top of page

Cleveland: The Rock & Roll Capital of the World

There’s nothing quite so American as Rock ‘n Roll. In 1983, prominent members of the music industry decided to forever memorialize our musical gift to the world by creating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Among them were Jann Wenner, co-founder of “Rolling Stone” magazine, and Ahmet Ertugan, the father of iconic Atlantic Records. When it came time for the foundation to build the museum, many great cities were considered. The Windy City was one option, being immortalized in 12 bars in “Sweet Home Chicago” by Robert Johnson in 1936, and subsequently covered by everyone from Clapton to the Blues Brothers. New York City was also considered, home to the legendary Café Wha, where Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Jimi Hendrix all got their starts. What about San Francisco, home of The Grateful Dead, whose Haight-Asbury district was the epicenter of the counterculture movement? 

But in the end, Cleveland emerged victorious. Cleveland, home to local disc jockey Alan Freed’s WJW program “The Moondog House,” on which, in the early 50’s, rock ‘n roll was first played and popularized. Cleveland, the city where Alan Freed invented the very term rock ‘n roll, and where he organized the Moondog Coronation Ball, a five-act concert now recognized as the first ever rock ‘n roll show, where the old Cleveland Arena attracted so many fans it had to be shut down. From its infancy as a genre, Cleveland has been the rock ‘n roll town. The choice was clear. Out of a nation of locations from which to choose, the museum was to be proudly built on the shores of Lake Erie. A petition with over 600,000 signatures to put it here also didn’t hurt, showing once again that, as a city, we’ve always been representing our home as a true contender, worthy of whatever prize was to be won.

Today, having a 199 million dollar impact on the city, with nearly 568,000 annual visitors, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a proud staple of our hometown. 

bottom of page