Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Admission to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is approx. $35/person (less for kids).

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland:  The Rock Hall houses interactive exhibits, films, videos, and many priceless artifacts used by many artists featured in the Hall of Fame.  Not only does the museum have many 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 many 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 into the Hall of Fame and, therefore, have their own exhibits at the museum.

Excerpt from a 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 isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact birthplace of rock and roll, but Cleveland was where the real commitment began.  Every act of consequence debuted 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 would destroy our hearing and corrupt 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. Rock music has branched off in several directions from its inception, but I 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 how it’s been for over 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 1995. Since then, many millions of 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 music’s impact 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 North Coast Harbor, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame houses more than 55,000 square feet of exhibition space. All 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, hundreds of 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 ’50s and ’60s to those defining the modern sound, demonstrating a miscellany of talent and the rich diversity of the music itself.

The Museum continually offers fresh new experiences from the Rock and Roll past through changing exhibits. 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 captured the images of all the early performers and fans—teenaged guys in suits and ties and girls in short cotton dresses and lacquered beehives. Another interesting item 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 plenty of talk emanates from three theaters that take visitors on a cinematic journey through Rock and Roll history, plus the live concerts 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 & Roll, you’ve got to go.

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

Share this with: