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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at sunset.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shores of Lake Eriemarker in downtown Clevelandmarker, Ohiomarker, United Statesmarker, dedicated to recording the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, and other people who have in some major way influenced the music industry, particularly in the area of rock and roll. The museum is part of the city's redeveloped North Coast Harbormarker.

Foundation and museum

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was created April 20, 1983. However, it had no home. The search committee considered several cities, including Memphismarker (home of Sun Studiosmarker and Stax Records), Cincinnatimarker (home of King Records), New York Citymarker, and Clevelandmarker. Cleveland lobbied hard to be chosen, citing that Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed is widely credited with promoting the new genre (and the term) of "rock and roll", and that Cleveland was the location of the first rock and roll concert. Civic leaders in Cleveland pledged $65 million in public money to fund the construction. A petition drive was signed by 600,000 fans favoring Cleveland over Memphis, and a USA Today poll which Cleveland won by 100,000 votes. The hall of fame board voted to build the museum in Cleveland.

Cleveland may have been chosen as the organization's site because the city offered the best financial package. As Plain Dealer music critic Michael Norman noted, "It wasn't Alan Freed. It was $65 million... Cleveland wanted it here and put up the money." Co-founder Jann Wenner later said "one of the small sad things is we didn't do it in New York in the first place," but later added "I am absolutely delighted that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cleveland."

During early discussions on where to build the Hall of Fame and Museum, the Foundation's board considered the Cuyahoga Rivermarker. Ultimately, the chosen location was in downtown Cleveland by Lake Eriemarker, just east of Cleveland Stadiummarker and the Great Lakes Science Centermarker.

At a point in the planning phase when a financing gap existed, a proposal was made for the Rock Hall to be located in the then vacant May Company Building, but it was finally decided that architect, I. M. Pei would be commissioned to design a new building. Initial CEO Dr. Larry Thompson facilitated I. M. Pei as designs for the site were made. Pei came up with the idea of a tower with a glass pyramid protruding from it. The museum tower was initially planned to stand 200 ft high, but it had to be cut down to 162 ft due to its proximity to Burke Lakefront Airportmarker. The building's base is approximately 150,000 square feet. The groundbreaking ceremony was June 7, 1993, with Pete Townshend and Chuck Berry doing the honors. The first curator of the Hall of Fame was Bruce Conforth, a former folk musician, rock musician, and artist who was also a professor of folklore and blues music. The museum opened on September 2, 1995, with the ribbon being cut by an ensemble that included Yoko Ono and Little Richard, among others.

In addition to the Hall of Fame inductees, the museum documents the entire history of rock and roll, regardless of induction status. Hall of Fame inductees are honored in a special exhibit inside the museum's spire.


There are seven levels in the building. The first through fifth levels feature many permanent and temporary exhibits documenting the history of rock and roll. Temporary exhibits display items from artists that have only been borrowed for a short period of time, such as the Warped Tour display in 2007, showcasing memorabilia from the tour's 12 years in existence. The museum has also put up numerous musical films for viewing, such as 2007's temporary exhibit running George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh. Some of the permanent exhibits include a history of audio technology, a section of mannequins donning outfits of famous performers past and present, and an area which looks at music scenes in various cities throughout different eras, including Memphis in the 50s, Detroitmarker, Liverpoolmarker and San Franciscomarker in the 60s, Los Angelesmarker in the 70s, New York Citymarker and Londonmarker in the 70s and 80s and Seattlemarker in the 90s.

The third level is where the actual Hall of Fame is located and includes a wall with all of the inductees' signatures. The seventh and final level of the building is a temporary exhibit which features a certain group or artist for a period of time. It occupies the entire floor, which is the smallest since it is at the top of the pyramid. Some of the artists featured include Elvis Presley, The Supremes, The Who, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, U2, Bob Dylan, The Clash, The Doors and Roy Orbison.
Annex in Soho in New York City
While the museum is located in Cleveland, prior to 2009 the induction ceremony was annually held in New York Citymarker (except in 1993, when the ceremony was held in Los Angeles, and in 1997, when the ceremony was held in Cleveland). This has been a source of controversy and tension between the Foundation's commitment to a yearly showcase and the Hall of Fame itself. In December 2007, it was announced that Cleveland will hold the ceremony every three years, beginning in 2009.

On December 3, 2008, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex was opened in the SoHomarker neighborhood of New York City.

Hall of Fame

A handful of artists are inducted into the Hall of Fame in an annual induction ceremony, historically held at the Waldorf-Astoriamarker Hotel in New York Citymarker. The first group of inductees, inducted on January 23, 1986, included Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Currently, groups or individuals are qualified for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Nominees should have demonstrable influence and significance within the history of rock and roll. Four categories are recognized: Performers, Non-Performers, Early Influences, and Sidemen (as of 2000). However, fans have no input concerning who is nominated or elected to the hall.

Beginning in 2009, the annual induction ceremony will move to Clevelandmarker on a rotating basis, perhaps as often as every three years.


Performers include singers, vocal groups, bands, and instrumentalists.

A nominating committee composed of music historians selects names for the Performers category, which are then voted on by roughly a thousand experts, including academics, journalists, producers, and others with music industry experience. Performers receiving the highest number of votes greater than 50% of the votes received are selected for induction; currently, five nominees make the cut each year, although that number has been higher in the past.

Early influences

Early Influences includes artists from earlier eras, primarily country, folk, and blues, whose music inspired and influenced rock and roll artists. Other Notable artists that have been inducted as Early Influences include country musician Hank Williams, blues musician Howlin' Wolf, and jazz musicians Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. After Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday in 2000, no one was inducted in this category until 2009, when rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson was selected. Unlike earlier inductees in this category, Jackson's career almost entirely took place after the traditional 1955 start of the "rock era".


This category encompasses those who primarily work behind the scenes in the music industry, including record label executives, songwriters, record producers, disc jockeys, concert promoter and music journalists. This category has had at least one inductee every year except 2007 and 2009.


The Sidemen category includes veteran session and concert players who are selected by a large committee composed primarily of producers. This category was introduced in 2000, and was dormant from 2004 through 2007. In 2008, the category was re-activated.


Letter sent to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from the Sex Pistols.
The main criticism of the Hall of Fame is that the nomination process is controlled by a few individuals who are not musicians, such as founder Jann Wenner, (who has filled the position of Managing editor for the magazine Rolling Stone), former foundation director Suzan Evans, and writer Dave Marsh, reflecting their tastes rather than the views of the rock world as a whole. A former member of the nominations board once commented that "At one point Suzan Evans lamented the choices being made because there weren't enough big names that would sell tickets to the dinner. That was quickly remedied by dropping one of the doo-wop groups being considered in favor of a 'name' artist ... I saw how certain pioneering artists of the '50s and early '60s were shunned because there needed to be more name power on the list, resulting in '70s superstars getting in before the people who made it possible for them. Some of those pioneers still aren't in today." According to Fox News, petitions with tens of thousands of signatures were also being ignored, and some groups that were signed with certain labels or companies or were affiliated with various committee members have even been put up for nomination with no discussion at all.

Another criticism is that too many artists are inducted. In fifteen years, 97 different artists have been inducted. A minimum of 50% of the vote is needed to be inducted, although the final percentages are not announced and a certain number of inductees (five in 2009) is set before the ballots are shipped. The committee usually nominates a small number of artists (twelve in 2010) and they are coming from an increasing number of different genres. Several voters, including Joel Selvin, who himself is a former member of the nominating committee, didn't submit their ballots in 2007, with the reason being that they didn't feel any of the candidates were truly worthy.

The Sex Pistols, inducted in 2006, refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum "a piss stain".


On March 14, two days after the 2007 induction ceremony, Roger Friedman of Fox News published an article claiming that The Dave Clark Five should have been the fifth inductee, as they had more votes than inductee Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The article went on to say "[Jann Wenner] used a technicality about the day votes were due in. In reality, The Dave Clark Five got six more votes than Grandmaster Flash. But he felt we couldn't go another year without a rap act."

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would later deny fixing the vote, although they did not deny that late votes were received, saying, "No. There is a format and rules and procedure. There is a specific time when the votes have to be in, and then they are counted. The bands with the top five votes got in."

The Dave Clark Five was subsequently nominated again and then inducted the following year.

25th Anniversary Concert

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a concert series over 2 days on October 29th and 30th, 2009 at Madison Square Gardenmarker in New York. The celebration included performances by U2, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Simon & Garfunkel, Metallica, Lou Reed, Ray Davies, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. The first night ran almost 6 hours with Bruce Springsteen closing the concert with special guests John Fogerty, Darlene Love, Tom Morello, Sam Moore, Jackson Browne, Peter Wolf, and Billy Joel.

See also


  1. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  2. Jan 12, 1993: Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles
  3. May 6, 1997: Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, Cleveland
  4. "Were not coming. Were not your monkey and so what?" (sic) Official announcement from the Sex Pistols regarding the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on February 24, 2006

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