Cleveland’s Rock Timeline
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Cleveland, but why? Major milestones, including influential people and events, that have developed and shaped the genre took place right here, making Cleveland the birthplace of rock and roll.
Leo Mintz opens The Record Rendezvous in Cleveland, a store specializing in rhythm and blues known then as “race music.” About 12 years later Mintz convinces local deejay Alan Freed to start playing those records on the air, effectively launching the rock ‘n’ roll era.
Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed begins his “Moondog Show” on WJW, broadcasting only rhythm and blues music. It quickly becomes a hit with all audiences. He calls the music “rock ‘n’ roll.”
On March 21, 1952, Freed puts on the first ever rock and roll show in Cleveland and calls it “The Moondog Coronation Ball.” The show, oversold by more than 10,000 tickets, causes an overflow of the crowds breaking down the doors and storming the arena where a full-scale riot escalates and ultimately cancels the show. Rock n’ roll music makes headlines everywhere and controversy ensues.
Elvis Presely plays in Cleveland at Brooklyn High School, his first concert above the Mason-Dixon Line.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Jane Scott becomes the first established rock writer, beginning a teen music column in 1962. Scott went on to become known as the “oldest living rock critic,” staying on with the paper until 2002.
The Beatles invade Cleveland and play Public Hall. The crowd rushes the stage numerous times which leads police to delay the show multiple times before finally cutting the performance short. The following year, The Beatles are banned from playing in the city.
1973 – 1986
WMMS dominates the Cleveland radio airwaves and gains a national reputation as a forum for new rock acts.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens its doors on North Coast Harbor. The pyramid-like shape is designed to reflect a guitar shooting up to the sky.
– April Ingle
Note: The return of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to Cleveland, on April 14, is the perfect opportunity for music-lovers of any kind to schedule their tour stop in the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. Visit www.clevelandrockweek.com for a list of events, hotel packages, dining options and your chance to win four tickets to the sold-out induction ceremony.