For my most recent vacation I took the wife for a tropical paradise getaway to...CLEVELAND! While this city's reputation has only mildly improved since its "Mistake On The Lake" days in the 70's, it actually is a great little city with some great destinations. Of course, like any city it still has its bad parts. But as long as you keep your car doors locked and arrange for that hooker through the hotel concierge you should be okay. The main destination these days is the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, located on the scenic shores of Lake Erie.
The "Rock Hall" is a sprawling complex including a Louvre-like glass pyramid containing multiple levels of multimedia presentations of Inductees, artifacts, interactive audio and video, movie theaters, and the obligatory overpriced cafe and gift shop. I could have spent hours meticulously pouring over the plethora of Rock history but we were only in Cleveland for one night and the wife wanted to get shit faced and have hotel sex. The real bummer was not being able to take pictures. Every time I tried to sneak one a staff member wearing their signifying faux letter jacket with distinctive "flair" would appear out of nowhere and give me the evil eye. Despite their penchant for enforcing the rules, the staff were otherwise well informed and very helpful. They were also some of the most colossal music nerds I have ever encountered... so we got along great. Here are some of the more notable pieces(or what I remember) from the Rock Hall.
The first thing we encountered was Johnny Cash's Tour Bus, "Unit One". Cash's "Home" while touring the last two decades of his life. The Kitchen cubby table was made from wood taken from Cash's childhood home in Tennessee and his wife June's compartment was upholstered with sky blue velor. Her door also had an antique brass plaque that said "Royal Box", stolen by Johnny from a theater in England. June was apparently so thrilled to be sitting in the Queen's seats that Johnny stole the plaque for his "Queenie". This was the first instance to bring me near tears during my visit. Hey whatever - it's Johnny Cash!
In the Lobby they had a couple of the cars from U2's "Zoo TV" tour hanging from the ceiling along with Phish's giant Hot Dog with headlights they rode to the stage for the last show at the old Boston Garden.
The awning from CBGB's was hanging over the rear exit. It's amazing the thing is mostly still in one piece. It would have been even better if they had moved one of the bathrooms from the legendary club to the Hall but I'm sure those were destroyed for health reasons.
The whole first level of the hall is dedicated to the people who blazed the trail and created "Rock And Roll". Many blues and country artists are recognized as well as people who mixed those forms to create Rockabilly and Soul music. Seeing Muddy Waters acoustic and electric guitars was thrilling. the sounds he invented on those instruments are still being copied by millions even today. Also seeing Leadbelly's acoustic guitar and trying to imagine the places it's been and the standards he created on it. Howling Wolf's Money Case was on display next to his guitar. The Wolf didn't trust banks. He kept all his money and valuables in this old battered suitcase which he brought with him everywhere he went, including on stage during performances, so he could keep an eye on it while he was playing.
They had a montage of early Anti-Rock propaganda films from the 50's on a continuous loop in the small exhibit dedicated to the subject. Various priests, elected officials, civic leaders, bad actors and other assholes deriding the new art form for being "Immoral", "Pornographic", "Communist", "Evil", "the cause of the spread of various venereal diseases". Basically all the things that make Rock And Roll fun.
My second and third instance of nearly busting out crying came seeing one of Dimebag Darrel's guitars in the disappointingly small Heavy Metal section, and then when I spotted Randy Rhodes polka-dotted Flying-V along with the stage outfit he wore on the last tour before his death. Both are featured on the cover of the Ozzy Osbourne "Tribute" album. Whatever, I was highly emotional after seeing an old TV appearance of Michael Jackson singing "Ben" when he was 10. It's just so sad what he did to his face after that. I'm having trouble just typing this.
I also came close to seeing Duane Allman's 1959 Les Paul which he used for the recording of "Layla" with Derek And The Dominoes and "Live At The Fillmore East". He also carved "Duane" in giant letters on the back with and old fret. Just to make sure the stoned roadies knew whose it was.
The small collection of Who artifacts was cool especially the leather fringe outfit Roger Daltry wore for "The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus". Quite possibly their finest recorded performance. I also wondered how many times Keith Moon puked on his platform shoes, also on display.
It was also cool to see the huge collection of handwritten lyrics they had spread out through the Hall. They had the bar napkin that Doc Pomus scribbled the first few lyrics on for "Save The Last Dance For Me". Jimi Hendrix's excellent penmanship was showcased on the sheet of Hotel stationary which had the lyrics for "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)". And the surprisingly neat writing of Dee Dee Ramone on the back of a piece of cardboard for "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment".
Speaking of the Ramones, it was cool to see one of Johnny's original Mosrite guitars and one of Joey's signature leather jackets.
Pink Floyd was featured in a small exhibit dedicated to The Wall with the original marionette school teacher and the Hotel room set with TV, couch, and neon sign where Roger Waters would sing "One Of My Turns". Eyebrows not included.
The Featured Exhibit was "Women Who Rock" and contained mostly outfits and costumes various pioneering ladies wore during their careers. I particularly liked Heart's Anne and Nancy Wilson's outfits from the "Dream Boat Annie" album cover and Joan Jett's outfit from the cover of the "I Love Rock -N- Roll" album. I always say - I would make love to only one man, and that man is Joan Jett.
The Beatles Contract Of Dissolution was interesting to me. It was about 2 inches thick and signed by all four members. I'm not a Beatles hater but I found this more interesting than the guitars John and Paul wrote "In My Life" with. The Beatles not only influenced Rock And Roll Music but also the Business of Rock. Whether you accept it or not, Rock is a business. You can participate in it or not. The Beatles were pioneers in making and breaking the band as a company.
There were other interesting contracts like John Lee Hookers receipt of payment from Chess records minus the booze and suits. The Rolling Stones "Food Memo" which was mostly liquor and a modest amount I must say by the Stone's legendary myth. 2 Bottles of Jack, 2 Bottles of Scotch, a bottle each of vodka, gin, and rum. A couple cases of red and white wine and a case of Guinness. There was the Sub Pop recording contract handwritten(in pencil I think) on notebook paper signing up a local Seattle band called Soundgarden.
Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones Jacket he wore in "The Song Remains The Same" and one of his beautiful custom basses he used on the 77 US tour. Other than a Jimmy Page Les Paul Guitar there wasn't much Zeppelin stuff.
The Hot Rod from all of the ZZ Top "Eliminator" videos. First thing I thought when I saw it was, "You can't fit three hot chicks and a geeky guy in that."
Keith Richard's love faxes to Marianne Faithful telling her she was the "greatest" and that he will "always love her" and asking where his socks were from their one tryst. As Keith tells it in his book "Life" he went to sleep with Marianne after hearing her boyfriend Mick Jagger was having an affair with his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. After getting it on Mick comes home early and Keith has to jump out of the bedroom window without his socks. apparently it was a running joke between the two for many years.
A few rejection letters U2 received in the late 70's from record labels saying things like, "not quite what we're looking for" and "Be assured, we listened to your tape but can't help you right now."
Over all it was a good experience and well worth the trip to Cleveland. If you do go set aside a whole day to see everything. To me, it did feel a little off, having everything neatly organized and clean for tourists to ogle at then buy t-shirts as they exited through the gift shop. Rock is supposed to be dirty and be able to birth great beauty through chaos. But that's my Rock N Roll. Yours maybe cleaner or dirtier. I like to think of the moments; the moment you first saw this band or heard that album, or the moment that band was brilliant or became a shitty mess on stage. You may have seen a band whose show was the greatest Rock n Roll moment of your life and then they broke up two weeks later and will never be in the Rock Hall of Fame.
I realized that things like the Rock And Roll Hall Of fame were necessary when I heard two girls who looked to be in their 20's talking behind me in the Blues section That had a big picture off B.B. King with a giant label saying so. The exchange went something like this: "Hey, there's that dude we saw on Youtube. What's his name....Buddy King?" I guess they get points for getting it half right and watching either King or Buddy Guy on Youtube.
In the spirit of Rock N Roll and all that is right with Cleveland, here's a picture of an enormous hot dog to finish this travelogue out classy-like:
Learn all about the Ramones in the book;
“ON THE ROAD WITH THE RAMONES”.
Throughout the remarkable twenty-two-year career of the Ramones the seminal punk rock band, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers and Recording Academy Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners Monte A. Melnick saw it all. He was the band’s tour manager from their 1974 CBGB debut to their final show in 1996. Now, in this NEW UPDATED EDITION he tells his story. Full of insider perspectives and exclusive interviews and packed with over 250 personal color photos and images; this is a must-have for all fans of the Ramones.
I have! That is an excellent book! Great pictures too! I love how CJ was totally fucked up on Angel Dust when he got the call. Great stuff and highly recommended.
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Notes From The Hall Of Rock – WAAF.com (blog) | Hotel Safes Now
[...] Notes From The Hall Of RockWAAF.com (blog)But as long as you keep your car doors locked and arrange for that hooker through the hotel concierge you should be ok. The main destination these days is the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, located on the scenic shores of Lake Eire. … [...]
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