9 Artifacts from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's First Class
On January 23, 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first 10 performers at a ceremony held at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The Rock Hall hadn’t settled on its Cleveland home yet and was then just a glint in the eyes of a prominent record executive and his friends. Since then, each winter has brought a new class of inductees (performers are eligible 25 years after their first record). But that first group of ten performers inducted in 1986 are universally recognized as architects of soul and rock. Here are some of the items the Rock Hall has collected associated with them.
1. ELVIS'S MOTORCYCLE
The King was a gigantic figure in rock and roll and a prolific amasser of stuff, so the Rock Hall has displayed boatloads of Elvis outfits, vehicles, instruments and jewelry in both permanent displays and temporary exhibits. It currently totes this tricked-out, three-wheeled motorcycle Elvis purchased in 1975, on loan from Graceland.
2. JAMES BROWN'S EVOCATIVE JUMPSUITS
The Rock Hall has a collection of Soul Brother Number One’s jumpsuits, including one with a belt buckle that sums up his message in three letters: "SEX."
3. BUDDY HOLLY AND THE CRICKETS' GRAY SUITS
Texas-born geek god Buddy Holly outfitted himself and his backing band, the Crickets, in matching gray suits, which are on display in Cleveland. It was one of many of the band's hallmarks that influenced The Beatles.
4. CHUCK BERRY'S BRANDY OUTFIT
The Rock Hall has displayed a few program notes and guitars from Berry, arguably the original rock and roller. It has also exhibited this garnish orange suit Berry wore in a 1986 brandy advertisement.
5. A JAM-PACKED RAY CHARLES PLAYBILL
In this video, curator Howard Kramer shows off a 1960 playbill for the genius of Georgia, which also includes appearances by subsequent inductees Ruth Brown and The Coasters.
6. THE EVERLY BROTHERS' REPORT CARDS
The Rock Hall managed to score school report cards from the pomade-dipped, rhythmic siblings. The guys who seemed so concerned about their reputations in “Wake Up, Little Susie” scored solid As and Bs.
7. LITTLE RICHARD'S GLITTERY JUMPSUIT
Richard Penniman’s fashion sense bordered on the wonderfully absurd, as demonstrated by this orange, open-necked, bell-bottomed jumpsuit.
8. SAM COOKE'S CAMERA
The exemplar soul singer’s personal photo camera is on display at the museum. The events of “Twistin’ the Night Away” would have made for a hell of a series of Instagram posts.
9. FATS DOMINO'S LOUD SMOKING JACKET
The Rock Hall has the “Blueberry Hill” singer/pianist’s golden-colored smoking jacket.
Of note, The Hall’s website doesn’t list any items for Jerry Lee Lewis, the tenth inaugural inductee. Given his frenetic energy and penchant for self-destruction, perhaps he wrecked everything he could have donated?