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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum


Of the many exhibits in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, one in particular captures the democratic nature of rock and roll.  A black leather jumpsuit that Bono of U2 wore on stage is displayed next to Bruce Springsteen's "costume" for his 1984 Born in the U.S.A. tour: a simple short sleeved white T-shirt and a pair of faded blue jeans with ripped knees. Such contrast is at the heart of rock and roll's appeal.  It can be elegant or rough.  Pretentious or plain.  Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.

Located in Cleveland, Ohio where disc jockey Alan Freed coined the phrase "rock and roll," the shrine to the 20th century's most popular musical genre is a tasteful structure designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei.  Inside, it's a scrapbook come to life.  Gold records, guitars, album covers, posters, and personal artifacts of the stars trace the music's history from its roots in rhythm and blues and country to the billion dollar industry it became with the rise of Elvis, the Beatles, and later, Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Currently, the hall is paying tribute to the late John Lennon with "Lennon: His Life and Work".  Most of the artifacts in the exhibit come from the collection of his widow, Yoko Ono.  It includes Lennon's handwritten lyrics, art work, clothing (the coat he wore on the "Sgt. Pepper" cover), and even the bed in which he and Yoko staged their notorious 1969 "bed-in for peace."

The eyeglasses Lennon wore the night of December 8, 1980 when he was slain by a deranged fan is the most controversial item.  Lennon's blood still stains the thick glass in the plastic frames.  Some might criticize this display as tasteless, even ghoulish. Others, including Ono, argue that it's appropriate in light of Lennon's determination to strip away the artifice of celebrity.  The bloody glasses hammer home the reality that Lennon was as human as the rest of us, and that fame offers no protection from mortality.

"Lennon: His Life and Work" will continue to run through until September 2001. If you happen to be in Cleveland, the exhibit, like all of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, is well worth a look.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located at One Key Plaza, Cleveland, Ohio 44114.  It's open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. (and until 9:00 p.m. on Wednesdays).  It's closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.  Admission (subject to change) is $15.00 for adults and $11.50 for seniors and children under 12.

Brian W. Fairbanks
Entertainment Editor