They don’t let you take photos inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, except in the atrium on the first floor. I suppose that, and the exorbitant price of sodas ($3.75 for a bottle of orange Crush!) (Yes, I felt violated in unspeakable ways) in the snack bar, would offer support to the haters’ argument that it’s all corporate and shiny and the antithesis of what rock n’ roll is supposed to be.
And that’s fair enough, I suppose. But:
a) It was always a business. Always about profits. That’s why it’s called the music industry and not the music kittens and rainbows.
b) Preservation is important, and this beats the hell out of having the Sergeant Pepper suits, for example, end up in the Hard Rock Cafe in Des Moines. Or having the CBGB awning end up in a landfill in Newark.
So it’s worth your time to take the trek across all the farmland that surrounds Cleveland.
But they don’t allow photos of the really good stuff, like Jim Morrison’s report cards from school, or Chrissie Hynde’s t-shirt from gym class, or Elvis’s jumpsuit or Jimi Hendrix’s drawings of football players, or any of the hundreds of guitars and pages of handwritten lyrics on display.
I can’t show you the Beatles’ papers dissolving the band and their business relationship, even though it led me to speculate whether seeing my own parents’ divorce papers would make me equally distraught. My conclusion: probably not.
What I do have is a photo of the Jaguar Joan Jett bought with one of her first checks from The Runaways. She drove it off the lot with only her learner’s permit and used to go cruising around with Matt Dillon. That’s Alex Van Halen’s drum kit beside it.
The tour bus belonged to Johnny Cash, who didn’t wear guyliner that I know of, but he had a guitar that I couldn’t photograph.
I may have also taken an illicit photo of a guitar played by one of my favorite musicians ever on one of the greatest albums ever made. I may have done this in a deserted hallway while no one was looking under the pretense that I was texting The Kiwi at the time. Or I may be making up the whole story to appear to be more of a badass than I really am. I’ll never tell– on account of I don’t want to get sued by a major corporation.