Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Museum Turns 25: Learn It’s Iconic History

By Kelly Fisher

September 2, 2020

Streamers fill the sky over the Rock and Roll Hall

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum has officially been a Cleveland staple for a quarter of a century.

On September 2, 1995, the music history and memorabilia behemoth opened on the Lake Erie coast.

That was the first day the museum opened to the public. It's since drawn more than 13 million guests through its doors, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

Here are some things to know about the museum on its 25th birthday:

  • In 1983, more than a decade before the museum opened, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established with the hope of creating a destination celebrating all things rock.
  • Cleveland “threw its hat into the ring” to be the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in 1985, according to the Hall of Fame.
  • Ultimately, Cleveland beat out the competition from “a number of cities (that) sought the museum,” according to Ohio History Central.
  • One reason could be because a petition garnered more than 600,000 signatures from residents to have the museum in Cleveland, according to the Connection, formerly known as the Ohio Historical Society.
  • Another draw to Cleveland is that it is home to Alan Freed, the radio DJ credited with coining the term “Rock and Roll,” according to Ohio History Central.
  • Plus, the city committed $65 million dollars to the construction of the museum, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland won over New York, San Francisco, Memphis, Chicago and other cities.
  • The museum's groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 7, 1993, and included a star-studded guest list: Pete Townshend of The Who, Chuck Berry, Billy Joel and more. One year later, Jerry Lee Lewis performed when all that was left to finish the building was one steel beam.
  • On its opening day, September 2, 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “celebrated with a blockbuster benefit concert,” featuring James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash and more. Little Richard and Yoko Ono attended the ribbon-cutting, and opening weekend included a parade through downtown Cleveland, according to the Rock Hall.
  • The museum honors Rock and Roll history as well as Hall of Fame inductees in four categories: Performers, Non-Performers, Early Influences and Side-Men. Inductees don’t necessarily have to be performers as long as they’re affiliated with the genre, according to Ohio History Connection. Performers are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first album.
Rolling Stone Magazine publisher Jan Warner (L), Y

Here are the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Here’s the class of 2020, in the performer category:

Olympic Torch Relay X Hall of Fame

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame won’t have the live 35th annual induction ceremony, but will air a virtual ceremony on HBO and HBO Max on November 7 at 8 p.m. The 36th annual ceremony will return to Cleveland in fall 2021, according to the Hall of Fame.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is currently open to visitors holding tickets in advance, which they can purchase online. The Rock Hall is following Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and other recommendations, including by placing hand sanitizing stations in the building, enforcing social distancing, requiring masks and temperature checks upon entry and more.

For more information, go to rockhall.com/coronavirus.

Photos: Getty Images

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