Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum

Admission to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland is $20 for adults, $14 for seniors, $11 for children, ages 8 and under are free.

  • Open: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (Wednesdays open till 9 p.m. and from Memorial Day to Labor Day Saturdays are open till 9 p.m. as well.)
  • Location: (Map It) One Key Plaza, 751 Erieside Avenue ● Cleveland, OH 44114
  • Phone: 216-781-ROCK
  • Web: http://www.rockhall.com/

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland:  The Rock Hall houses a number of interactive exhibits, films, videos, and many priceless artifacts used by many of the artists featured in the Hall of Fame.  Not only does the museum have a number of permanent exhibits, but also each year it houses a variety of temporary ones that will sometimes be so large they take up the top two levels of the building.  The museum offers a number of services to the public including concerts, lectures, film series, and teacher education.  The main attraction of the museum, however, is the large number of artists that have been inducted to the Hall of Fame and therefore have their own exhibits at the museum.

Excerpt from past edition of OhioTraveler

If you try to name anything that has had more influence on our culture than the music of the last fifty years you’ll have to think long and hard—and you may still come up with a blank. That’s because it was never a mere evolution. We’re talking revolution—rock and roll, baby—the sound that changed everything. Cynics said it wouldn’t last, but generations later, devotees have manifested their passion with a $92 million, 150,000 square-foot shrine to honor every performer, songwriter, producer, and disc jockey who contributed to this phenomenon of the music world.

And why Cleveland? It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact birthplace of rock and roll, but Cleveland was where the real commitment began.  Every act of consequence made its debut in Cleveland, sometimes on TV, but often in ordinary high school auditoriums. Cleveland was the Mecca—where the new sound gained traction—where rock and roll took on the fuel that blasted it into the stratosphere.

Those of us who were around in the beginning didn’t realize the significance of what we were hearing on Cleveland stations. We sang, danced, and listened to the disc jockeys while the fuddy-duddies said it was only a fad, that it would destroy our hearing, that it was corrupting the youth of America. They didn’t know either that we were at ground zero of a movement that soon swept the country—and then the world. From its inception, rock music has branched off in several directions, but I have to agree with the way Billy Joel summed it up: “Everybody’s talking bout the new sound. Funny, but it’s still Rock and Roll to me.”  That’s the way it’s been for more than five decades and it has never gotten old.

The Hall of Fame Foundation, a nonprofit organization, selected Cleveland as the site in 1986, after being formed three years earlier. Groundbreaking wasn’t until 1993, and the grand opening was in September of 1995. Since that time 7 million visitors have passed under the dual-triangular-shaped glass “tent” that forms the entry façade to a 65,000 square-foot plaza. From the beginning the structure and the exhibits were intended to be of a caliber commensurate to the impact the music has had on society. Architect I. M. Pei, one of the world’s most renowned, said that in designing the building he wanted it to “echo the energy of Rock and Roll.”

Located in downtown’s North Coast Harbor, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame houses more than 55,000 square-feet of exhibition space. All of your old favorites are there, but not all the current artists. Eligibility requires twenty-five years to pass from the time of their first recording. Due to the Rocker lifestyle this means that more than a few are inducted posthumously—but then, what is rock and roll without its excesses.

To date over 225 artists as well as members from the non-performer and early influence categories have been inducted into this temple of Rock greats. They represent careers beginning in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s to those defining the modern sound, demonstrating a miscellany of talent as well as the rich diversity of the music itself.

For example, 2009 inductees include Little Anthony & The Imperials from the early days, heavy metal band Metallica, and Wanda Jackson of rockabilly fame.

The sidemen category includes keyboard player “Spooner” Oldham, best known for his work with Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, along with J.D. Fontana and Bill Black who were drummer and bass player respectively, for Elvis Presley.

Through changing exhibits, the Museum continually offers fresh new experiences from the Rock and Roll past. There are thousands of instruments, costumes, and personal effects such as John Lennon’s passport and green card, and Buddy Holly’s high school diploma. A favorite of sentimentalists is the photo display of George Shuba known as the “Grandfather of Rock and Roll photography.” He not only captured the images of all the early performers but fans as well—teenaged guys in suits and ties, and girls in short cotton dresses and lacquered beehives. Another of the more interesting is Janis Joplin’s Porsche. A few years ago a major car magazine persuaded curators to let them test-drive it around the streets of Cleveland. The little two-seater—heavily abused like everything at the hands of Janis—barely made it back with help.  If only cars could talk.

But there is plenty of talk emanating from three theaters that take visitors on a cinematic journey through Rock and Roll history, plus the live concerts that are scattered throughout the year. Anchoring more than fifty exhibits this year is MOTOWN: The Sound of Young America Turns 50.

Like the music, the displays give a fast-paced trip, chronicling Rock and Roll from one-hit wonders to legendary inductees, from its roots in gospel, country and blues to important music scenes such as Memphis, Detroit and San Francisco. You’re even reminded of political protests against the music and the interplay between fashion and rock. For young, old, or in- between: If you love Rock and Roll you’ve got to go.

The Rock and roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located at 11 Rock and Roll Boulevard in Cleveland. To plan your visit around special activities, call 216-781-ROCK or 888-764-ROCK or go to www.rockhall.com. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (open until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays). From Memorial Day to Labor Day the museum is also open until 9 p.m. on Saturdays. Adult admission is $22. A Greater Cleveland –area ID gets you in for $18. Seniors pay $17; children (9-12) runs $13, and kids less than 8 get in free.

By Robert Carpenter
Robert Carpenter was born and raised in the New Philadelphia, Ohio area.