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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame unveils Top 10 music festival performance of all-time

“Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience” opens Friday, April 25, 2014.
“Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience” opens Friday, April 25, 2014.
Mark Horning

As part of the pre-exhibit fanfare, music fans from around the world were given the opportunity to vote from a list of 20 great performances in order to decide the top ten music festival performances of all time. The votes are in and the top ten will be presented as a video montage at the entrance to the museum’s featured exhibit “Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience” which opens Friday, April 25, 2014.

By popular vote, the Top 10 music festival performances of all time are

1 - Jimi Hendrix Experience | Monterey International Pop Music Festival (1967) A legendary debut as the most incendiary group in rock and roll.

2 - Big Brother and the Holding Company | Monterey International Pop Music Festival (1967) Power, energy and an awe-struck crowd: meet Janis Joplin.

3 - Queen | Live Aid (1985) Stealing the show at arguably the greatest live concert ever staged.

4 - Santana | Woodstock Music & Art Fair (1969) A singular performance that introduced a new sound to rock music.

5 - Bob Dylan | Newport Folk Festival (1965) Three songs that changed the course of popular music forever.

6 - Otis Redding | Monterey International Pop Music Festival (1967) A breakthrough performance in the truest sense.

7 - Nine Inch Nails | Woodstock Music & Art Fair (1994) Catapulted to mainstream with mud, industrial music and a truly mesmerizing moment.

8 - Sly and the Family Stone | Woodstock Music & Art Fair (1969) Channeling the Woodstock spirit and rewriting the book on performance.

9 - U2 | Live Aid (1985) An artist creates intimacy in the least intimate circumstances and makes an indelible connection.

10 - Muddy Waters | Newport Jazz Festival (1960) How the blues was masterfully delivered to a new audience.

Top 10 music festival performances video link:

About the new exhibit

The new exhibit takes up two floors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and virtually surrounds visitors with the total music festival experience with the sights and sounds. The exhibit utilizes video and sound from iconic festivals of the past including Newport, Monterey, Woodstock, Wattstax and more as well as current festivals that are happening right now such as Coachella, Bonnaroo and Glastonbury. The exhibit is a true “you are there” experience with floor to ceiling photos of festival fans that invite you to examine and interpret the true “fan experience”.

Along with music and crowd noise filling the space, there will be weather, bands tuning up, people talking, radio ads and news reports. This exhibit is much more than a museum walk through piece. It is the chance to become part of the outdoor music community while participating in a social event as well as being a part of the creative process. Another part of the exhibit experience will be on going as fans the world over flock to music festivals and share tagged images of the vibrant and diverse sights that surround them. These images will be captured and shared on large monitors on the fourth floor near the entrance of the museum.

On the first level you will experience the fast paced history of the popular music festivals with photographs, artifacts and short films.

• Birth of the Modern Festival (From Spirituals to Swing, the Newport Festivals)

• Youth Quake (Monterey Pop, Woodstock, Isle of Wight)

• Festivals with a Purpose (Live Aid, Wattstax, Soul to Soul)

• Europe (Glastonbury, Roskilde, Pink Pop)

• Modern Destination Festival (Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Coachella)

• Electronic Dance Music (Electric Daisy Carnival, Tomorrowland, Creamfields)

On the second level you will find yourself in an immersive experience that is designed to put you right square in the center of the festival experience. It will represent a performance tent at a festival and will feature a 20 minute film representing a fast forward day of the festival told through cinematic mish-mash of performances, sights, sounds, words and communal energy taken from festivals over the past seven decades. As you experience the sights, the main screen will show synchronized images and lighting that evoke day turning into dusk and night.

The Common Ground exhibit will close on January 31, 2015.

About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. is the nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music. It carries out this mission through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives as well as its educational activities. For more information, visit

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