide net in presenting the various strands
of rock 'n' roll.
Our tour group spent 7 hours the first day, from opening
to closing, checking out all the displays and exhibits. Sure, you can dash
through the place, quickly covering the 6 floors of amazing stuff to see
and experience, but you'll miss the full experience. There are dozens and
dozens of display cases chockful of memorabilia and information organized
under a specific theme as well as numerous movies and television clips
to see that illuminate the story of rock 'n' roll and its roots. Beyond
those there are three feature movies to see in theatres that are extremely
well-done, the first being highlights of some 38 years of induction ceremonies,
with plenty of humourous moments. There is a film of performance clips
and interviews from 50 years of Dick Clark's American Bandstand that is
an absolute delight to watch. I came away with a whole new appreciation
for Dick Clark after watching him interview a wide range of music personalities.
The third is a documentary on the roots and impact of Elvis Presley.
There is an additional movie that features the entire
Beatles January 1970 rooftop perfromance so close that you want to reach
out and touch each Beatle.
We reserved the second day for seeing exhibits we might
have missed on the first day (and in my case, there were still a couple
of displays I missed checking out the day before) and time for the gigantic
gift shop (you need plenty of time for all the merch they offer).
Added to all this are the half-dozen intercative kiosks
that allow you to listen to the artists who influenced the early roots
of rock 'n' roll, the 500 greatest rock 'n' roll songs of all time (subjective,
of course), One Hit Wonders by alphabetical order, television screens located
throughout the exhibit that present information such as the country, blues
and jazz music influences on rock 'n' roll and protests against rock 'n'
roll music in the 1950s and 1980s (Tipper Gore and warning labels).
There are display cases highlighting artifacts from a
variety of rock 'n' roll music genres such as blues, rockabilly, soul,
R 'n' B, British Invasion, punk, New Wave, Metal, psychedelic, Rap, Country
rock as well as display cases that feature music memorabilia from a number
of key cities. And there are dozens and dozens of vintage and historically-important
music instruments throughout the 6 floors. And don't forget all the cool
clothes/costumes of a wide range of music stars and influential movers
And as if that wasn't enough, they also have a couple
of exhibits that allow you to play along with tracks (guitars, bass, keys
and drums are offered) as well as to jam. You might have caught the videos
of me jamming there.
I am only scratching the surface for what you can expect
to see, do and experience at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.
If you are an obsessive rock 'n' roll nut like me or even have just a mild
interest, you don't want to miss the Rock Hall experience. No, I'm not
shilling for my trips through Heartland Travel. Go on your own. If a trip
to the Rock Hall is on your bucket list, don't wait too long. You will
not be disappointed, I promise you.