NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Rock stars, country stars and even songwriters have their own halls of fame. Now their backing musicians are getting into the act, too.
The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum opened Friday and honors those who have played and recorded with stars of all stripes, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Stevie Wonder to Hank Williams.
Located in an old warehouse just south of the city's honky-tonk district, the hall is the brainchild of Joe Chambers, a Nashville songwriter and guitar store owner.
Chambers said the musicians who help create some of the most memorable recordings in popular music often get overlooked.
"I think the public hasn't been given the information or the opportunity to know who is playing on a lot of those records," Chambers said.
They certainly have it now. Instruments, photos, movies, recordings and other artifacts tell the story of session players and touring musicians, whether in Detroit, New York, Memphis, Los Angeles, Nashville or Muscle Shoals, Ala.
That weepy steel guitar on Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay"? The late session ace Pete Drake. The funky beat on the Chili Peppers' "Give It Away"? The band's drummer Chad Smith, who has worked with many other acts in the studio. The alternating bass line on Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart"? Floyd "Lightnin'" Chance. The list goes on and on.
There are displays dedicated to legendary producers such as Owen Bradley (Patsy Cline's "Crazy," Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter") and Billy Sherrill (Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man," Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors") and to the studios where many of these classic song were recorded.
"It means a lot obviously to the families and to anyone who stood in the shadow for so long," Chamber said of the opening. "The way the museum is set up, everyone from grandparents to their grandkids can come and find somebody they're interested in."
Several new members will be inducted into the hall each year, with other musicians - rather than industry executives - voting on the nominees.
Besides the museum, the 30,000-square-foot complex also includes a performance hall where a jam session was scheduled for Friday evening and a screening theater where a film with Jimi Hendrix was playing. A fully operational recording studio is in the works. A music school associated with the museum is already open, as well as a gift shop.
A promotional video features remarks by performers such as Neil Young and Garth Brooks, with Young perhaps putting it best: "You can see the hood ornament on the car if you go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but if you want to look at the engine and see what's making it go, then you go to the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum."
On the Net:
Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum: http://www.musicianshalloffame.com/
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