Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Posted by r2d2 03/24/2009 @ 04:07

Tags : rock and roll hall of fame, museums, fine arts

News headlines
State's first rock 'n' roll Hall of Fame class inducted - Sioux Falls Argus Leader
The new South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association's first Hall Of Fame inductees were awarded plaques and gave speeches tonight during a sold-out show at the El Riad Shrine Mosque. Inductees were Myron Lee and the Caddies of Sioux Falls,...
Musicians Inducted In SD Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame - KELOLAND TV
Several South Dakota musicians were honored tonight, at the first ever South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association hall of fame induction. The recently-formed organization hopes to raise awareness and appreciation for musicians across the state....
SD rockers to be inducted into Hall of Fame - Sioux Falls Argus Leader
The South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association will hold its first Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dance Sunday. The inductees are Gene Carroll and the Shades; Sherwin Linton; Myron Lee and the Caddies; The Jadesmen; Byrnes Brothers Band;...
Jailhouse rock: NC Music Hall of Fame set to open in old ... - Salisbury Post
During a private preview Thursday night, Scott and others recounted how the Hall of Fame finally found a home in Kannapolis. In 1993, Doug Croft casually made a list of everyone in the Encyclopedia of Rock 'n' Roll with ties to North Carolina....
SD rock & roll hall of fame inductions Sunday - Sioux Falls Argus Leader
AP • May 20, 2009 The first inductions in the recently formed South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association hall of fame are scheduled for Sunday. Among those to be honored at the event in downtown Sioux Falls are Gene Carroll and the Shades of Sisseton...
Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell and Charlie mccoy Enter Hall of Fame - Cybergrass
Famous broadcast personality and fellow Hall of Fame member Ralph Emery officially inducted Mandrell into the Country Music Hall of Fame. "Carl Sandburg wrote of Abraham Lincoln, 'He is both steel and velvet, hard as a rock and soft as the drifting fog...
Line-up for the 2nd Annual Benefit Concert for the Rock and Roll ... - Carolina Newswire (press release)
RALEIGH – The line-up for the September 6, 2009 benefit concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (“Rock Hall”) and the Cary Community Foundation has been unveiled and what a Labor Day weekend show at the Booth Amphitheatre it is shaping up...
Albion archivist gets rock gig - The Jackson Citizen Patriot - MLive.com
By Bill Chapin As much as Jennie Thomas has enjoyed preserving and cataloguing the records and artifacts of Albion College for the last nine years, she could hardly turn down the opportunity to do the same job at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and...
Buddy Holly act leads slate of summer shows - Lancaster Newspapers
In 2008, he portrayed Buddy Holly during the induction of John Mellencamp into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Mueller said he was recommended for the gig by Holly's widow, Maria Elena Holly. "She was living in Dallas, and I wrote to her, inviting her...
NYC's Place for Rock Nostalgia - Examiner.com
The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Annex is an excellent alternative to shopping in SoHo. Many people may not make the pilgrimage to the museum in Cleveland in their lifetimes, so it's great to have some amazing pieces of rock history here in New York....

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Letter sent to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame from the Sex Pistols

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States, dedicated to recording the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, and other people who have in some major way influenced the music industry, particularly in the area of rock and roll. The museum is part of the city's redeveloped North Coast Harbor.

A handful of artists are inducted into the Hall of Fame in an annual induction ceremony, historically held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The first group of inductees, inducted on January 23, 1986, included Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley.

Currently, groups or individuals are qualified for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Nominees should have demonstrable influence and significance within the history of rock and roll. Four categories are recognized: Performers, Non-Performers, Early Influences, and Sidemen (as of 2000). However, fans have no input concerning who is nominated or elected to the hall.

Beginning in 2009, the annual induction ceremony will move to Cleveland on a rotating basis, perhaps as often as every three years.

Performers include singers, vocal groups, bands, and instrumentalists.

A nominating committee composed of music historians selects names for the Performers category, which are then voted on by roughly 1000 experts, including academics, journalists, producers, and others with music industry experience. Performers receiving the highest number of votes greater than 50% of the votes received are selected for induction; currently, five nominees make the cut each year, although that number has been higher in the past.

Early Influences includes artists from earlier eras, primarily country, folk, and blues, whose music inspired and influenced rock and roll artists. Other Notable artists that have been inducted as Early Influences include country musician Hank Williams, blues musician Howlin' Wolf, and jazz musicians Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. After Nat King Cole and Billie Holliday in 2000, no one was inducted in this category until 2009, when rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson was selected. Unlike earlier inductees in this category, Jackson's career almost entirely took place after the traditional 1955 start of the "rock era".

This category encompasses those who primarily work behind the scenes in the music industry, including record label executives, songwriters, record producers, disc jockeys, concert promoters and music journalists. This category has had at least one inductee every year except 2007 and 2009.

The Sidemen category includes veteran session and concert players who are selected by a large committee composed primarily of producers. This category was introduced in 2000, and was dormant from 2004 through 2007. In 2008, the category was re-activated.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was created April 20, 1983. However, it had no home. The search committee considered several cities, including Memphis (home of Sun Studios and Stax Records), Cincinnati (home of King Records), New York, and Cleveland. Cleveland lobbied hard to be chosen, citing that Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed is widely credited with promoting the new genre (and the term) of "rock and roll", and that Cleveland was the location of the first rock and roll concert. Civic leaders in Cleveland pledged $65 million in public money to fund the construction. A petition drive was signed by 600,000 fans favoring Cleveland over Memphis, and a USA Today poll which Cleveland won by 100,000 votes. The hall of fame board voted to build the museum in Cleveland.

During early discussions on where to build the Hall of Fame and Museum, the Foundation's board considered the Cuyahoga River. Ultimately, the chosen location was in downtown Cleveland by Lake Erie, just east of Cleveland Stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center.

At a point in the planning phase when a financing gap existed, a proposal was made for the Rock Hall to be located in the then vacant May Company Building, but it was finally decided that architect, I. M. Pei would be commissioned to design a new building. Initial CEO Dr. Larry Thompson facilitated I. M. Pei as designs for the site were made. Pei came up with the idea of a tower with a glass pyramid protruding from it. The museum tower was initially planned to stand 200ft high, but it had to be cut down to 162ft due to its proximity to Burke Lakefront Airport. The building's base is approximately 150,000 square feet. The groundbreaking ceremony was June 7, 1993, with Pete Townshend and Chuck Berry doing the honors. The museum opened on September 2, 1995, with the ribbon being cut by an ensemble that included Yoko Ono and Little Richard, among others.

The museum documents the entire history of rock and roll, regardless of induction status. Hall of Fame inductees are honored in a special exhibit inside the museum's spire.

There are seven levels in the building. The first through fifth levels feature many permanent and temporary exhibits documenting the history of rock and roll. Temporary exhibits display items from artists that have only been borrowed for a short period of time, such as the Warped Tour display in 2007, showcasing memorabilia from the tour's 12 years in existence. The museum has also put up numerous musical films for viewing, such as 2007's temporary exhibit running George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh. Some of the permanent exhibits include a history of audio technology, a section of mannequins donning outfits of famous performers past and present, and an area which looks at music scenes in various cities throughout different eras, including Memphis in the 50s, Detroit, Liverpool and San Francisco in the 60s, Los Angeles in the 70s, New York City and London in the 70s and 80s and Seattle in the 90s.

The third level is where the actual Hall of Fame is located and includes a wall with all of the inductees' signatures. The seventh and final level of the building is a temporary exhibit which features a certain group or artist for a period of time. It occupies the entire floor, which is the smallest since it is at the top of the pyramid. Some of the artists featured include Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley, The Supremes, The Who, John Lennon, U2, Bob Dylan, The Clash and The Police.

While the museum is located in Cleveland, prior to 2009 the induction ceremony was annually held in New York City (except in 1997, when the ceremony was held in Cleveland). This has been a source of controversy and tension between the Foundation's commitment to a yearly showcase and the Hall of Fame itself. In December 2007, it was announced that Cleveland will hold the ceremony every three years, beginning in 2009.

On December 3, 2008, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex was opened in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.

At one point Suzan Evans lamented the choices being made because there weren't enough big names that would sell tickets to the dinner. That was quickly remedied by dropping one of the doo-wop groups being considered in favor of a 'name' artist ... I saw how certain pioneering artists of the 50s and early 60s were shunned because there needed to be more name power on the list, resulting in 70s superstars getting in before the people who made it possible for them. Some of those pioneers still aren't in today.

Petitions with tens of thousands of signatures were also being ignored and some groups that were signed with certain labels or companies or were affiliated with various committee members have even been put up for nomination with no discussion at all.

Another criticism is that too many artists are inducted, allowing for several lesser acts to make it in. In fifteen years, 97 different artists have been inducted. A minimum of 50% of the vote is needed to be inducted, although the final percentages are not announced and a certain number of inductees (5 in 2009) is set before the ballots are shipped. The committee usually nominates a small number of artists (9 in 2007) and they are coming from an increasing number of different genres. Several voters, including Joel Selvin, who himself is a former member of the nominating committee, didn't submit their ballots in 2007, with the reason being that they didn't feel any of the candidates were truly worthy.

The Sex Pistols, inducted in 2006, refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum a "piss stain".

The Dave Clark Five was subsequently nominated again and then inducted the following year.

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll is an unordered list of 500 songs, created by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that they believe have been most influential in shaping the course of rock and roll, though some of them belong to different styles even after the consolidation of rock music (like some 1980s and 1990s rap songs). It was organized by Hall of Fame museum curator James Henke who, according to the hall, "compiled the list with input from the museum’s curatorial staff and numerous rock critics and music experts." The list is part of a permanent exhibit at the museum, and was envisioned as part of the museum from its opening in 1995. The list contains songs from the 1920s through the 1990s.

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Cleveland, Ohio

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Cleveland's North Coast Harbor.

Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The municipality is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately 60 miles (100 km) west of the Pennsylvania border. It was founded in 1796 near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, and became a manufacturing center owing to its location at the head of numerous canals and railroad lines. With the decline of heavy manufacturing, Cleveland's businesses have diversified into the service economy, including the financial services, insurance, legal, and healthcare sectors, though the city's population has continued to decline. Cleveland is also noted for its association with rock music; the city is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

As of the 2000 Census, the city proper had a total population of 478,403, and was then the 33rd largest city in the United States, (now estimated as the 40th largest due to declines in population) and the second largest city in Ohio. It is the center of Greater Cleveland, the largest metropolitan area in Ohio, which spans several counties and is defined in several different ways by the Census Bureau. The Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor Metropolitan Statistical Area which in 2000 ranked as the 23rd largest in the United States with 2,250,871 people. Cleveland is also part of the larger Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area, which in 2000 had a population of 2,945,831, and ranked as the country's 14th largest.

In studies conducted by The Economist in 2005, Cleveland and Pittsburgh were ranked as the most livable cities in the United States, and the city was ranked as the best city for business meetings in the continental U.S. The city faces continuing challenges, in particular from concentrated poverty in some neighborhoods and difficulties in the funding and delivery of high-quality public education.

Residents of Cleveland are usually referred to as "Clevelanders". Nicknames used for the city include "The Forest City," "The Cleve," "The Land," "DNA level C" (Cleveland spelled backwards), "Metropolis of the Western Reserve," "The New American City", "America's North Coast", "Sixth City", "Rock 'n' Roll Capital of the World" (because of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), and "C-Town".

Cleveland obtained its name on July 22, 1796 when surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company laid out Connecticut's Western Reserve into townships and a capital city they named "Cleaveland" after their leader, General Moses Cleaveland. Cleaveland oversaw the plan for the modern downtown area, centered on the Public Square, before returning home, never again to visit Ohio. The first settler in Cleaveland was Lorenzo Carter, who built a cabin on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. The Village of Cleaveland was incorporated on December 23, 1814. The spelling of the city's name was later changed to "Cleveland" when, in 1831, an "a" was dropped so the name could fit a newspaper's masthead.

In spite of the nearby swampy lowlands and harsh winters, its waterfront location proved to be an advantage. The area began rapid growth after the 1832 completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal. This key link between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes connected the city to the Atlantic Ocean via the Erie Canal and later via the St. Lawrence Seaway; and the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Growth continued with added railroad links. Cleveland incorporated as a city in 1836.

In 1836, the city, then located only on the eastern banks of the Cuyahoga River, nearly erupted into open warfare with neighboring Ohio City over a bridge connecting the two. Ohio City remained an independent municipality until it was annexed by Cleveland in 1854. The site flourished as a halfway point for iron ore from Minnesota shipped across the Great Lakes and other raw materials (coal) carried by rail from the south. Cleveland emerged as a major American manufacturing center, home to numerous major steel producers, as well as a number of carmakers, including gasoline cars Peerless, People's, Jordan, Winton (first car driven across the U.S.), steam car builders White and Gaeth, and electric car company Baker. By 1920, Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller had made his fortune and Cleveland had become the fifth largest city in the country. The city was a center for the national progressive movement, headed locally by Mayor Tom L. Johnson. Many Clevelanders of this era are buried in the historic Lake View Cemetery, along with James A. Garfield, the twentieth U.S. President.

In commemoration of the centennial of Cleveland's incorporation as a city, the Great Lakes Exposition debuted in June 1936 along the Lake Erie shore north of downtown. Conceived as a way to energize a city hit hard by the Great Depression, it drew 4 million visitors in its first season, and 7 million by the end of its second and final season in September 1937. The exposition was housed on grounds that are now used by the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Burke Lakefront Airport, among others.

Immediately after World War II, the city experienced a brief boom. In sports, the Indians won the 1948 World Series and the Browns dominated professional football in the 1950s. Businesses proclaimed that Cleveland was the "best location in the nation". The city's population reached its peak of 914,808, and in 1949 Cleveland was named an All-America City for the first time. By the 1960s, however, heavy industries began to slump, and residents sought new housing in the suburbs, reflecting the national trends of white flight and urban sprawl. Like other major American cities, Cleveland also began witnessing racial unrest, culminating in the Hough Riots from July 18, 1966 – July 23, 1966 and the Glenville Shootout on July 23, 1968 – July 25, 1968. The city's nadir is often considered to be its default on its loans on December 15, 1978, when under Mayor Dennis Kucinich it became the first major American city to enter default since the Great Depression. National media began referring to Cleveland as "the mistake on the lake" around this time, in reference to the city's financial difficulties, a notorious 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River (where industrial waste on the river's surface caught on fire), and its struggling professional sports teams. The city has worked to shed this nickname ever since, though in recent times the national media have been much kinder to the city, using it as an exemplar for public-private partnerships, downtown revitalization, and urban renaissance.

The metropolitan area began recovery thereafter under Mayors George Voinovich and Michael R. White. Redevelopment within the city limits has been strongest in the downtown area near the Gateway complex—consisting of Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena, and near North Coast Harbor—including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Browns Stadium, and the Great Lakes Science Center. Although Cleveland was hailed by the media as the "Comeback City," many of the inner-city residential neighborhoods remain troubled, and the public school system continues to experience serious problems. Economic development, retention of young professionals, and capitalizing upon its waterfront are current municipal priorities. In 1999, Cleveland was identified as an emerging global city.

Based on the Morgan Quitno Press 2006 national crime rankings, Cleveland ranked as the 4th most dangerous city in the nation among the 213 US cities with a population of 100,000-500,000 and the 7th most dangerous overall. Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual publication, Crime in the United States 2006 supports those findings.

Violent crime from 2005 to 2006 was mostly unchanged nationwide, but increased more than 10% in Cleveland. The murder rate dropped 30% in Cleveland, but was still far above the national average. Property crime from 2005 to 2006 was virtually unchanged across the country and in Cleveland, with larceny-theft down by 7% but burglaries were up almost 14%.

A study in 1971–72 found that although Cleveland's crime rate was significantly lower than other large urban areas, most Cleveland residents feared crime. In the 1980s, gang activity was on the rise, associated with crack cocaine. A taskforce was formed and was partially successful at reducing gang activity by a combination of removing gang-related graffiti and educating news sources to not name gangs in news reporting.

The distribution of crime in Cleveland is highly heterogeneous. Relatively few crimes take place in downtown Cleveland's business district, but the perception of crime in the downtown has been pointed to by the Greater Cleveland Growth Association (now the Greater Cleveland Partnership) as damaging to the city's economy. Neighborhoods of higher socioeconomic status in Cleveland and its suburbs have lower rates of violent crime than areas of lower status, and even controlling for this factor, areas with higher populations of African Americans have higher violent crime rates. A study of the relationship between employment access and crime in Cleveland found a strong inverse relationship, with the highest crime rates in areas of the city that had the lowest access to jobs. Furthermore, this relationship was found to be strongest with respect to economic crimes. A study of public housing in Cleveland found that criminals tend to live in areas of higher affluence and move into areas of lower affluence to commit crimes.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 82.4 square miles (213.5 km²), of which, 77.6 square miles (201.0 km²) is land and 4.8 square miles (12.5 km²) is water. The total area is 5.87% water.

The shore of Lake Erie is 569 feet (173 m) above sea level; however, the city lies on a series of irregular bluffs lying roughly parallel to the lake. In Cleveland these bluffs are cut principally by the Cuyahoga River, Big Creek, and Euclid Creek. The land rises quickly from the lakeshore. Public Square, less than a mile (2 km) inland, sits at an elevation of 650 feet (198 m), and Hopkins Airport, only five miles (8 km) inland from the lake, is at an elevation of 791 feet (241 m).

Cleveland possesses a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), typical of much of the central United States, with very warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. The Lake Erie shoreline is very close to due east-west from the mouth of the Cuyahoga west to Sandusky, but at the mouth of the Cuyahoga it turns sharply northeast. This feature is the principal contributor to the lake effect snow that is typical in Cleveland (especially east side) weather from mid-November until the surface of Lake Erie freezes, usually in late January or early February. The lake effect causes snowfall totals to range greatly across the city: while Hopkins Airport has only reached 100 inches (254 cm) of snowfall in a given season three times since 1968, seasonal totals approaching or exceeding 100 inches (2,500 mm) are not uncommon in an area known as the "Snow Belt", extending from the east side of Cleveland proper through the eastern suburbs and up the Lake Erie shore as far as Buffalo, New York. Despite its reputation as a cold, snowy place in winter, mild spells often break winter's grip with temperatures sometimes soaring above 70 °F (21 °C).

The all-time record high in Cleveland of 104 °F (40 °C) was established on June 25, 1988, and the all-time record low of −20 °F (−29 °C) was set on January 19, 1994. On average, July is the warmest month with a mean temperature of 71.9 °F (22.2 °C), and January, with a mean temperature of 25.7 °F (−3.5 °C), is the coldest. Normal yearly precipitation based on the 30-year average from 1971 to 2000 is 38.7 inches (930 mm). Yearly precipitation rates vary considerably in different areas of the Cleveland metropolitan area, with less precipitation on the western side and directly along the lake, and the most occurring in the eastern suburbs. Parts of Geauga county receive over 44 inches of rain annually.

Cleveland's downtown architecture is diverse. Many of the city's government and civic buildings, including City Hall, the Cuyahoga County Courthouse, the Cleveland Public Library, and Public Auditorium, are clustered around an open mall and share a common neoclassical architecture. Built in the early 20th century, they are the result of the 1903 Group Plan, and constitute one of the most complete examples of City Beautiful design in the United States. The Terminal Tower, dedicated in 1930, was the tallest building in North America outside New York City until 1967 and the tallest in the city until 1991. It is a prototypical Beaux-Arts skyscraper. The two newer skyscrapers on Public Square, Key Tower (currently the tallest building in Ohio) and the BP Building, combine elements of Art Deco architecture with postmodern designs. Another of Cleveland's architectural treasures is The Arcade (sometimes called the Old Arcade), a five-story arcade built in 1890 and renovated in 2001 as a Hyatt Regency Hotel. Cleveland's landmark ecclesiastical architecture includes the historic Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland and the onion domed St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Tremont.

Running east from Public Square through University Circle is Euclid Avenue, which was known for its prestige and elegance. In the late 1880s, writer Bayard Taylor described it as "the most beautiful street in the world." Known as "Millionaire's Row", Euclid Avenue was world-renowned as the home of such internationally-known names as Rockefeller, Hanna, and Hay.

Cleveland is home to four parks in the countywide Cleveland Metroparks system, the "Emerald Necklace" of Olmsted-inspired parks that encircles the region. In the Big Creek valley sits the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, which contains one of the largest collection of primates in North America . The other three parks are Brookside Park and parts of the Rocky River and Washington Reservations. Apart from the Metroparks is Cleveland Lakefront State Park, which provides public access to Lake Erie. Among its six parks are Edgewater Park, located between the Shoreway and Lake Erie just west of downtown, and Euclid Beach Park and Gordon Park on the east side. The City of Cleveland's Rockefeller Park, with its many Cultural Gardens honoring the city's ethnic groups, follows Doan Brook across the city's east side.

Downtown Cleveland is centered around Public Square and includes a wide range of diversified districts. Downtown Cleveland is home to the traditional Financial District and Civic Center, as well as the distinct Theatre District, which houses Playhouse Square Center, and mixed-use neighborhoods such as the Flats and the Warehouse District, which are occupied by industrial and office buildings and also by restaurants and bars. The number of downtown housing units in the form of condominiums, lofts, and apartments has increased over the past ten years. This trend looks to continue with the recent revival of the Flats, the Euclid Corridor Project, and the success of East 4th Street.

Cleveland residents often define themselves in terms of whether they live on the east side or the west side of the Cuyahoga River. The east side comprises the following neighborhoods: Buckeye-Shaker Square, Central, Collinwood, Corlett, Euclid-Green, Fairfax, Forest Hills, Glenville, Payne/Goodrich-Kirtland Park, Hough, Kinsman, Lee Harvard/Seville-Miles, Mount Pleasant, Nottingham, St. Clair-Superior, Union-Miles Park, University Circle, Little Italy, and Woodland Hills. The west side of the city includes the following neighborhoods: Brooklyn Centre, Clark-Fulton, Detroit-Shoreway, Cudell, Edgewater, Ohio City, Old Brooklyn, Stockyards, West Boulevard, and the four neighborhoods colloquially known as West Park: Kamm's Corners, Jefferson, Puritas-Longmead, and Riverside. Three neighborhoods in the Cuyahoga Valley are sometimes referred to as the south side: Industrial Valley/Duck Island, Slavic Village (North and South Broadway), and Tremont.

Several inner-city neighborhoods have begun to gentrify in recent years. Areas on both the west side (Ohio City, Tremont, Detroit-Shoreway, and Edgewater) and the east side (Collinwood, Hough, Fairfax, and Little Italy) have been successful in attracting increasing numbers of creative class members, which in turn is spurring new residential development. Furthermore, a live-work zoning overlay for the city's near east side has facilitated the transformation of old industrial buildings into loft spaces for artists.

Cleveland's older inner-ring or "first" suburbs include Bedford, Bedford Heights, Brook Park, Brooklyn, Cleveland Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, East Cleveland, Euclid, Fairview Park, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Maple Heights, Parma, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, University Heights, and Warrensville Heights. All are members of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium.

Cleveland is home to Playhouse Square Center, the second largest performing arts center in the United States behind New York's Lincoln Center. Playhouse Square includes the State, Palace, Allen, Hanna, and Ohio theaters within what is known as the Theater District of Downtown Cleveland. Playhouse Square's resident performing arts companies include the Cleveland Opera, the Ohio Ballet, and the Great Lakes Theater Festival. The center also hosts various Broadway musicals, special concerts, speaking engagements, and other events throughout the year. One Playhouse Square, now the headquarters for Cleveland's public broadcasters, was originally used as the broadcast studios of WJW Radio, where disc jockey Alan Freed first popularized the term "rock and roll". Located between Playhouse Square and University Circle are the Cleveland Play House and Karamu House, a well-known African American performing and fine arts center, both founded in the 1920s.

Cleveland is also home to the Cleveland Orchestra, widely considered one of the finest orchestras in the world, and often referred to as the finest in the United States. It is one of the "Big Five" major orchestras in the United States. The Orchestra plays in Severance Hall during the winter and at Blossom Music Center during the summer. The city is also home to the Cleveland Pops Orchestra.

There are two main art museums in Cleveland. The Cleveland Museum of Art is a major American art museum, with a collection that includes more than 40,000 works of art ranging over 6,000 years, from ancient masterpieces to contemporary pieces. Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland showcases established and emerging artists, particularly from the Cleveland area, through hosting and producing temporary exhibitions.

Cleveland has served as the setting for several major films, including The Fortune Cookie (1967) with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, Major League (1989), Antwone Fisher (2002) and Welcome To Collinwood (2002). Cleveland is also the setting for the film American Splendor, the lifelong home of writer Harvey Pekar and also the setting for most of his autobiographical comic books, upon which the film was based. The city was also the setting for the popular television sitcom, The Drew Carey Show which starred Cleveland native Drew Carey.

Because of its architecture, its proximity and its ease of access, locations in Cleveland are often used by filmmakers as a stand-in for other places. For example, a complex battle scene that was set in New York City in Spider-Man 3 was filmed in Cleveland in April 2006. Also, many of the external shots for the widely beloved holiday film A Christmas Story (1983), which was set in a small town in Indiana, were filmed in Cleveland.

Cleveland was the home of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, who created the comic book character Superman in 1932. Both attended Glenville High School, and their early collaborations resulted in the creation of "The Man of Steel".D. A. Levy wrote : "Cleveland: The Rectal Eye Visions)".

Cleveland's many immigrant groups have long played an important role in defining the regional cuisine. Polish and Eastern European foods, such as beer, pierogi, and kielbasa are popular in and around the city, as are foods associated with Cleveland's Irish and Italian immigrants. Residents like Hector Boiardi (Chef Boyardee) and Michael Ruhlman have been noted for their contributions in the culinary world. The West Side Market is home to vendors selling many kinds of ethnic food, as well as fresh produce, and ethnic restaurants can be found in the Little Italy, Slavic Village, and Tremont neighborhoods, among others.

Beginning in 2007, Cleveland's culinary scene began to receive international attention. In early 2008, the Chicago Tribune called Cleveland America's "hot new dining city". The national food press—Gourmet, Food & Wine, Esquire and Playboy.com—heaped praise on several Cleveland spots this year for best new restaurant, best steakhouse, best farm-to-table programs and great new neighborhood eateries.

On November 11, 2007, Cleveland chef Michael Symon helped brighten the spotlight on Cleveland's culinary scene when he was named "The Next Iron Chef" on the Food Network reality TV show by the same name. Anthony Bourdain highlighted the city's food scene on a 2007 episode of his Travel Channel show "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations".

Five miles (8 km) east of downtown Cleveland is University Circle, a 550-acre (2.2 km2) concentration of cultural, educational, and medical institutions, including the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals, Severance Hall, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Western Reserve Historical Society. Cleveland is also home to the I. M. Pei-designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located on the Lake Erie waterfront at North Coast Harbor downtown. Neighboring attractions include Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center, the Steamship Mather Museum, and the USS Cod, a World War II submarine.

Cleveland is home to many festivals throughout the year. Cultural festivals such as the annual Feast of the Assumption in the Little Italy neighborhood, the Hellenic Heritage Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in the Tremont neighborhood, and the Harvest Festival in the Slavic Village neighborhood are popular events. Vendors at the West Side Market in Ohio City offer many different ethnic foods for sale. Cleveland hosts an annual parade on Saint Patrick's Day that brings hundreds of thousands to the streets of downtown.

Fashion Week Cleveland, the city's annual fashion event, is one of the few internationally-recognized fashion industry happenings in North America. The show is considered by many to be the best in the Midwest—perhaps second only to New York for fashion weeks in the US.

In addition to the cultural festivals, Cleveland hosted the CMJ Rock Hall Music Fest, which featured national and local acts, including both established artists and up-and-coming acts, but the festival was discontinued in 2007 due to financial and manpower costs to the Rock Hall. The annual Ingenuity Festival and Notacon conference focus on the combination of art and technology. The Cleveland International Film Festival has been held annually since 1977, and its eleven day run drew a record 52,753 people in 2007. Cleveland also hosts an annual holiday display lighting and celebration, dubbed Winterfest, which is held downtown at the city's historic hub, Public Square.

Cleveland's professional sports teams include the Cleveland Indians (Major League Baseball), Cleveland Browns (National Football League), Cleveland Cavaliers (National Basketball Association), Cleveland City Stars (United Soccer Leagues), Lake Erie Monsters (American Hockey League), and the Cleveland Gladiators (Arena Football League). Annual sporting events held in Cleveland include the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, the Cleveland Marathon, the Mid-American Conference college basketball tournament and the Ohio Classic college football game. The city hosted the Gravity Games, an extreme sports series, from 2002 to 2004, and the Dew Action Sports Tour Right Guard Open in 2007. Local sporting facilities include Progressive Field, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Quicken Loans Arena, and the Wolstein Center.

The Cleveland Browns dominated the NFL from 1950 to 1955. The city's franchise is one of the most storied in football, though it last won an NFL championship in 1964 and has never appeared in the Super Bowl.

The Cleveland Indians last reached the World Series in 1997, losing to the Florida Marlins, and have not won the series since 1948. Between 1995 and 2001, Jacobs Field sold out 455 consecutive games and held a Major League Baseball record until it was broken in 2008. The Cleveland Cavaliers are experiencing a renaissance with Cleveland fans due to LeBron James, a native of nearby Akron and the number one overall draft pick of 2003. The Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference in 2007, but were defeated in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs. The city's recent lack of success in sports has earned it a reputation of being a cursed sports city, which ESPN validated by proclaiming Cleveland as its "most tortured sports city" in 2004.

The tradition of professional hockey in Cleveland started with the original Cleveland Barons in 1937. Cleveland fielded an NHL team, also called the Cleveland Barons, from 1976 to 1978, which was later merged into the Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars). Cleveland's current hockey team is the minor-league Lake Erie Monsters, which began play in 2007. The city has had other major and minor-league hockey teams in the past including the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League and the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA. Cleveland was also home to the Cleveland Rockers, one of the original eight teams in the WNBA in 1997. However, in 2003, the team folded after owner Gordon Gund dropped the team from operation.

In 2005, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced that Cleveland was one of several top areas in contention for an expansion team in 2007. Delays in securing a soccer-only stadium have now prevented any such team from beginning play until the 2009 season, but the Cleveland area is still a contender for expansion. The city's current soccer team, the Cleveland City Stars, play in the USL First Division.

Cleveland also fielded two indoor soccer teams, the original Cleveland Force of the NPSL . This team folded in 1988. They were replaced by the Cleveland Crunch of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), but the team ceased operations in 2005 after having won three league championships in the 90s.

Cleveland is served in print by The Plain Dealer, the city's sole remaining daily newspaper. The competing Cleveland Press ceased publication on June 17, 1982, and the Cleveland News ended its run in 1960. Cleveland also supports several alternative weekly publications, including the Free Times and Cleveland Scene. These two publications have recently become one joint paper.

Cleveland, combined with nearby Akron and Canton, is ranked for 2008–2009 as the 17th largest television market by Nielsen Media Research. The market is served by stations affiliated with major American networks including: WKYC-TV (channel 3, NBC), WEWS (channel 5, ABC), WJW-TV (channel 8, Fox), WOIO (channel 19, CBS), WUAB (channel 43, MNTV), and WBNX-TV (channel 55, The CW). Cleveland is also served by WVPX (channel 23, ION), Spanish-language channel WQHS-TV (channel 61, Univision), and WVIZ (channel 25) which is a member of PBS. A national television first was The Morning Exchange on WEWS, which defined the morning show format and served as the inspiration for Good Morning America.

Cleveland is also served by 29 AM and FM radio stations directly, and numerous other stations are heard from elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, which serve outlying suburbs and adjoining counties.

Cleveland's location on the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie has been key to its growth. The Ohio and Erie Canal coupled with rail links helped establish the city as a major American manufacturing center. Steel and many other manufactured goods emerged as its industries.

The city has sought to diversify its economy to become less dependent on its struggling manufacturing sector. Cleveland is the corporate headquarters of many large companies such as Eaton Corporation, National City Corporation, Forest City Enterprises, Sherwin-Williams Company, and KeyCorp. NASA maintains a facility in Cleveland, the Glenn Research Center. Jones Day, one of the largest law firms in the world, traces its origins to Cleveland, and its Cleveland office remains the firm's largest.

However, in recent years, the Cleveland area has lost nearly a dozen corporate headquarters, including TRW, OfficeMax, BP, and Oglebay Norton, mostly through acquisitions or mergers. The city is expected to lose the headquarters of longtime institution National City Bank, having recently been acquired by PNC Financial Services, based in Pittsburgh. In 2005, Duke Realty Corp., one of the area's largest landlords, announced it was selling all of its property in the Cleveland area because of the stagnation of the market; however, the company continues to maintain a large office building portfolio in the southern suburbs. The commercial real estate market rebounded in 2007 as office properties were purchased at a record pace. From the beginning of July to the end of September, 2007, there was one residential foreclosure for every fifty-seven homes in the metropolitan area, and ten percent of the city's homes are now vacant, due in part to the rise in foreclosure filings. Many of the foreclosed homes are vacant and have been vandalized.

Cleveland's largest employer, the Cleveland Clinic, ranks among America's best hospitals as tabulated by U.S. News & World Report. Cleveland's healthcare industry includes University Hospitals of Cleveland, a noted competitor which ranked twenty-fifth in cancer care, and MetroHealth medical center.

Cleveland is an emerging area for biotechnology and fuel cell research, led by Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals of Cleveland. Cleveland is among the top recipients of investment for biotech start-ups and research. Case Western Reserve, the Clinic, and University Hospitals have recently announced plans to build a large biotechnology research center and incubator on the site of the former Mt. Sinai Medical Center, creating a research campus to stimulate biotech startup companies that can be spun off from research conducted in the city.

City leaders stepped up efforts to cultivate a technology sector in its economy in the early 2000s. Former Mayor Jane L. Campbell appointed a "tech czar" whose job is to actively recruit tech companies to the downtown office market, offering connections to the high-speed fiber networks that run underneath downtown streets in several "high-tech offices" focused on the Euclid Avenue area. Cleveland State University hired a Technology Transfer Officer to work full time on cultivating technology transfers from CSU research to marketable ideas and companies in the Cleveland area, and appointed a Vice President for Economic Development to leverage the university's assets in expanding the city's economy. Case Western Reserve University participates in technology initiatives such as the OneCommunity project a high-speed fiber optic network linking the area's major research centers intended to stimulate growth. OneCommunity's work attracted the attention of Intel and in mid-2005, Cleveland was named an Intel "Worldwide Digital Community" along with Corpus Christi, Texas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Taipei, Taiwan. This distinction added about $12 million for marketing to expand regional technology partnerships, create a city-wide WiFi network, and develop a tech economy. In addition to this Intel initiative, in January 2006 a New York-based think tank, the Intelligent Community Forum, selected Cleveland as the sole American city among its seven finalists for the "Intelligent Community of the Year" award. The group announced that it nominated the city for its OneCommunity network with potential broadband applications. The OneCommunity Network is collaborating with Cisco Systems to deploy a cutting-edge wireless network that could provide widespread access to the region. Cisco is testing new technologies in wireless "mesh" networking. OneCommunity and Cisco officially launched the first phase in September 2006, blanketing several square miles of University Circle with wireless connectivity. Additionally, Cisco Systems acquired the former Aironet Wireless Networks, which was based in the Greater Cleveland area, to form its wireless networking product lineup and maintain a facility in the region.

As of the 2000 Census, there were 478,403 people, 190,638 households, and 111,904 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,166.5 people per square mile (2,380.9/km²). There were 215,856 housing units at an average density of 2,782.4 per square mile (1,074.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 50.99% Black or African American, 41.49% White, 1.35% Asian, 0.30% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.59% from other races, and 2.24% from two or more races. 7.26% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. Ethnic groups include Slovenes (10%), Germans (9.2%), Irish (8.2% ), Poles (4.8%), Italians (4.6%), and English (2.8%). There are also substantial communities of Hungarians, Arabs, Romanians, Czechs, Slovaks, Greeks, Ukrainians, Albanians, Macedonians, Croats, Serbs, Lithuanians, Slovenes, Koreans, and Han Chinese. The presence of Hungarians within Cleveland proper was so great that the city once boasted the highest concentration of Hungarians in the world outside of Budapest.

There were 190,638 households out of which 29.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.5% were married couples living together, 24.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.3% were nonfamilies. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.19. The population was spread out with 28.5% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,928, and the median income for a family was $30,286. Males had a median income of $30,610 versus $24,214 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,291. 26.3% of the population and 22.9% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 37.6% of those under the age of 18 and 16.8% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Cleveland was hit hard in the 1960s and early 1970s by white flight and suburbanization. While the city's total population declined, Cleveland Public Schools' enrollment had increased: 99,686 in 1950, and 134,765 in 1960, and 148,793 in 1963.. Cleveland Public Schools financially struggled with a growing student population, and a declining tax base due to regional industrial decline and depopulation of the metropolitan and urban areas in favor of the suburbs. After World War II, middle-class jobs and families migrated to the suburbs leaving behind predominantly low-income student enrollment in the Cleveland Public School system. On December 12, 1973, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Cleveland Chapter filed suit, Reed vs. Rhodes, against the Cleveland Board of Education in Cleveland's United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to racially integrate Cleveland Public Schools, claiming that the public schools were at least partly at fault for Cleveland's housing segregation into ethnic neighborhoods. Between August 31, 1976 and 1984, Chief United States District Judge Frank J. Battisti issued over 4,000 court orders including implementation of forced-busing of Cleveland Public Schools, the case was appealed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which by 23 Aug. 1979 upheld Battisti's earlier orders, and was later upheld on appeal by the Supreme Court of the United States. From 1970 to 1980, Cleveland experienced a 24% decline in population (from 751 thousand to 574 thousand),, which was part of a longer-term on-going trend from 1950 to 2000. Demographia estimates that Cleveland's 1980 population would have been 5% higher (606 thousand) without mandatory busing. Mandatory busing was one of several factors which sped up the migration from out of Cleveland by those who could afford to. The administrative and operational expense of complying with mandatory busing and other federal court orders caused a dramatic increase in overhead expenditures per student, while declining tax revenues resulted in lower expenditures on actually educating public school students. In 1996, Martin Hoke, Cleveland's 10th. District United States House Representative was quoted: "Children are now bused from a predominantly black school on the east side of town to a predominantly black school on the west side of town. More than half a billion dollarsA has been spent on desegregation activities since 1978-money that could have been used to buy textbooks, upgrade science laboratories or purchase new computers. When kids attend schools miles away from their homes, what working parent is able to attend sporting events, parent-teacher conferences, and home-room parties? Busing has contributed significantly to the decline of our urban centers." The combination of many factors resulted in declining enrollments. Before mandatory busing, in 1976, minority enrollment in Cleveland Public Schools was 58%, by 1994 it was 71%. By 1996, Cleveland Public Schools total enrollment was half of what it was pre-mandatory busing. In 1991, Ohio had a new proficiency test for 9th. grade students which the majority of Cleveland Public Schools students did not pass. By 1994, almost 50% of the system's students were failing to graduate from high school, and many graduates who did not qualify for entry-level jobs, with many employers increasingly requiring secondary or post-secondary degrees due to more information technology-related jobs and other changes in the overall economy. In March 1994, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Cleveland Chapter, Reed vs. Rhodes plaintiff, challenged the fairness of the Ohio 9th. grade proficiency test as an Ohio secondary school graduation requirement for African-American students; the subsequent federal court settlement agreement(s) left the 9th. grade secondary school graduation requirement intact and unchanged in 1994 and subsequently. Prior to mandatory busing, Cleveland Public Schools graduation rate was 75 percent, by 1996 it had dropped to 26.6 percent Although mandatory busing ended in the 1990s, Cleveland continued to slide into poverty, reaching a nadir in 2004 when it was named the poorest major city in the United States. Cleveland was again rated the poorest major city in the U.S. in 2006, with a poverty rate of 32.4%.

Cleveland's position as a center of manufacturing established it as a hotbed of union activity early in its history. This contributed to a political progressivism that has influenced Cleveland politics to the present. While other parts of Ohio, particularly Cincinnati and the southern portion of the state, have historically supported the Republican Party, Cleveland commonly breeds the strongest support in the state for the Democrats; At the local level, elections are nonpartisan. However, Democrats still dominate every level of government.

Cleveland is split between two congressional districts. Most of the western part of the city is in the 10th District, represented by Dennis Kucinich. Most of the eastern part of the city, as well as most of downtown, is in the 11th District, represented by Marcia Fudge. Both are Democrats.

During the 2004 Presidential election, although George W. Bush carried Ohio, John Kerry carried Cuyahoga County, which gave him the strongest support in the state.

The city of Cleveland operates on the mayor-council (strong mayor) form of government. The mayor is the chief executive of the city, and the office is held in 2008 by Frank G. Jackson. Previous mayors of Cleveland include progressive Democrat Tom L. Johnson, United States Supreme Court Justice Harold Hitz Burton, Republican Senator George V. Voinovich, two-time Democratic Ohio Governor and Senator Frank J. Lausche, and Carl B. Stokes, the first African American mayor of a major American city.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is the largest K-12 district in the state, with 127 schools and an enrollment of 55,567 students during the 2006–2007 academic year. It is the only district in Ohio that is under direct control of the mayor, who appoints a school board.

Cleveland is home to a number of colleges and universities. Most prominent among these is Case Western Reserve University, a world-renowned research and teaching institution located in University Circle. A private university with several prominent graduate programs, Case was ranked 38th in the nation in 2007 by U.S. News & World Report. University Circle also contains Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine. Cleveland State University (CSU), based in downtown Cleveland, is the city's public four-year university. In addition to CSU, downtown hosts the metropolitan campus of Cuyahoga Community College, the county's two-year higher education institution, as well as Myers University, a private four-year school that focuses on business education.

Ohio Technical College is based in Cleveland .

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is the city's major airport and an international airport that serves as one of three main hubs for Continental Airlines. It holds the distinction of having the first airport-to-downtown rapid transit connection in North America, established in 1968. In 1930, the airport was the site of the first airfield lighting system and the first air traffic control tower. Cleveland Hopkins is a significant regional air freight hub hosting FedEx Express, UPS Airlines, United States Postal Service, and major commercial freight carriers.

In addition to Hopkins, Cleveland is served by Burke Lakefront Airport, on the north shore of downtown between Lake Erie and the Shoreway. Burke is primarily a commuter and business airport.

The Port of Cleveland, located at the Cuyahoga River's mouth, is a major bulk freight terminal on Lake Erie receiving much of the raw materials used by the region's manufacturing industries.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Cleveland, via the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited routes, which stop at Cleveland Lakefront Station. Cleveland has also been identified as a hub for the proposed Ohio Hub project, which would bring high-speed rail to Ohio.

Cleveland hosts several inter-modal freight railroad terminals.

In 2007, the American Public Transportation Association named Cleveland's mass transit system the best in North America. Cleveland currently has a bus and rail mass transit system operated by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). The rail portion is officially called the RTA Rapid Transit, but is referred to by local residents as The Rapid. It consists of two light rail lines, known as the Green and Blue Lines, and a heavy rail line, the Red Line. In 2008, RTA completed installing a bus rapid transit line, for which naming rights were purchased by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, called the "Health" or Silver Line, which runs along Euclid Avenue from downtown to University Circle.

National inter-city scheduled bus service is provided at a Greyhound station, located just behind Playhouse Square theater district. Lakefront Trailways provides regional inter-city bus service to popular destinations from their terminal south of Cleveland in Brookpark, Ohio.

Akron Metro, Brunswick Transit Alternative, Laketran, Lorain County Transit, and Medina County Transit provide connecting bus service to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Geauga County Transit and Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) also offer connecting bus service in their neighboring areas.

Three two-digit Interstate highways serve Cleveland directly.

Two other limited-access highways serve Cleveland.

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Robert Johnson (musician)

One of Robert Johnson's three tombstones

Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was an American blues musician, among the most famous of Delta blues musicians. His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend.

Considered by some to be the "Grandfather of Rock 'n' Roll", his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style have influenced a broad range of musicians, including Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Winter, Jeff Beck, Jack White and Eric Clapton, who called Johnson "the most important blues singer that ever lived". He was also ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

He is an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Johnson's records were greatly admired by most white jazz record collectors from the time of their first release, and efforts were made to discover his biography, with virtually no success. In 1941 Alan Lomax learned from a very shy Muddy Waters that Johnson had performed in the Clarksdale, Mississippi area. By 1959, Samuel Charters could only add that Will Shade of the Memphis Jug Band remembered Johnson had once briefly played with him in West Memphis, Arkansas. In 1961 the sleeve notes to the album King of the Delta Blues Singers included reminiscences of Don Law who had recorded Johnson in 1936. Law added to the mystique surrounding Johnson, representing him as very young and extraordinarily shy.

The success of the album led blues scholars and enthusiasts to question every veteran blues musician who might have known Johnson or seen him in performance. A relatively full account of Johnson's brief musical career emerged in the 1960s, largely from accounts by Son House, Johnny Shines, David Honeyboy Edwards and Robert Lockwood.

Still nothing was known of Johnson's early life. The noted blues researcher Mack McCormick began researching his family background, but he was never ready to publish. Eventually McCormick's research became as much a legend as Johnson himself. In 1982 McCormick permitted Peter Guralnick to publish a summary in Living Blues (1982), later reprinted in book form as Searching for Robert Johnson. Later research has sought to confirm this account or to add minor details. A revised summary acknowledging major informants was written by Stephen LaVere for the booklet accompanying the compilation album Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings (1990), and is maintained with updates at the Delta Haze website. The documentary film "The Search for Robert Johnson" contains accounts by Mack McCormick and Gayle Dean Wardlow of what informants have told them, long interviews of David Honeyboy Edwards and Johnny Shines, and short interviews of surviving friends and family. These published biographical sketches achieve coherent narratives, partly by ignoring reminiscences and hearsay accounts which contradict or conflict with other accounts.

The two confirmed images of Johnson were located in 1973, in the possession of the musician's half-sister Carrie Thompson, and were not widely published until the late 1980s. A third photo, purporting to show Johnson posing with fellow blues performer Johnny Shines, was published in the November 2008 edition of Vanity Fair magazine. The same article claims that other photographs of Johnson, so far unpublished, may exist.

The first two photographs and the royalties from the Complete Recordings were so remunerative as to make Johnson's biography a cause for litigation. Carrie Thompson's claim to be Robert's half-sister has been recognised under law, and Claud Johnson has been recognised as Robert's natural son and sole living heir.

Five significant dates from his career are documented: Monday, Thursday and Friday, November 23, 26, and 27, 1936 at a recording session in San Antonio, Texas. Seven months later, on Saturday and Sunday, June 19–20, 1937, he was in Dallas, Texas at another session. His death certificate was discovered in 1968, and lists the date and location of his death. Two marriage licenses for Johnson have also been located in county records offices. The ages given in these certificates point to different birth dates, as do the entries showing his attendance at the Indian Creek School, Tunica, Mississippi. However, most of these dates can be discounted since Robert was not listed among his mother's children in the 1910 census. Carrie Thompson claimed that her mother, who was also Robert's mother, remembered his birth date as May 8, 1911. The 1920 census suggests he was born in 1912.

Robert Johnson was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, probably on May 8, 1911 or 1912, to Julia Major Dodds (born October, 1874) and Noah Johnson (born December, 1884). Julia was married to Charles Dodds (born February, 1865), a relatively prosperous landowner and furniture maker to whom she had borne 10 children. Dodds had been forced by a lynch mob to leave Hazlehurst following a dispute with white landowners. Julia herself left Hazlehurst with baby Robert, but after some two years sent him to live in Memphis with Dodds, who had changed his name to Charles Spencer.

Around 1919, Robert rejoined his mother in the area around Tunica and Robinsonville, Mississippi. Julia's new husband was known as Dusty Willis, who was 24 years younger than her, and Robert was remembered by some informants as "Little Robert Dusty". However, he was registered at the Indian Creek School in Tunica as Robert Spencer. He is listed as Robert Spencer in the 1920 census with Will and Julia Willis in Lucas, Arkansas, where they lived a short time. Robert was at school in 1924 and 1927 and the quality of his signature on his marriage certificate suggests that he studied continuously and was relatively well educated for a boy of his background. One school friend, Willie Coffee, has been discovered and filmed. He recalls that Robert was already noted for playing the harmonica and jaw harp.

After school, Robert adopted the surname of his natural father, signing himself as Robert Johnson on the certificate of his marriage to sixteen-year-old Virginia Travis in February 1929. She died shortly after in childbirth.

Around this time, the noted blues musician Son House moved to Robinsonville where his musical partner Willie Brown already lived. Late in life, House remembered Johnson as a boy who had followed him around and tried very unsuccessfully to copy him. He then left the Robbinsonville area, but later reappeared after a few months with a miraculous guitar technique. His boast seems to be credible; Johnson later recorded versions of "Preaching the Blues" and "Walking Blues" in House's vocal and guitar style. However, Son's chronology is questioned by Guralnick. When House moved to Robbinsville in 1930, Johnson was a young adult, already married and widowed. The following year, he was living near Hazelhurst, where he married for the second time. From this base Johnson began travelling up and down the Delta as an itinerant musician.

According to a legend known to modern Blues fans, Robert Johnson was a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Branded with a burning desire to become a great blues musician, he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar from Johnson and tuned it. After tuning the guitar, the devil played a few songs and then returned it to Johnson, giving him mastery of the guitar. This in effect sold Johnson's soul; and in exchange Robert Johnson became able to play, sing, and create the greatest blues anyone had ever heard.

This legend was developed over time, and has been chronicled by Gayle Dean Wardlow, Edward Komara and Elijah Wald. Folk tales of bargains with the Devil have long existed in African American and White traditions, and were adapted into literature by, amongst others, Washington Irving in "The Devil and Tom Walker" in 1824, and by Stephen Vincent Benet in "The Devil and Daniel Webster" in 1936. In the 1930s the folklorist Harry Middleton Hart recorded many tales of banjo players, fiddlers, card sharps and dice sharks selling their souls at the crossroads, along with guitarists and one accordionist. The folklorist Alan Lomax considered that every African American secular musician was "in the opinion of both himself and his peers, a child of the devil, a consequence of the black view of the European dance embrace as sinful in the extreme".

In recorded Blues, the theme first appeared in 1924 in the record by Clara Smith "Done Sold My Soul To The Devil (And My Heart's Done Turned To Stone)". An influential song, Smith's tune was covered during the following decade by blues artists Merline Johnson (the Yas Yas Girl), Casey Bill Weldon, and John D. Twitty. A cover was also recorded in 1937 by the white Western Swing band named after their business manager Dave Edwards.

Johnson seems to have claimed occasionally that he had sold his soul to the Devil, but it is not clear that he meant it seriously. However, these claims are strongly disputed in Tom Graves' biography of Johnson, Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson, published in 2008. Son House once told the story to Pete Welding as an explanation of Johnson's astonishingly rapid mastery of the guitar. Welding reported it as a serious belief in a widely read article in Down Beat in 1966. However, other interviewers failed to elicit any confirmation from House. Moreover, there were fully two years between House's observation of Robert as first a novice and then a master.

Further details were absorbed from the imaginative retellings by Greil Marcus and Robert Palmer. Most significantly, the detail was added that Johnson received his gift from a large black man at a crossroads. There is dispute as to how and when the crossroads detail was attached to the Robert Johnson story. All the published evidence, including a full chapter on the subject in the biography Crossroads by Tom Graves, suggests an origin in the story of Tommy Johnson. This story was collected from his musical associate Ishman Bracey and his elder brother Ledell in the 1960s. One version of Ledell Johnson's account was published in 1971 David Evans's biography of Tommy, and was repeated in print in 1982 alongside Son House's story in the widely read Searching for Robert Johnson.

In another version, Ledell placed the meeting not at a crossroads but in a graveyard. This resembles the story told to Steve LaVere that Ike Zinnerman of Hazelhurst, Mississippi learned to play the guitar at midnight while sitting on tombstones. Zinnerman is believed to have influenced the playing of the young Robert Johnson. Recent research by blues scholar Bruce Conforth uncovered Ike Zimmerman's daughter and the story becomes much clearer, including the fact that Johnson and Zimmerman did, in fact, practice in a graveyard at night (because it was quiet and no one would disturb them) but that it was not the Hazlehurst cemetery as had been believed. Johnson spent about a year living with, and learning from Zimmerman who ultimately accompanied Johnson back up to the Delta to look after him. Conforth's article in Living Blues magazine goes into much greater detail.

The crossroads detail was widely believed to come from Johnson himself, probably because it appeared to explain the discrepancy in "Cross Road Blues". Johnson's high emotion and religious fervour are hard to explain as resulting from the mundane situation described, unsuccessful hitchhiking as night falls. The crossroads myth offers a simple literal explanation for both the religion and the anguish.

An alternative explanation (as expressed by musician and blues historian Scott Ainslie) is that the experience of "unsuccessful hitchhiking as night falls" --far from being a "mundane situation"-- was, in fact, likely to be an extremely dangerous predicament for a lone, young black man to find himself in the deep American south in the 1920s and 1930s. This is especially true if the individual in question was a stranger in the area and suspected of working at a nearby "juke joint". Rather than "religious fervour", the "high emotion" that Johnson exhibits while singing the song is more likely to recall the justifiable anxiety (or, indeed, terror) that he probably regularly experienced during his career as an itinerant musician, trying to reach the relative safety of a welcoming safe-house before evening fell.

The myth was established in mass consciousness in 1986 by the film Crossroads. There are now tourist attractions claiming to be "The Crossroads" at Clarksdale and in Memphis. The film O Brother Where Art Thou? by the Coen Brothers incorporates the crossroads legend and a young African American blues guitarist named "Tommy Johnson", with no other biographical similarity to the real Tommy Johnson or to Robert Johnson. In the CW TV series Supernatural, the season two episode "Crossroad Blues" was based on the legend.

When Johnson arrived in a new town, he would play for tips on street corners or in front of the local barbershop or a restaurant. He played what his audience asked for — not necessarily his own compositions, and not necessarily blues. With an ability to pick up tunes at first hearing, Johnson had no trouble giving his audiences what they wanted, and certain of his contemporaries, most notably Johnny Shines, later remarked on Johnson's interest in jazz and country. (Many giants of the blues, including Muddy Waters, were not averse to playing the hit songs of the day.) Johnson also had an uncanny ability to establish a rapport with his audience — in every town in which he stopped, Johnson would establish ties to the local community that would serve him well when he passed through again a month or a year later.

During this time Johnson established what would be a relatively long-term relationship with Estella Coleman, a woman who was about fifteen years his elder and the mother of musician Robert Lockwood, Jr.. Johnson, however, reportedly also cultivated a woman to look after him in each town he played in. Johnson supposedly asked homely young women living in the country with their families whether he could go home with them, and in most cases the answer was yes—until a boyfriend arrived or Johnson was ready to move on.

Around 1936, Johnson sought out H. C. Speir in Jackson, Mississippi, who ran a general store and doubled as a talent scout. Speir, who helped the careers of many blues players, put Johnson in touch with Ernie Oertle, who offered to record the young musician in San Antonio, Texas. At the recording session, held on November 23, 1936 in rooms at the Blue Bonnet Hotel . which Brunswick Records had set up as a temporary studio, Johnson reportedly performed facing the wall. This has been cited as evidence he was a shy man and reserved performer, a conclusion played up in the inaccurate liner notes of the 1961 album King of the Delta Blues Singers. Johnson probably was nervous and intimidated at his first time in a makeshift recording studio (a new and alien environment for the musician), but in truth he was probably focusing on the demands of his emotive performances. In addition, playing into the corner of a wall was a sound-enhancing technique that simulated the acoustical booths of better-equipped studios. In the ensuing three-day session, Johnson played 16 selections, and recorded alternate takes for most of these. When the recording session was over, Johnson presumably returned home with cash in his pocket; probably more money than he'd ever had at one time in his life.

When his records began appearing, Johnson made the rounds to his relatives and the various children he had fathered to bring them the records himself. The first songs to appear were "Terraplane Blues" and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down," probably the only recordings of his that he would live to hear. "Terraplane Blues" became a moderate regional hit, selling 5,000 copies.

In 1937, Johnson traveled to Dallas, Texas, for another recording session in a makeshift studio at the Brunswick Record Building, 508 Park Avenue. Eleven records from this session would be released within the following year. "Stones In My Passway" and "Me And The Devil" are both about betrayal, a recurrent theme in country blues. "Hell Hound On My Trail" utilises another common theme: fear of the Devil. Other themes in Johnson's music include impotence ("Dead Shrimp Blues" and "Phonograph Blues") and infidelity ("Terraplane Blues," "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day" and "Love in Vain").

It has been suggested that the Devil in these songs does not solely refer to the Christian model of Satan, but equally to the African trickster god (himself associated with crossroads), Legba, although author Tom Graves claims the connection to African deities is tenuous at best. Graves' contention, however, probably stems from a lack of familiarity with the pervasive retention of African religious roots among Southern Blacks early in the 20th century. As folklorist Harry M Hyatt discovered during his research in the South from 1935-1939 when African-Americans born in the 19th or early 20th century told interviewers that they or anyone they knew had "sold their soul to the devil at the crossroads," they did not intend to convey thereby that the person in question was an evil, hell-bound anti-Christian. The confusion arises in the eyes of white interpreters who don't understand that the crossroads deity is a survival from polytheistic African religions and that he has been assigned the only name he can be given in a monotheistic religion. There is ample evidence supporting the African religious retentions surrounding Legba and the making of a "deal" (not selling the soul in the same sense as in the Faustian tradition cited by Graves) with this so-called "devil" at the crossroads.

In the last year of his life, Johnson is believed to have traveled to St. Louis and possibly Illinois, and then to some states in the East. He spent some time in Memphis and traveled through the Mississippi Delta and Arkansas. By the time he died, at least six of his records had been released in the South as race records.

His death occurred on August 16, 1938, at the age of 27 at a country crossroads near Greenwood, Mississippi. He had been playing for a few weeks at a country dance in a town about 15 miles (24 km) from Greenwood.

There are a number of accounts and theories regarding the events preceding Johnson's death. One of these is that one evening Johnson began flirting with a woman at a dance. One version of this rumor says she was the wife of the juke joint owner who unknowingly provided Johnson with a bottle of poisoned whiskey from her husband, while another suggests she was a married woman he had been secretly seeing. Researcher Mack McCormick claims to have interviewed Johnson's alleged poisoner in the 1970s, and obtained a tacit admission of guilt from the man. When Johnson was offered an open bottle of whiskey, his friend and fellow blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson knocked the bottle out of his hand, informing him that he should never drink from an offered bottle that has already been opened. Johnson allegedly said, "don't ever knock a bottle out of my hand." Soon after, he was offered another open bottle of whiskey and accepted it, and it was that bottle that was laced with strychnine. Honey Boy Edwards, another blues musician was present, and essentially confirms this account. Johnson is reported to have started to feel ill into the evening after drinking from the bottle and had to be helped back to his room in the early morning hours. Over the next three days, his condition steadily worsened and witnesses reported that he died in a convulsive state of severe pain—symptoms which are consistent with strychnine poisoning. Strychnine was readily available at the time as it was a common pesticide and, although it is very bitter-tasting and extremely toxic, a small quantity dissolved in a harsh-tasting solution such as whiskey could possibly have gone unnoticed but still produced the symptoms (over a period of days due to the reduced dosage) and eventual death that Johnson experienced. Tom Graves in his biography Crossroads: The Life and Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson convincingly deconstructs the possibility of death by strychnine and using expert testimony from toxicologists disputes the notion. He claims that strychnine has such a distinctive odor and taste that it can not be disguised even in strong liquor. He also claims that a significant amount of strychnine would have to be consumed in one sitting to be fatal and that death from the poison would occur within hours, not days.

The precise location of his grave remains a source of ongoing controversy, and three different markers have been erected at supposed burial sites outside of Greenwood. Research in the 1980s and 1990s strongly suggests Johnson was buried in the graveyard of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist church near Morgan City, Mississippi, not far from Greenwood, in an unmarked grave. A cenotaph memorial was placed at this location in 1990 paid for by Columbia Records and numerous smaller contributions made through the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund. More recent research by Stephen LaVere (including statements from Rosie Eskridge, the wife of the supposed gravedigger) indicates that the actual grave site is under a big pecan tree in the cemetery of the Little Zion Church north of Greenwood along Money Road. Sony Music has placed a marker at this site.

In 1938, Columbia Records producer John Hammond, who owned some of Johnson's records, sought him out to book him for the first "From Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. On learning of Johnson's death, Hammond replaced him with Big Bill Broonzy, but still played two of Johnson's records from the stage. In 1992 Hammond's son, blues musician John P. Hammond, narrated a documentary called The Search for Robert Johnson.

Robert Johnson has a son, Claud Johnson, and grandchildren who currently reside in a town near Hazlehurst, Mississippi.

Eleven Johnson 78s were released on the Vocalion label during his lifetime, with a twelfth issued posthumously. All songs are copyrighted to Robert Johnson, and his estate.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included four songs by Robert Johnson in the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.

On September 17, 1994 the U.S. Post Office issues a Robert Johnson 29-cent commemorative postage stamp.

Blues musician and historian Elijah Wald feels that Johnson's major influence is on rock. He has made the controversial appraisal that "As far as the evolution of black music goes, Robert Johnson was an extremely minor figure, and very little that happened in the decades following his death would have been affected if he had never played a note." Assessments such as Eric Clapton's of Johnson as "the most important blues musician who ever lived", says Wald, are perfectly appropriate, but relate to Johnson's reputation and influence after the appearance of the first LP of his work in 1961. Wald argues that Johnson, although well traveled and always admired in his performances, was little heard by the standards of his time and place, and his records even less so. ("Terraplane Blues", sometimes described as Johnson's only hit record, outsold his others but was still a minor success.) If one had asked black blues fans about Robert Johnson in the first twenty years after his death, writes Wald, "the response in the vast majority of cases would have been a puzzled 'Robert who?'" Musical associates such as Johnny Shines also stated that in live performances, Johnson often did not focus on his dark and complex original compositions, but instead pleased audiences by performing more well-known pop standards of the day.

Although little known to the African American mass market, Johnson was known and admired by small but influential group of white record collectors and writers involved with the New Orleans Jazz Revival. This group included John Hammond, who attempted to book Johnson for his first Spirituals to Swing concert. Hammond loaned his Robert Johnson records to Alan Lomax at the Library of Congress, who included them in a published list of records of interest to folklore scholars. Johnson was quoted by jazz critic Rudi Blesh in 1946, and in 1959 the jazz writer Samuel Charters included a chapter on Johnson in his pioneering book The Country Blues, otherwise devoted to singers who had enjoyed more commercial success. Published with the "English Edition" (sic) of the book in 1960 was an album also titled The Country Blues (RBF 1), which included Johnson's "Preachin' Blues".

Thus there was already considerable interest in Johnson among white jazz and blues enthusiasts when Columbia Records issued the album King of the Delta Blues Singers compiled from Johnson's recordings. The album (and subsequent bootleg recordings) introduced his work to a much wider audience and kick-started a renewal of his influence, this time to a body of largely white fans in the US and in Britain. This new fan base included future rock stars such as Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. When Keith Richards was first introduced to Johnson's music by his band mate Brian Jones, he replied, "Who is the other guy playing with him?", not realizing it was all Johnson playing on one guitar. Clapton described Johnson's music as "the most powerful cry that I think you can find in the human voice." The song "Crossroads" by British psychedelic blues rock band Cream is a cover version of Johnson's "Cross Road Blues", about the legend of Johnson selling his soul to the Devil at the crossroads, although Johnson's original lyrics ("Standin' at the crossroads, tried to flag a ride") suggest he was merely hitchhiking rather than signing away his soul to Lucifer in exchange for being a great blues musician.

An important aspect of Johnson's singing, and indeed of all Delta Blues singing styles, and also of Chicago blues guitar playing, is the use of microtonality—his subtle inflections of pitch are part of the reason why his singing conveys such powerful emotion.

John P. Hammond (the son of the aforementioned John Hammond) produced a documentary in the early 1990s about Johnson's life in the Delta area.

In the summer of 2003, Rolling Stone magazine listed Johnson at number five in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

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Howlin' Wolf

Howlin' Wolf.jpg

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), better known as Howlin' Wolf, was an influential blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player.

With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, "no one could match for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits." Many songs popularized by Burnett—such as "Smokestack Lightnin'," "Back Door Man" and "Spoonful"—have become standards of blues and blues rock.

Born in White Station, Mississippi, near West Point, he was named after Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, and was nicknamed Big Foot Chester and Bull Cow in his early years because of his massive size. He explained the origin of the name Howlin' Wolf thus: "I got that from my grandfather ." He used to tell him stories about the wolves in that part of the country and warn him that if he misbehaved, they would "get him". As a youth he listened to Charley Patton, who taught him the rudiments of guitar, as well as to the Mississippi Sheiks, Tommy Johnson and Jimmie Rodgers, who was Wolf's childhood idol. Wolf tried to emulate Rodgers' "blue yodel", but found that his efforts sounded more like a growl or a howl. "I couldn't do no yodelin'," Barry Gifford quoted him as saying in Rolling Stone, "so I turned to howlin'. And it's done me just fine." His harmonica playing was modeled after that of Rice Miller (also known as Sonny Boy Williamson II), who had lived with his sister for a time and taught him how to play. He played with Robert Johnson and Willie Brown in his youth.

He farmed during the 1930s, served in the United States Army as a radioman in Seattle during World War II, and by 1948 had formed a band which included guitarists Willie Johnson and M. T. Murphy, harmonica player Junior Parker, a pianist remembered only as "Destruction" and drummer Willie Steele. He began broadcasting on KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, alternating between performing and pitching farm equipment, and auditioned for Sam Phillips's Memphis Recording Service in 1951.

According to the documentary film The Howlin' Wolf Story, Howlin' Wolf's parents broke up when he was young. His very religious mother Gertrude threw him out of the house while he was still a child for refusing to work around the farm; he then moved in with his uncle, Will Young, who treated him badly. When he was 13, he ran away and claimed to have walked 85 miles (137 km) barefoot to join his father, where he finally found a happy home within his father's large family. During the peak of his success, he returned from Chicago to his home town to see his mother again, but was driven to tears when she rebuffed him and refused to take any money he offered her, saying it was from his playing the "Devil's music".

Howlin' Wolf quickly became a local celebrity, and soon began working with a band that included Willie Johnson, and guitarist Pat Hare. His first recordings came in 1951, when he recorded sessions for both the Bihari brothers at Modern Records and Leonard Chess' Chess Records. Chess issued Howlin' Wolf's How Many More Years in August 1951; Wolf also recorded sides for Modern, with Ike Turner, in late 1951 and early 1952. Chess eventually won the war over the singer, and Wolf settled in Chicago, Illinois c. 1953. Upon arriving in Chicago, he assembled a new band, recruiting Chicagoan Joseph Leon "Jody" Williams from Memphis Slim's band as his first guitarist. Within a year Wolf enticed guitarist Hubert Sumlin to leave Memphis and join him in Chicago; Sumlin's terse, curlicued solos perfectly complemented Burnett's huge voice and surprisingly subtle phrasing. Although the line up of Wolf's band would change regularly over the years, employing many different guitarists both on recordings and in live performance including Willie Johnson, Jody Williams, Lee Cooper, L.D. McGhee, Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, his brother Abe "Little Smokey" Smothers, Jimmy Rogers, Freddie "Abu Talib" Robinson, and Buddy Guy, among others, with the exception of a couple of brief absences in the late '50s Sumlin remained a member of the band for the rest of Wolf's career, and is the guitarist most often associated with the Chicago Howlin' Wolf sound.

In the 1950s Wolf had four songs that qualified as "hits" on the Billboard national R&B charts: "How Many More Years", his first and biggest hit, made it to #4 in 1951; its flip side, "Moanin' at Midnight", made it to #10 the same year; "Smoke Stack Lightning" charted for three weeks in 1956, peaking at #8; and "I Asked For Water" appeared on the charts for one week in 1956, in the #8 position. In 1959, Wolf's first album, Moanin' in the Moonlight, a compilation of previously released singles, was released.

His 1962 album Howlin' Wolf is a famous and influential blues album, often referred to as "The Rocking Chair album" because of its cover illustration depicting an acoustic guitar leaning against a rocking chair. This album contained "Wang Dang Doodle", "Goin' Down Slow", "Spoonful", and "Little Red Rooster", songs which found their way into the repertoires of British and American bands infatuated with Chicago blues. In 1964 he toured Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival tour produced by German promoters Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau. In 1965 he appeared on the television show Shindig at the insistence of The Rolling Stones, who were scheduled to appear on the same program and who had covered "Little Red Rooster" on an early album. He was often backed on records by bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon who is credited with such Howlin' Wolf standards as "Spoonful", "I Ain't Superstitious", "Little Red Rooster", "Back Door Man", "Evil", "Wang Dang Doodle" (later recorded by Koko Taylor), and others.

In September, 1967, he joined forces with Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters for The Super Super Blues Band album of Chess blues standards, including "The Red Rooster" and "Spoonful".

In May 1970, Howlin' Wolf, his long-time guitarist Hubert Sumlin, and the young Chicago blues harmonica player Jeff Carp traveled to London along with Chess Records producer Norman Dayron to record the Howlin' Wolf London Sessions LP, accompanied by British blues/rock musicians Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ian Stewart, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and others. He recorded his last album for Chess, The Back Door Wolf, in 1973. Chess released a Howlin' Wolf compilation album, Chess Masters, in 1981.

Unlike many other blues musicians, after he left his impoverished childhood to begin a musical career, Howlin' Wolf was always financially successful. Having already achieved a measure of success in Memphis, he described himself as "the onliest one to drive himself up from the Delta" to Chicago, which he did, in his own car on the Blues Highway and with four thousand dollars in his pocket, a rare distinction for a black blues man of the time. In his early career, this was the result of his musical popularity and his ability to avoid the pitfalls of alcohol, gambling, and the various dangers inherent in what are vaguely described as "loose women", to which so many of his peers fell prey. Though functionally illiterate into his 40s, Burnett eventually returned to school, first to earn a G.E.D., and later to study accounting and other business courses aimed to help his business career.

Wolf met his future wife, Lillie, when she attended one of his performances in a Chicago club. She and her family were urban and educated, and not involved in what was generally seen as the unsavory world of blues musicians. Nonetheless, immediately attracted when he saw her in the audience as Wolf says he was, he pursued her and won her over. According to those who knew them, the couple remained deeply in love until his death. Together they raised Lillie's two daughters from an earlier relationship, Bettye and Barbara.

After he married Lillie, who was able to manage his professional finances, Wolf was so financially successful that he was able to offer band members not only a decent salary, but benefits such as health insurance; this in turn enabled him to hire his pick of the available musicians, and keep his band one of the best around. According to his daughters, he was never financially extravagant, for instance driving a Pontiac station wagon rather than a more expensive and flashy car.

At 6 feet, 6 inches (198cm) and close to 300 pounds (136 kg), he was an imposing presence with one of the loudest and most memorable voices of all the "classic" 1950s Chicago blues singers. Howlin' Wolf's voice has been compared to "the sound of heavy machinery operating on a gravel road". Although the two were reportedly not that different in actual personality, this rough edged, slightly fearsome musical style is often contrasted with the less crude but still powerful presentation of his contemporary and professional rival, Muddy Waters, to describe the two pillars of the Chicago Blues representing the music.

Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), Little Walter Jacobs and Muddy Waters are usually regarded in retrospect as the greatest blues artists who recorded for Chess in Chicago. Sam Phillips once remarked of Chester Arthur Burnett, "When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.' " In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #51 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Burnett died at Hines VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois, USA on January 10, 1976 and was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Hillside, Cook County, Illinois in a plot in Section 18, on the east side of the road. His large gravestone, allegedly purchased by Eric Clapton, has an image of a guitar and harmonica etched into it.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed three songs by Howlin' Wolf of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.

On September 17, 1994 the U.S. Post Office issued a Howlin' Wolf 29 cents commemorative postage stamp.

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Source : Wikipedia