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The 13 Coolest Things at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Picture of Laura Dorwart
Updated: 1 May 2018
The Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has been one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions since it opened in 1995. Thousands of artifacts and memorabilia, from awards to costumes, guitars, posters, lyrics, and record art, tell the story of rock and roll in the Hall of Fame’s seven sprawling floors. Let’s take a look at 13 of the coolest things you can find at the Cleveland museum.

Michael Jackson’s Grammy Award for “Thriller”

The King of Pop famously won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards for his album Thriller in 1984. You can see his “Album of the Year” Grammy from that year on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside shoes he used to moonwalk in and memorabilia from his early days in the Jackson 5.

Elvis Presley’s military uniform

Elvis Presley broke many a heart when he was drafted into the United States Army in 1958, ultimately becoming a sergeant. His fatigues and induction orders are both on display, along with a photo of him wearing his newly-minted sergeant stripes, in the massive collection devoted to him at the Hall of Fame.

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© Sam Howzit / Flickr | Sam Howzit

Public Enemy’s original artwork

Hip-hop legends Public Enemy came together in 1986 on Long Island, when Chuck D and Flavor Flav were students together at Adelphi University. They became one of the most influential hip-hop groups in history, best known for their incisive political lyrics. Their original album artwork and logo are on display in sketch format in Cleveland.

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© swimfinfan / Flickr | swimfinfan

David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust outfits

English glam rock legend David Bowie made a big splash, and achieved cult status, in part through his flamboyant alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Ziggy’s outfits, several of which are now on display at the museum, were always colorful, dramatic, ultra-theatrical, and often decked out in rhinestones.

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© Sam Howzit / Flickr | Sam Howzit

John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper costume

The Beatles decked themselves out in psychedelic, neon satin suits—parodies of military uniforms—for Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band, released at the start of 1967, the Summer of Love. You can visit the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to take a peek at John Lennon’s famous yellow/lime-green Sgt. Pepper costume.

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© Sam Howzit / Flickr | Sam Howzit

Johnny Cash’s guitar

Johnny Cash broke records and bent genres, taking on country, rock, and blues alike and ultimately becoming one of the world’s best-selling musicians in history. His 1943 Martin guitar and suit are on display in his collection in Cleveland.

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© Sam Howzit / Flickr | Sam Howzit

Jimi Hendrix’s Stratocaster

Jimi Hendrix had a brief but legendary career as one of the greatest electric guitarists of all time. He popularized the Fender Stratocaster, one of which you can see along with his other guitars and costumes, and which he first bought with a girlfriend’s loaned money.

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© swimfinfan / Flickr | swimfinfan

Mike D. of the Beastie Boys’ gloves and goggles

The Beastie Boys, an acclaimed 1980s hip-hop group, won a Grammy for “Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group” and an MTV Music Video Award for “Best Hip-Hop Video” in 1999 for their song “Intergalactic.” Michael “Mike D” Diamond famously donned yellow gloves and goggles for the video, now in the Beastie Boys collection in Cleveland.

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© swimfinfan / Flickr | swimfinfan

CBGB’s awning

CBGB was one of the world’s most famous punk bars and a New York City music legend. The bar ultimately closed in 2006, but its iconic awning was donated to the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where it stands today.

Kurt Cobain’s death certificate

Lead Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, at age 27, and was found in his home in Seattle, Washington. His death was a national tragedy, sparking a media frenzy, particularly due to his legendary musical fame. His official death certificate is housed at the Cleveland Hall of Fame.

The Clash’s handwritten lyrics

British punk rock band The Clash was popularly dubbed “The Only Band That Matters” for their contribution to musical history and the development of the punk genre. Handwritten lyrics for their songs “London Calling,” “Clampdown,” and “Know Your Rights” can be viewed at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Weezer’s flying W

Alternative rock band Weezer is perhaps best known by its logo, the flying W, first designed by the band’s drummer, Patrick Wilson. Fans flashed “flying W” signs during Weezer shows, and a lightbulb-lined W was regularly flown at Weezer shows. One of these rigs is now flying from the ceiling of the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

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© Sam Howzit / Flickr | Sam Howzit

Wall-to-wall 50th anniversary Rolling Stone covers

The Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame laid out all 50 years of Rolling Stone covers for a wall-to-wall special exhibit honoring the magazine’s 50th anniversary in 2017.

#rockandrollhalloffame. Rolling Stone mag 50th display

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