Yesterday I went to the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame & Museum in Cleveland. If you have not gone I strongly recommend it. Perhaps if your favorite team is playing the Cavaliers, Indians or Browns one day/weekend build a trip around that, but the museum was awesome. It is also geared as an all day experience (I spent about 5 hours there, which is a record for me at a non-school trip museum visit). It was also relatively empty, which made for a pleasant visit (but it was weird watching all of the various movies and exhibits in empty theaters, except for the 45 minute recap montage of all the inductees – that was too amazing to feel weird in solitude).
And there is a special Bruce Springsteen exhibit on the top floor featuring tons of memorabilia. Most interesting, at least from my perspective, was seeing items from the late 60s when he was promoting shows with handmade signs saying “Come see The Bruce Springsteen Band – $3.” With today’s technology, any as-hole (this as-hole included) can make impressive looking promo materials, but it must be especially gratifying for Springsteen to be able to see exactly how far he has come in every way.
I also had a black light with me to scan the exhibit for any body fluids of my housemates from Williams College. Nothing was found, but the exhibit is supposed to be there through 2010. Now I will give you a detailed recap of my favorite things in the museum, in case you never make it to Cleveland.
Best Hall of Fame Classes (in my opinion)
1) Gold Medal – 1989 – Rolling Stones, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Phil Spector (for producer and street cred). This must have been an absolutely incredible induction ceremony.
2) Silver Medal – 1988 – The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, Bob Dylan, Les Paul. Many would claim that this has to be number one, but I like the Stones way more than the Beatles, The Temptations win the Motown battle with The Supremes. I do like the Beach Boys a lot, but they are cancelled out by Dylan’s mumbling. I did learn a lot about Les Paul at the Museum – they have a great exhibit dedicated to his evolution towards the electric guitar. It was just great to learn about the guy who invented my Guitar Hero guitar.
3) Bronze Medal – 2001 – Michael Jackson, Queen, Aerosmith, Paul Simon. MJ is like the LeBron James of the Hall of Fame classes – he could not have the supporting casts of the earlier classes (though Queen and Aerosmith are definitely better than the musical equivalents of Mo Williams and Anderson Verajao), but he alone makes this one of the greats.
4) To Be Determined – 2012. This is when Guns N Roses is eligible and if the Hall of Fame can get them to reunite then all bets are off. (I was happy to see Welcome to the Jungle as one of the 500 songs that defined Rock according to the Hall of Fame).
5) Honorable Mention – 1999 – Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. No need to argue the better 70s/80s/90s singer-song writer when they are both on the bill.
Most Awkward Hall Of Fame Moments
1) 1992 induction of Ike and Tina Turner. Nothing else needs to be said.
2) 2004 Induction of George Harrison as a solo artist. Not sure he merited it, but it was the Hall of Fame’s way of telling Ringo Starr, “We really think you are the useless member of the Beatles, which is why the rest of them have been inducted twice.”
3) There is an exhibit of a photographer who has captured major musical moments at Madison Square Garden. The last two photos in the exhibit are from a 2008 Holiday Concert. The top photo is of Rihanna. The bottom photo is of Chris Brown. Did the Hall of Fame not hear about them or did they figure leave it – perhaps we’ll induct them together in 20 years.
4) 1998 Induction of the Mamas and the Papas. Did nobody think it weird when one of the inductees was grinding his daughter on the dance floor?
5) 1997 Induction of the Bee Gees. Have you ever looked at the 4 Gibb brothers? Clearly Mom fu-ked someone else when she had the ugly twins. Andy, who died young, looked like a more handsome Heath Ledger and Barry Gibb looked like him. The twins looked like anorexic Paul Giamattis. But I will cut them slack since one of them passed on and their music was excellent.
Members That I think Are Overrated
1) Elvis Costello – don’t get him, don’t care for him
2) The Police – Every Breath You Take – great. The rest of their songs – repetitive and annoying.
Other Thoughts/Observations from the Hall of Fame
- Based on sheer volume how is Phil Collins not in the Hall of Fame – he seems to meet their criteria. Then I saw Genesis on the 2010 list of inductees.
- Frank Zappa – has a musician ever looked more like a porn star?
- No one has ever rocked a beard better than Marvin Gaye. Except maybe for early 90s Tom Cruise.
- I used to not get why David Bowie got so much respect in the music world (you mean the guy from Labyrinth that slept with Mick Jagger?). I wonder no longer – that guy’s catalogue is pretty sick. And so diverse. He’s like a whiter, more feminine Prince, but 10-15 years earlier.
- Tom Petty has the deepest speaking voice and the whiniest singing voice.
- Even though I usually roll my eyes at “spiritual” people (they generally believe enough to make themselves seem worldly, but really just hate judgment), Jim Morrison seemed pretty cool, at least the way they write him up. Val Kilmer was a good choice to play him, but if Will Ferrell got in shape when he was younger and wore his Chazz Michael Michaels hair from Blades of Glory I think he could have pulled it off.
- Good God a lot of rock stars died early. How are Motley Crue and the Rolling Stones still alive given all the drug and plane crash deaths that seem to strike musicians.
- I don’t want to meet James Hetfield of Metallica. TO me he seems like he’s 7’0″ tall and 350 lbs. He looks like a monster bad ass on stage and it would be disappointing to stand next to him and dwarf him.
- Steve Winwood was a member of Traffic, who got inducted in 2004. Between his solo work, The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic this guy is like the Robert Horry of music. Good work Steve.
Ok, that is it for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. Now tonight it’s off to see LeBron in person (19 rows from the court). And then it’s a good thing shows start up again at the Cleveland Improv tomorrow night because I think I will be out of activities to do in Cleveland.