Cleveland is the birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll, a term coined by radio DJ, Alan Freed to describe the uptempo black rhythm and blues records he played beginning in 1951. The first live rock concert was staged here by Freed in 1952, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Before heading to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, we went to Cleveland’s #3 ranked (of 192 “Things to Do” on Trip Advisor) attraction, West Side Market. With origins of the land dating back to 1840 the market is Cleveland’s oldest publicly owned market. There are now over 100 vendors, and the variety of foods available was fantastic. What a sight! I could see why over 1,500 Trip Advisor members had posted reviews about it with an overall score of 4.5 of 5.
After returning the car to our hotel, we walked the one-mile trip through Playhouse Square and downtown to the waterfront of Lake Erie to spend the remainder of the day emersed in Rock ‘N’ Roll. We were so enthralled by the exhibits and videos that we ended up spending nearly six hours there!
One of the highlights was watching a one-hour movie on three HUGE screens (the side screens were angled in) that highlighted the music of each hall inductee through the years since its inception in 1986. The concert footage was fabulous, and they did a wonderful job editing it for each class of inductees.
Another favorite exhibit was “Paul Simon Words & Music,” a first-person narrative of the personal story of Paul Simon’s life and his creative process. Simon’s first solo album was one of the first albums I ever owned, and it is still a sentimental favorite– that is, after Carol King’s Tapestry album, my first and favorite album EVER.
The final exhibit that appealed to me as a hobby photographer AND a lover of rock and roll was “Herb Ritts, The Rock Portraits.” Ritts (1952 – 2002) was best known for his anti-glamour bold portraits of rockers such as David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner and more. Many of those photographs graced the covers of Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazines.
What impressed me most about Herb Ritts’s style was his honest approach of photographing his subject without props and bringing out the inner beauty and soul of his subjects. He also had a way of making his subjects look FABULOUS. Sting, for example, was never somebody I envisioned as being GQ cover material, but when I look at this shot of him, all I can say is, “Wow!”
What I can say with certainty after today is that coming to Cleveland just to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was worth the trip!
Here are some scenes of Cleveland at night: