As we spend a weekend living in the past, the 1990′s, I recall a big event in the middle of the decade. In 1995 they opened the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…in Cleveland. Not New York, not Philadelphia, PA, not New Orleans, San Francisco, Memphis or even, dare I say, Chicago. But Cleveland. Well, considering that the great D.J. Alan Freed, who gave us the term Rock & Roll, made his first big impression in Cleveland, and I was born and raised in the Buckeye State, I’ll buy it. Actually, Freed borrowed the name Rock & Roll from the African-American community. It had nothing to do with music. It had to do with S-E-X…but then again, so did most of the music. Plus Freed was the first white DJ to champion black music, on the radio and with some hot tours that led to teen hysteria. This was the time in our history that an R&B record would be released and someone like Pat Boone would cover it, and that would be the version we’d hear on the radio. Until Alan Freed. That’s why he’s my hero. He saved us.
So that takes us to Cleveland. Or at least it took XRT’s Lin Brehmer and Norm Winer. They went to Cleveland to cover the festivities and did the first non-local broadcast from the radio studio at the museum. They still won’t tell me how Norm’s pants caught fire, but that’s so rock & roll now, isn’t it.
Little Richard and Yoko Ono showed up for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Then there was The Concert. I mean, THE CONCERT. That show at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium featured Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, The Pretenders, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne, John Fogerty, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, The Kinks, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Booker T & The M.G.s, Eric Burdon, Martha Reeves, The Allman Brothers Band, Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Carole King, Natalie Merchant…did I leave anyone out?
It’s still a great place to visit. They change the exhibits, host concerts and symposiums, have built an amazing archives, offer music education programs for schools, and research materials for music scholars. Keeps ‘em busy in Cleveland.
And there is a nice exhibit on the contributions of radio D.J.’s. My Mom was thrilled to see her little girl in that, and I was thrilled to be in the same exhibit with my hero, Yvonne Daniels. So when you make that road trip to Cleveland, remember they opened their doors in the 1990′s. Danny & The Juniors were right. Rock and roll is here to stay.
Come with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and the constant strains of “Whatever!” It’s an XRT 4D Flashback Weekend devoted to the 1990′s. We’ll play your favorite songs – whether XRT Listener Poll favorites, guilty pleasures, or long forgotten obscurities. It’s the decade of the championship Chicago Bulls, the Clinton White House, the birth of Google, DVDs, eBay and Viagara.
Starting at 9am tomorrow (Friday), we offer you nothin’ but Nineties, continuing right through the weekend. Hope your memories are as pleasant as ours!