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Legends of Rock

Highlight artifacts from a range of Hall of Fame Inductees, including The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Guns 'n Roses, The Supremes, Michael Jackson, David Bowie and others.

ON DISPLAY

Get up close and personal with some of your favorite Inductees and the stories behind the music they created.

Rock and roll is as much about the spectacle, the visual, as it as the sonic—we remember Bowie’s character Ziggy Stardust as much as we do the lyrics to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” Michael Jackson’s moonwalk as much as the bassline of “Billie Jean.”

Conceived in tandem with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Legends of Rock began as Rock Style, an exhibit on rock and roll’s trendsetting role in the fashion industry. The exhibit premiered at the Met on December 9, 1999 before moving to the Rock Hall and London’s Barbican Centre. There’s a reason it was chosen to close out the millennium—this exhibit captures the most iconic moments in rock history.

When rock & roll burst onto the scene in the mid-1950s, its impact was immediate and explosive. More than a musical sensation, rock & roll was a social and generational phenomenon that became one of the most important artistic movements of the twentieth century. Its seismic influence reverberates across society, impacting how we think about fashion, youth culture, dance, race, sexuality and free speech. It has become a way of life; one that thrives today. The diverse representation of artists in this exhibition are exemplary of rock’s enduring power to connect us all.  

Ranging from rhythm & blues, jazz, and folk rock to heavy metal and hip-hop, this exhibition represents a myriad of musical genres and highlights some of the world’s most iconic acts both past and present.  

Many of the artifacts have since found a permanent residence at the Rock Hall in Legends of Rock, which expands on the original concept to include artifacts from artists’ lives, performances and songwriting processes: handwritten drafts of hit singles, instruments used in concert and strangely enough, more than one rocker’s personalized pinball machine.

The Ramp

 

The Ramp area consists of artifacts displayed in open-air cases on, you guessed it, a ramp.

Rapper's Delight

 

Not since the early days of rock & roll has an African American-driven cultural art taken such a strong hold of mainstream American society as hip-hop. From Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five to Jay Z and beyond, explore the movement that has taken the world by storm.

The Beatles & The Rolling Stones

 

The two biggest bands to come out of the British Invasion exist harmoniously in an extension of the Legends of Rock exhibit. Find iconic Beatles instruments and artifacts from their days in the Cavern Club through their solo careers and show off your best moves like Mick Jagger in front of an amazing collection of stage outfits and posters from the Rolling Stones.

Legends of Rock Continued

 

Eras collide in the final Legends of Rock Gallery on Level 0 from the psychedelic sounds of Jimi Hendrix and The Doors to the political commentary of U2 and Public Enemy.

Level 4

 

High above the museum lobby floats Prince’s Cloud #2 Blue Angel Electric Guitar, created for and used throughout the Purple Rain tour and Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Level 5

 

A spiritual successor to Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock, Level 5 dedicates a whole floor to the various genres under the umbrella we call rock & roll. The space also spotlights past nominees such as Dave Mathews Band and Pat Benetar, potential future nominees such as Cher, Rory Gallagher, and Jethro Tull as well as younger acts such as Christina Aguilera, Panic! At The Disco, and Fall Out Boy.

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