This Day In Rock Music History: May 5, 1986 – The Rock ‘N Roll Hall Of Fame Begins

May 5th, 1986, was the day that music fans finally found out where The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame would be located, and 1986 was also the first year of inductions. This was back when actual Rock acts were still voted in, but we’ll get into that later in this, the newest edition of our This Day In Rock And Roll History series.

About The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Ahmet Ertegun founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation on April 20, 1983. Ahmet was also the founder/chairman of Atlantic Records and had gathered a core group to assist him in his endeavors. This list included the publisher of Rolling Stone Magazine, Jann S. Wenner, record company executives Seymour Stein, Bob Krasnow, and Noreen Woods, and attorneys Allen Grubman and Suzan Evans.

1986 was their first year of inductions, but there was still no “home” for a physical building to honor the musicians and house exhibits. The Foundation had been looking into several sites, with cities like Philadelphia, Memphis, Cincinnati, Detroit, NYC, and Cleveland all being considered. According to Wikipedia:

“Cleveland lobbied for the museum, with civic leaders pledging $65 million in public money to fund the construction, and citing that WJW disc jockey Alan Freed both coined the term “rock and roll” and heavily promoted the new genre—and that Cleveland was the location of Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball, often credited as the first major rock and roll concert. Freed was also a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of inductees.”

This made Cleveland sound like the obvious choice regarding its history and financial gains. Apparently, the Foundation felt the same way because, on May 5th, 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame chairman/founder announced that Cleveland, Ohio, had been chosen as the city they would call home.

Recent Controversy About Inductee Choices

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is particularly true during the yearly announcement of inductees. Fans and artists both tend to believe that the Foundations picks don’t adequately represent the Rock genre, snubbing artists who truly belong in the Hall. These fans voice their concerns loudly, as most feel that the Hall was created solely for Rock music and its many sub-genres, which I tend to agree with.

For example, the Hall has inducted non-Rock artists like Dolly Parton, Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, Donna Summer, Madonna, and more on a list that goes on and on and on. My musical biases tend to agree with the people who find this to be a distortion of what this Foundation claims to represent. How are the artists that I mentioned inducted, but different from the likes of Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Gregg Allman, Bad Company, and Bachman Turner Overdrive? This list also goes on and on and on. 2023 will see the same backlash, as will every year going forward.

Final Thoughts

Despite any ongoing controversy, May 5th, 1986, was as historic for Rock And Roll as the artists inducted into it during the Hall’s glory days. The building itself houses pieces by many of the genre’s best artists, and if I’m being realistic, we should be happy that such a place exists in the first place. Where else can we go and see exhibits of the things that our favorite artists have used during their careers?  This alone makes The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame a cornerstone of Rock preservation.

This article was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now-defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

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