The Mecca for rock and rollers, on the shores of Lake Erie.


It’s been 17 years since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors on the shores of Lake Erie, but there are still those who question its location.

Whether you think Cleveland is the Mistake by the Lake or if you love it like Drew Carey, you have to look past that and enjoy the Hall of Fame for what it is – a Mecca for rock and rollers.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1995. The first class was inducted in 1986.

This past weekend I took advantage of a work trip to Dayton and added a couple of days on the end of my stay. Since I was only three hours away from the Hall of Fame, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

I first visited this I.M. Pei-designed building in November 2000 when I lived in Dayton. As I rounded the bend on the highway nearly 12 years ago and saw it the first time, I was awestruck – photos do not do it justice. You really must see this in person, so put this on your bucket list.

I visited the Hall of Fame three more times before I moved from Ohio in 2003, so I was really looking forward to last week’s visit. I’m happy to report I got that same awestruck feeling when the building came into view. I couldn’t stop smiling as I approached the glass and steel structure – what a gorgeous piece of architecture!

When I visited the Hall of Fame on April 13, they were getting ready for their gala
that evening and the induction ceremony April 14.

Johnny Cash's tour bus

And say what you will about the Hall of Fame’s induction progress. Sure, it can be political and yes, maybe your favorite band hasn’t been considered yet. But considering the first class of inductees in 1986 included such luminaries as Robert Johnson, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and Buddy Holly … well, the powers that be DO know a thing or two about music.

The main exhibit hall on the lower level went through a major reorganization since I was last there. The displays are in a much more organized arrangement, and the flow makes more sense. They still have the couch from Jimi Hendrix’s apartment, but the One Hit Wonders display is gone. The Elvis exhibit got some major revamping and they’ve paid a lot more attention to the roots of rock and roll.

The sign from Max Yasgur's farm, the site of Woodstock.

And even though I’m not a huge Grateful Dead fan, it was pretty cool seeing their exhibit, “The Long, Strange Trip,” the day after it opened. Bob Weir doesn’t seem to ever age.

I’ve been a member of the Hall of Fame for 12 of its 17 years. I love getting the cool T-shirts every year and even though I can’t make any of the events, it’s good to read about the wide scope of their programs in their email updates.

Joan Jett's first car, a 1983 XJ-S H.E. The plaque reads: "This was Joan Jett's first car. She purchased it before she had a driver's license and drove it off the lot with only
a learner's permit. She was recording at Kingdom Sound where I Love Rock 'n Roll
was recorded, the day she took possession of the car. Between recording sessions
she took her new car for a joy ride with teenaged actor Matt Dillon."

Photography is only allowed in the main lobby and downstairs outside of the main exhibit hall. It was torture walking around looking at things, thinking "Oh, this will
be a cool shot," and then realizing that image would only be in my head.

I hope another nine years don’t pass before I make it up there again. But in the meantime, it’s great to know that my connection to music has gotten so much stronger … that my appreciation for the talent and dedication of musicians has grown … and it doesn’t matter where the physical building may be, even if that place is Cleveland, because the music is more than sound. It’s a place in my heart, my mind, my soul that I can visit anytime.


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