You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

May 5: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

May 5, 2013

84033aCleveland was selected as the site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on this date in 1986, beating out Memphis (home of Sun Studios and Stax Records), Detroit (home of Motown Records), Cincinnati (home of King Records), and New York City. Among the Hall of Fame’s founders were four Jews: Jann S. Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone; attorney Allen Grubman; and record executives Seymour Stein and Bob Krasnow. Their selection of Cleveland was informed by the fact that it was the home town of Alan Freed, the disc jockey who coined the term “rock and roll” and created the Moondog Coronation Ball there, the first major rock and roll concert in history (March 21, 1952). Cleveland also pledged $65 million in public funds to finance the museum’s construction. The building was dedicated in 1995, and has hosted more than 8.5 million visitors since and established Cleveland as a tourist destination. Only three of the formal induction ceremonies have been held in Cleveland, however; of the twenty-six, twenty have been in New York. Inductees who have been featured in Jewdayo include Freed and Wenner, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Laura Nyro, Jerry Wexler, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Phil Spector, Bill Graham, Syd Nathan, Steely Dan, the Ramones, Leonard Cohen, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry.

“The whole world loves American movies, blue jeans, jazz and rock and roll. It is probably a better way to get to know our country than by what politicians or airline commercials represent.” —Billy Joel (inducted by Ray Charles in 1999)