Did You Know Michigan Has Its Own Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
Officially known as the 'Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame', the longtime website now has a real, brick-and-mortar location. Let's take a tour...
The 'Michigan Rock and Roll Legends' Began As A Web Site
While researching Michigan music for a book on the topic, Gary 'Dr. J' Johnson was stunned to learn that such a place didn't already exist, so he made a proposal to create such a place in Bay City. When that got shot down, he made it a website and inducted his first class of 17 artists into the Hall back in 2005.
He named it 'Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame' to avoid a potential law suit from the actual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
The Fans of Michigan Music Do The Voting
According to Johnson's website, the initial vote of the Michigan Rock Hall was done by the knowledgeable patrons who attended Dr. J's music trivia contests in Bay City, but in 2008 that was expanded to an online vote of fans state wide.
The vote was open to anyone who is interested in Michigan Rock and Roll music. In 2012 an automated voting system was installed to tabulate the votes. The top 3 vote-getters among the eligible Michigan artists and the top 5 songs on the internet ballots gained induction each year.
So far 120 Michigan rockers and musicians have been voted into the Hall, and 150 songs have been voted Legendary Michigan Songs.
Johnson's Dream Has Become A Reality
Since its inception the Michigan Rock Hall has sought out an actual physical, brick-and-mortar Hall of Fame that people could visit. He thought is hometown of Bay City was the perfect place for a couple of reasons.
First, it was the birthplace of one of the biggest selling Michigan artists, Madonna. And second, it was the place where one of the greatest garage rock songs of all time, '96 Tears' was recorded by Question Mark and the Mysterians. (A song that has a special place in my heart, because Question Mark aka Rudy Martinez and guitarist Bobby Balderrama lived in my East Side Saginaw neighborhood.)
On March 12, that dream of became a reality when the DeMara Gallery on the second floor of the Historical Museum of Bay County became the official home of the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. The museum is located at 321 Washington Avenue in Bay City.
The Michigan Rock Hall also has a collection of Michigan music memorabilia at Scotty's Sandbar, 1201 Evergreen Drive on Bay City's Middle Ground.
Motown and Early 'Garage Rock' Roots
The one thing Dr. J has stressed in the formation of the Michigan Rock Hall is how our state became the breeding ground for the roots of both rhythm and blues music, and home grown garage rock, both owing the debt to the melting pot of cultures that occurred in Detroit.
Because of the auto plants and the industries that grew around them, Metropolitan Detroit and the large cities to the north and west became melting pots of cultural diversity. The people who came to live and work in these municipalities brought a variety of musical styles including Blues, Country, Gospel, Folk, and Latin. These were blended with R&B, Jazz, and Pop into a kind of cross-cultural musical stew that evolved into the very distinct style of Rock and Roll found in Michigan.
To be fortunate to have heard and seen that rise of those differing musical styles here is one of the blessings I count about my childhood. Music was a way of life in my neighborhood, it bridged our differences and became our common language.
I also feel honored that Dr. J acknowledged some of the great radio personalities like Bob Dyer and Dick Fabian that fueled our passion for music.
There all here in the Michigan Rock Hall: Terrible Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, the MC5, Eminem, Terry Knight, the Funk Brothers, Kid Rock, Marvin Gaye, Iggy, Grand Funk Railroad and the Supremes.
West Michigan is well represented with Grand Rapids Al Green in the Hall, as well as Copoersville's Del Shannon among others.
And the list of Legendary Michigan Songs may surprise you, as well as bring back some great memories.
Take a walk down memory lane at the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame website.
Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Famers