A VISIT TO THE ROCK N’ ROLL HALL OF FAME CLEVELAND, OHIO:
For the past few years Soul Patrol has provided you all with some exclusive coverage of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.
I have written both positive and negative things about the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame during our two years of coverage of the inductions.
Over that period of time I have been asked two questions regarding why e spend so much time and effort on doing this:
1. Why do you even give a sh*t about what those racist bastards do anyhow, shouldn’t you be more focused on creating a “Hall of Fame for US and by US”?
2. Bob, Why do you write so much negative stuff about the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame? I’ll bet you have never even been there.
Well after I left Pittsburgh, I took the 2.5 hour drive to the Hall of Fame in Cleveland and here is what I found with respect to these two “frequently asked questions”.
A. The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is not a “racist institution”
1. As I have noted here in the past, over seventy percent of the inductees are Black Americans.
2. In addition, (although this is quite unscientific) my observations from walking around the museum as well as the administrative offices over the course of 2 days would lead me to believe that the majority of the employees there are also Black Americans
3. The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame has several floors of exhibition space that is subdivided up in a manner similar to the somewhat predictable (and inaccurate) way that a “rock critic” might subdivide the history of Rock n’ Roll. There are sections for Blues, Country, Rockabilly, 1950’s R&B, Sun Records, Motown Records, Haight Ashbury Sound, LA Folk Rock Sound, Non Motown Soul (Atlantic, Stax, Brunswick, James Brown, Philly International, etc), British Invasion, Punk, and the “Seattle Sound of the 90’s”.
Notable by their absence however are sections for Doo Wop, Disco and Funk. There are also several “single artist exhibitions” for artists like the Stones, Clapton, etc. However, a quick look at the floor plan reveals an amazing fact. ONE THIRD OF THE TOTAL EXHIBITION SPACE ON THE FIRST FLOOR ARE CONSUMED BY AN EXHIBITION ON THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF JIMI HENDRIX. (kinda difficult to be racist when 1/3 of your “real estate” is devoted to a Black man?)
4. The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s involvement with the local Black community in Cleveland.
B. There are many things about the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame that I discovered during my visit that will cause me to continue to criticize them as needed for example:
1. How come Smokey Robinson is in there as a solo artist and why aren’t the rest of the Miracles in there also?
2. What the hell is Rod Stewart doing in there?
3. (and many many other things that aren’t quite right)
4. The Hall of Fame clearly has a “flawed” selection process, but it isn’t racist.
5. As far as the need to “have our own”, I will say this much. As a Black American, as I walked around the museum and absorbed all of the wonderful exhibits and audio/visual information there, it made me feel proud to just look at the many accomplishments of my own people on display in such a magnificent structure.
What disgusted me was being able to look around at the thousands of other visitors and being able to count on one hand the number in attendance there who ‘looked like me.’
Certainly every member of Soul-Patrol should visit the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame if you get a chance to. Damn near everything that we discuss here on this mailing list is on display for you to see and hear.
More importantly, every Black American should visit. If you do visit, you won’t find a more exciting presentation of the recent history of your culture anywhere and yes I am just the type of “nerd” who has visited many of the African-American History Museums around the country in various cities. (and most of them don’t have any Black people visiting them either!). This is an important institution, that we have essentially built and have chosen not to reap the benefits.
“This joint really should be called the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.”
Ray was on point!
Go there (and take the kids), I guarantee you that you will walk away with “a glide in your stride and a dip in your hip” (just as I did)
Some highlights at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame
It would be impossible for me to provide an accurate written description of what a visit to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is like, so I’ll just provide some highlights. In addition to the “Rolling Stone Magazine Type Period Exhibitions” that I mentioned earlier, here are some of the more impressive things that I saw..