January 23, 1986: First Inductees into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

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A Brief History

On January 23, 1986, the first musicians were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Digging Deeper

Digging deeper, we find these inductees are largely responsible for the widespread acceptance of “rock and roll” as a mainstream musical genre.

The first class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a great one indeed and included: Elvis Presley; Buddy Holly; Jerry Lee Lewis; James Brown; Chuck Berry; The Everly Brothers; Sam Cooke; Ray Charles; Little Richard; and Fats Domino.

Other inductees voted in for their early influences on rock and roll were: Jimmy Rodgers; Jimmy Yancey; and Robert Johnson, with Alan Freed and Sam Phillips entered with the inaugural class as non-performers.

As Alan Freed had coined the phrase “rock and roll” and was instrumental in its propagation, as well as for organizing The Moondog Coronation Ball, the first big time rock and roll concert with Cleveland, Ohio as its location, it was not surprising when in 1986, the Hall of Fame Foundation chose Cleveland to be the site of the actual museum housing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It did not hurt that a USA Today national poll had chosen Cleveland as well.

The first several induction ceremonies (which take place every year) were held in New York City as the building in Cleveland would not be ready until 1995.  Since then, inductions have taken place in Cleveland, New York and Los Angeles.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located in downtown Cleveland very near the Great Lakes Science Center as well as the major league baseball, football and basketball stadiums. Other nearby attractions include the USS Cod submarine from World War II and the SS William H. Mather, a retired great lakes cargo ship/museum.  Popular shopping areas in the vicinity are the Gateway and Galleria.

Around Labor Day, an air show and grand prix auto race are also held at Burke Lakefront Airport.

Along with performers and other contributors to rock and roll, 600 songs are enshrined as having been particularly influential (“The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”), too many to list here!  Seven floors of exhibits and performances by inductees are just part of the multi-faceted agenda of the Hall.

The best way to learn more about the people and events in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to go there, spend the day and ROCK ON!

Question for students (and subscribers): Who is your favorite inductee in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, please see…

The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concerts.   Time Life, 2010.  CD.

The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concerts.  Time Life, 2010.  Blu-ray.

Various, dir.  ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME LIVE.  Time Life, 2009.  DVD.


About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.