Nov 1, 2023 - Music

Greatest Cleveland concerts: No. 1 – Concert for the Hall of Fame

Chuck Berry does his iconic duck walk across a stage.

Just let me hear some of that rock 'n' roll music. Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns via Getty

When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame opened in September 1995, it did so not just with the biggest concert in Cleveland history, but with one of the greatest music showcases of all time.

Why it matters: The Sept. 2, 1995, "Concert for the Hall of Fame" featured a who's who of music luminaries in front of 65,000 people at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, cementing Northeast Ohio as the epicenter of rock 'n' roll.

Flashback: After breaking ground on the museum in June 1993, board members from the New York-based Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation began plotting a kickoff event like no other.

  • As construction of the museum neared completion, tickets for the "Concert for the Hall of Fame" went on sale June 24, with prices ranging from $30 to $540. It sold out within days.

Details: The lineup featured more than 25 acts that had already been inducted into the Hall of Fame or would be in the coming years.

  • The show aired live on HBO and lasted nearly seven hours.

What happened: The Rock Hall's first-ever inductee, Chuck Berry, kicked things off with a performance of "Johnny B. Goode."

Meanwhile, contemporary artists paid tributes to their heroes, including Bon Jovi performing Beatles tunes, Melissa Etheridge covering 1960s girl-group classics and Sheryl Crow delivering The Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed."

Between the lines: The most active musician during the night was Bruce Springsteen, who performed his own hits as well as classic songs by the likes of Bo Diddley and Big Joe Turner.

  • The Boss also joined Jerry Lee Lewis and surprise guest Bob Dylan for their sets, before closing things out alongside Berry on "Rock & Roll Music."

The intrigue: Following a performance of "Darkness on the Edge of Town," a fan jumped on stage before being removed by security.

What they said: Springsteen summed up the spirit of the night by simply proclaiming, "That's rock 'n' roll!"

The bottom line: The concert, which ran from 7:30pm to 2:10am, has been immortalized in retellings and condensed YouTube videos.

  • It's a testament to the power of rock 'n' roll and Cleveland's place in its rich history.

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