Play It Loud, A day at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Nancy Coe

Written by on January 7, 2020

It’s an icy, snowy windy day by Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland Ohio, It’s a perfect Ohio winter day to spend at The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

I was really excited about seeing the Exhibit, Play It Loud, which featured the instruments of Rock & Roll. The exhibit is a special one presented in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is one of the largest collections of Rock & Roll instruments ever assembled in a single place. Many of the displays are actual instruments owned by and on loan from musicians, their families and private collections. The exhibit tells the history of Rock & Roll from the instrumental perspective.

The minute you enter the exhibit area you become entrenched in rock & roll historical artifacts. The very first exhibit visited was called “Woodstock at 50″ An eclectic display of items from the Woodstock concerts, My favorite was handwritten lyrics by Jimi Hendrix of ‘Voodoo Child”.

handwritten lyrics to Voodoo Child
Woodstock Memories

Meandering down the hall to the next gallery we were treated to window displays from various periods in rock & roll history. This hall is called the roots of rock & roll and it was amazing. Artifacts from all regions and years of rock. This was a must see and is part of the permanent exhibit.

Moving on to the Elvis display which included one of my favorite guitars, his 1963 Gibson EBS1250 created exclusively for Elvis. Then on to the Vans Warped Tour Experience, this room was dedicated to celebrating 25 years of Vans Warped Tours. There was plenty to see here and so many artifacts to view. This was a nostalgic and fun room to visit. The cities and sounds displays were also fun to view and I was especially delighted by the Cleveland and MidWest display. My favorite item here was an old wooden Agora sign from many years past.

Everywhere we went all over the museum we were treated to various displays of The Legends instruments. Drums played by Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, and Keith Moon, guitars of all kinds played by all the greats. There were also bass guitars, pianos, and horns used by Hall of Fame Artists and all on display.

The next stop was the Garage, your turn to play. The entire second floor was a hands on instrumental experience area. There were several stations where you could plug in a guitar or bass and jam to your favorite tracks. There were a couple of drum booths complete with full kits for you to try your talent on and even a room where you and your friends could actually create a band and jam out together. There was an area for sitting and several acoustic guitars to check out. There was a computer simulator where you could create your own logos and merch designs. This exhibit was a favorite for the many young visitors and was quite busy, but everything was easily accessible and we tried out a few ourselves. Next was on to the current inductees display and a place to vote for the people’s choice. We enjoyed a long Hall of Fame Wall displaying inductees from each year along with plaques which were signed.

The minute you step off the escalator onto the next level the first thing you see is a huge replica of Pink Floyd’s Wall. The wall is huge and includes a handwritten explanation of the album and the idea behind it signed by Roger Waters in 1995. This display was very cool and another one of my personal favorites.

The final level was back to the instrument exhibit. There was a display which featured the destruction of rock & roll instruments by the artists as part of the show. There were several smashed guitars , drums and even mics of various artists on display. The most famous of the “destroyed equipment bands” was The Who. However many acts included destruction of the instruments. I found that exhibit quite intriguing and something I had not really ever considered.

The last stop before going home was the gift shop. This is not to be missed. This shop has everything you could imagine for sale. All kinds of rock apparel, housewares , decorations, records, cd’s and books and posters of many shows performed in the past in Cleveland by Hall of Fame artists.

I live near Cleveland and this is the fourth time I have visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Each time I go is a unique and new experience. This place and the current exhibit is a national treasure and should be visited by all music fans no matter how old or young. There is literally something for everyone to enjoy here. Plan to spend several hours you will not be disappointed.


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