Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame: Everything you need to know before you go.

Greetings! I’m back from Ohio! Although I am still patiently awaiting the arrival of the second “Star Wars” trilogy (apparently Netflix can’t find Episode One anywhere!), I found something to occupy my time until then. I’ve started a list in my head of suggestions to give the lovely people at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Now, I know what you’re thinking, so don’t. I thoroughly enjoyed the Rock Hall. However, and I don’t mean to be rude, but there were some major issues with it. If you keep up with this sort of stuff like I do then you know that the Rock Hall has a pretty bad reputation. One, because the board that votes on who gets inducted every year is full of crusty old men who only listen to The Beatles and The Beach Boys (don’t even start Steph). Two, because most artists think it is a complete joke because of number one. And to be honest, it probably is. But then again, what hall of fame isn’t a complete joke? Who really cares anyway? Ok, I care. I can’t help it. Maybe I’m still holding on to the small hope that someday they will induct bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard because they were culturally significant at one point in time to a lot of people. The world of rock is a giant one and doesn’t just include Beatles fans. Now I’ve said too much. Like I said, I enjoyed the Rock Hall, but if you’re not a super fan like me and don’t have a printed list of Rock Hall inductees in your room (no judging), then you must read my list of things to know before you go:

1. You’re never going to be able to go just once. You’re wondering what that means I’m sure. You can never visit the Rock Hall once in your lifetime if you’re going to get the full effect of it. Why you ask? There are several exhibits and attractions that are there all of the time, but most of the exhibits are changed out throughout the year. You’re never going to be able to see everything because it doesn’t all fit in the building. And I assume they have a lot of items from rock history. So much that when something isn’t on display it is kept in a library, that I believe is open to the public, but is like down the road from the actual Rock Hall! Now your asking what the point of my rant is. The point is that while I visited this past week there were significant artists that are inductees that were not mentioned at all or very little. And trust me, I spent all day there. I wasn’t going to miss anything. Some extremely significant artists that I never saw much of included Led Zeppelin, Elton John, CCR, Prince, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Halen, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd (aside from “The Wall” exhibit that you could of missed if you weren’t paying attention), Queen, The Beastie Boys, Guns N’ Roses, and anything from the 2013 inductees.


2. Too much is too much. This brings me to my next point. Maybe there would be enough room in the weird triangle building if they did away with some of the things that are focused on WAY too much. For example, the first exhibit you’re lead through shows the roots of where rock came from, which I was very appreciative that they did. It’s important to know where it all started. However, and maybe I just feel this way because I visited Memphis last summer and went to Sun Studios and stood in the exact spot Elvis recorded his first single and cried with my mother, but I think there was almost too much of the roots. I was like “OK I get it. Now, where is the note from the Sex Pistols? (which was something I never found).” If they did away with some of that stuff so it wasn’t so repetitive then maybe there could be a little corner somewhere where they could pay attention to Led freakin’ Zeppelin (I’m a little upset about that one). I think the Elvis display was PERFECT after being to Graceland. It was the right size to pay respect to The King. However, the Jimi Hendrix section dragged on forever. Personally, I don’t think he’s that important. Sorry people. The Stones and ugh yes The Beatles should have their permanent exhibits, but Hendrix? I’m not so sure about that. 


3. Completely forgetting things. There was this really cool exhibit that showcased different areas that affected rock (Liverpool, New York, Detroit, Memphis, California). They totally didn’t mention anything about the South. Um excuse me? The Allmans? Lynyrd Skynyrd? CCR? Let’s mention the Grateful Dead every chance we get, but let’s not mention anything about southern rock?  I was offended and so was my father (after all, the only thing he listens to is Skynyrd). I had to spend the rest of the trip listening to him rant about how upset Ronnie would be, but I, of course, have to agree.


4. Inductees that may confuse you. This list includes Michael Jackson, Madonna, and ABBA. All wonderful artists. All affected music in a major way. So, to the board of trustees I ask the question if they can be in the Rock Hall why can’t KISS? I mean KISS is an awful band in every way, but they are culturally significant to a lot of people, which means they are culturally significant to rock. Correct?


5. The kick-ass Rap section. Where music is headed whether I like it or not. It was great to read about Tupac and Biggie and how they are also important to rock. The hardest thing for me to walk past and not feel complete anger was the rap section, though. They had a display that featured Jay-Z’s outfit from something, but there was no mention of the Beastie Boys (who are inductees). Knife. Through. The. Heart.


6. The Rolling Stone wall. It is of course because Jann gives so much to the Rock Hall that Rolling Stone magazine (dream job) has it’s own exhibit. It was well done, though. I hope it reminds visitors that Rolling Stone is about music and sometimes to get attention they like to write about controversial things to make people’s blood boil. You know what I’m talking about.


7. The random amount of random sneaky things. It’s funny how whoever sets up these displays and decides what goes in and what can apparently be left out also conveniently puts in things from other artist that are too young to be inductees yet. There was a shocking amount of Kid Rock stuff as well as a ton from Eminem (both deserve induction when the time comes). The most obvious was, of course, the amount of sneaky shout outs they had to Nirvana. I wouldn’t be surprised if people thought Nirvana was in the hall of fame. Now you’re asking “Wait! They’re not?!” No they are not because to qualify to be inducted your first album has to be 25 years old. They will be first round inductees in a couple years when this becomes true.


8. There was plenty to geek out over. The original CBGB’s sign (I about died), Alex Van Halen’s drum set, Elvis’ white jump suit, Stevie Nicks’ costumes, Axl Roses’ suspenders (I stared at those things for a good 10 minutes), one of Steven Tyler’s decked out mic stands, M.J.’s glove, Pete Townshend guitars (eeeeee), the piano from Sun Studios, Johnny Cash’s tour bus, the list goes on. There was even a small display for one of my heroes, rock critic Jane Scott.


9. The big exhibit. One of the most important things you need to know before you go to the Rock Hall is that there is a big exhibit that usually lasts for a year and then sometimes travels to other museums that occupies the top smaller floors of the building (remember this thing is shaped like a triangle). Right now it is honoring 50 years of the Rolling Stones. It was without a doubt the coolest part of the visit. One, because my love for the Stones trumps anger I have for any missing Elton John and Queen displays and instantly puts me in a good mood. And two, because staring at how tiny one of Mick’s shirts is for 15 minutes is truly one of the most twilight-zoney things a person can experience. Everything about the Rolling Stones is rock music. They are perfection. And if there is one thing I got out of this trip to Ohio it’s that there are some shocking similarities between Mick Jagger and Harry Styles. I’m being completely serious. It frightens me too.


10. The actual hall of fame. If the Stones special exhibit wasn’t the coolest part, then the actual hall of fame was. Most hall of fames I’ve been to in my lifetime show the inductees by making creepy busts of them. The rock hall shows a video of everyone that has ever been inducted, which you can sit and watch for hours if you really wanted to (I assume the people doing this when I was there don’t have a handy little lists printed out in their rooms). Around the theater where this is going on, however, is a black wall that is lit up where signatures from the artists who have been inducted rest. It is super eerie, so it’s super awesome. One of the best parts is that some artists who have died still have signatures there because the Rock Hall copied them from somewhere. It was also unique to see that some bands included signatures from all stages of lineup changes, while others only did the original band members. I’m not sure if this is the Rock Hall’s choice or the band’s. I also liked that even though Axl and the Sex Pistols declined the Hall of Fame, their signatures where still on the wall with everyone else’s. It amazes me how rock can bring things together like that.


So, please keep these things in mind if you ever go to visit the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. It is a great place and I appreciate everything it tries to do for rock history, but if you don’t know a lot about it like I do, I don’t want you to get confused. Just because you don’t see someone mentioned it doesn’t mean that they aren’t inducted. And if you get a nice list of inductees while you’re there and notice one of your favorite artists isn’t in, don’t get upset. Know that someday they may be. After all, I believe that if an artist is culturally significant to someone then they shaped rock and therefore deserve to be in the hall of fame. Fans are the real judges of what makes an artist great. Don’t forget that. Since my “Star Wars” project is on hold I’m going to start trying to figure out how to get on the board of trustees at the Rock Hall. I would love to have that job someday.


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