Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 42

It's Only Rock & Roll But I Like It

Up at 8:30, breakfast at 9:00, on the road at 9:45. We drove into the city and went to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum.

You may be wondering why the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame is Cleveland? Well, apparently a Cleveland DJ named Alan Freed coined the term on his radio program "Moon Dog House Rock and Roll Party" and it stuck. That and the city paid a lot of money to have it built there.

To describe it, I would have to say that I don't even know where to begin. Six floors, four special exhibits, one cafe and only six hours to see it all!?

We started at the bottom. There were lots of pictures and placards with information about the early influences on Rock & Roll. People whose music I know well and people who I never heard of. There was also an entire wall dedicated to James Brown with some fantastic black and white photos of him through the years.

There was a huge section called Rock & Roll All Over The World. It documented rock & roll music through the years with lots of information and a ridiculous amount of memorabilia. Too much in fact. I was in overload the entire time. Trying to consume information about rock and country during the 40s and 50s in Memphis, soul through the 60s in Detroit, Mersey beat in Liverpool and psychedelic rock in San Francisco. Then there was soft rock during the 70s in Los Angeles, punk in New York and London. Finally there was grunge in Seattle during the 90s. It all blew me away. The volume and depth of information was just unbelievable.

With a dizzy head, I moved into another section that contained clothing from just about any band or singer you could think of - all original items. There was Wacko Jackos sequined glove and ripped jacket from the Thriller video. ZZ Top's furry drum kit. Numerous Bowie get-ups, lots of Madonna's wardrobe through the years and what seemed like Mick Jagger's entire closet.

There was also some great stuff from the Who, Queen and U2 including an original T-shirt made by Larry in arts class in secondary school. But the coolest thing in this section was the 1933 Ford with a Corvette engine that was built for ZZ Top and made famous during their Eliminator days.

There was also a great little display on Joy Division / New Order, a cool corner with Elvis stuff and all of the original Polaroids that we used to create a collage for the Talking Heads album cover for 'More Songs About Buildings And Food'.

Feeling Hank, I made my way around the last corner and took in as much as I could of the Beach Boys exhibit, documenting their early years. There were lots of hand written notes, various bits from their school years and some brilliant photos of all the lads. The story about Brian Wilson's slide into mental health problems was also documented. He had a break down on a flight to a gig in 1964 and stopped touring with the band. He spent most of his time in the studio as a producer afterwards and by most accounts drove everyone mad. He also tried (and failed) to outdo the Beatles. They released Revolver, so he released Pet Sounds. Then they released Sgt Peppers and when he couldn't figure out how to better it, he locked himself in his room. For a few years.

After lunch, we watched a film about all of the Hall of Fame inductees since 1986.

Then we took in special exhibits about Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', The Clash and The Doors. They were all phenomenal and contained mountains of information about each of the bands. There were original posters, drawings, set lists, hand written lyrics, clothing and of course guitars.

Paul Simonon's smashed bass guitar was there. There is a picture of him smashing the guitar - you have probably seen it since it is the cover of the album 'London Calling'. It happened in The Palladium in 1979. Apparently Paul was annoyed because the gig wasn't going well. The sound was crap and no one was allowed to get up and dance. So, he got annoyed. And started smashing his guitar. By his own admission, he always liked to destroy guitars - take out his frustration on things that he really loved. Pennie Smith was at the gig photographing the band and was offstage when Paul lost it. She says that pieces of the guitar were flying past here, so she started moving backwards while shooting film. The picture of him is blurry and despite her best attempt to get the band to not use it, they did. It is one of the most iconic pictures in all of rock history.

After overloading our heads with music information, we had a quick sniff in the shop downstairs and took a couple of snaps in the lobby.

Parked outside the museum was one of Johnny Cash's tour buses.

We were right next to the Lake Eerie, so we had a stroll down the path to have a quick look.

We then attempted to find a record shop called My Mind's Eye which was recommended to us by someone in the museum. We couldn't find it and it's just as well. We found out later that it specialises in metal. Heavy metal, death metal, nu metal and every other kind of metal known to man.

In an effort to find a bite to eat and a place to watch the baseball All-Star game, we ended up in the Old Angle pub. It's in Ohio City, a little neighborhood in the west of Cleveland. The food was good, the service was good and the couple of Old Speckled Hen's I drank weren't too bad either.

We hung on to see the start of the game and then drove back to the hotel to watch the rest of it and relax for the evening.

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