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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

I WANNA ROCK...At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
Excited to Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Several years ago, I was taking a road trip to visit my sister and her family in Chicago and we drove through Ohio. As we were passing Cleveland, I saw signs for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and made a mental note that I wanted to visit some day. Well time passed and I never found myself anywhere near Cleveland, so I had yet to check the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame off my bucket list. When planning our recent cross-country trek to move Madison out West, I jumped at the opportunity to stop in Cleveland after our first day of driving. As luck would have it, we were leaving on a Thursday and Thursdays are the one day of the week the Hall of Fame stays open until 9! What are the odds? I took it as a sign and booked tickets for us to go! We got into Cleveland around 3:30. Just enough time to freshen up and make our 5 pm entrance time. That is Rock Star planning if I do say so myself!

I thoroughly enjoyed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in Cleveland. As an aside, Cleveland was a really cool city that Madison and I both enjoyed. So even if you don't have a specific reason to go, it is certainly worth a visit to check it out AND go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Entrance:

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
Insta-worthy Front Entrance of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located right in downtown Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie. The entrance is marked by life size red letters saying "Long Live Rock" in front of glass pyramid buildings making for a great Insta-worthy photo op. You can sit in the big "O" or stand among the letters if you like, but you will probably need to go early or late in order to avoid other tourists in your photo because everyone is trying to capture that shot!

Once you enter into the building, you will see a message "Welcome to the House that Rock Built" letting you know you are entering onto sacred ground.

You will also be greeted with a life-size car hanging from the ceiling covered in glass like a disco ball, as well as a giant size hot dog hanging over the escalator. The car is a Trabant used in U2's Zoo TV tour. The giant hot dog was used by the band Phish to fly across Boston Garden on December 31, 1994. These props were donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where they now soar over visitors' heads.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also has the original awning, graffitied walls and other important pieces of CBGB, the iconic East Village music club in NYC. Catch a glimpse in the video above or take a closer look in the photo below. These original artifacts were donated to the Hall of Fame shortly after the iconic punk rock club closed down in 2008. I didn't know that CBGB stands for "Country Bluegrass and Blues" which is the kind of music the original owner, Hilly Kristal, intended to have. However, the club became famous for launching the careers of several punk rock and new wave bands such as the Ramones, Blondie, B-52s, and the Talking Heads. From the 1980's onward, CBGB was primarily a hardcore punk venue. Apparently OMFUG was added later and stands for "Other Music for Uplifting Gourmandizers" (with gourmandized meaning a voracious this case of good music). CBGB has played a significant role in the history of rock and roll and so it is really cool to see the original CBGB items as an exhibit.

CBGB Awning Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
Original CBGB Awning

Main Gallery at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Visitors enter the building on Level 1 where they take tickets and hungry customers can grab a quick snack or bite to eat at the café. An escalator will take visitors down to Level 0 (under the Trabant and the giant hot dog and past the CBGB awning). The main gallery of the Hall of Fame museum is located on Level 0. It includes exhibits on how rock and roll music developed from roots of gospel, blues, rhythm & blues, folk, country and bluegrass music. It also features exhibits on cities that majorly impacted rock and roll such as Detroit, Memphis, London, Liverpool, San Francisco, Los Angles, New York and Seattle. I particularly enjoyed exhibits about the push back against rock and roll music and the various protests that occurred across the United States trying to prevent radio stations from playing rock and roll music. "Moral panic" overtook the country with some having issue with Elvis' gyrating pelvis and the "un-Christian" elements of rock and roll music. This ultimately lead to attempts to censor music by monitoring lyrics and the movement in the1990's to label music that was deemed to have suggestive or explicit words. There were also dedicated exhibits on influential artists such as the Beatles, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, among others. When we visited there was a special exhibit about the illegal filming of a performance from the Beatle's last album on a rooftop in London.

There were also displays of numerous guitars used by music legends over the years and handwritten notes from the creation of classic rock songs.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
Classic guitars from iconic rock stars

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
See hand written lyrics from classic rock songs-artistry in progress!

The Power of Rock Experience:

We had to cut our time in the main Gallery short so we could zip up to the third floor to catch a showing of The Power of Rock Experience. This Experience is a short multi-sensory experience where flashing lights, rumbling seats and loud speakers make you feel like you are at a concert. The film is one of Jonathan Demme's final works and features concert highlights from some of the Hall of Fame inductees. It was such a cool experience and brought back memories of some amazing concerts I have seen over the years. As you exit the theater, there are several rock and roll relics displayed which add to the Experience. I couldn't take any pictures or videos inside the Experience, but I grabbed a shot of the entrance for prosperity!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
Entrance to the Power of Rock Experience

Hall of Fame Inductees:

As you come out of the Power of Rock Experience, you are on the third floor at the Hall of Fame section. There is an interactive section where you can cast your vote for future Hall of Fame Inductees. There are also displays showing who was inducted each year and interactive videos where you can watch your favorite inducted artist receiving the honor.

Pink Floyd's The Wall Replica

When you go up the stairs to the fourth floor, you are met with a HUGE replica of Pink Floyd's The Wall designed to mirror their famous Berlin performance on July 21, 1990. It was both mesmerizing and creepy at the same time!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Interesting perspective of a rock star

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
A section of The Wall replica

By this time, we were getting hungry and it was getting late so it was time to go. I didn't get to see and experience everything at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so there are definitely additional things to see and do that I haven't even touched on. I hope this blog has inspired you to go check it out yourself and you can be surprised by any new temporary exhibits as well as those things I didn't get a chance to see myself. Please let me know if you do!

After we left we got recommendations to go to The Flats to eat. The Flats is a popular area filled with restaurants and bars that is probably really happening on the weekends. We were there at an off time so it wasn't crowded, but we had a great meal and played some trivia at Punch Bowl Social. If you visit Cleveland, check it out (or any of the other cool restaurants in The Flats).


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland Ohio
Peace Out Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!



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