After eating, I had considered just going home but I knew that the Alabama Music Hall of Fame was just right up the road. I decided to stop off to at least see how much it was to get in and look around the lobby. There was a very nice older woman in the lobby who told me the price was $8. She was also relatively vague about how long it would take me to get through it. I decided that it would be worth the time and money.
The first gallery had paintings of each inductee. I didn’t like the style of the paintings but they seemed to serve the purpose and all of them did look like the people that were supposed to be of. This gave me a good introduction to the artists that I would be seeing in the hall. It also helped assure me that I hadn’t wasted $8. The lady from the lobby told me that everyone in the hall had some kind of connection to Alabama. They were either born there, lived there or recorded there. This seemed like it opened the field up to almost anyone but after finding out about the people that are in the fame, it seems like they all had good roots in the state one way or another. This was also the last time I would see anyone while I was on the tour. I didn’t see anyone else until I got to the gift shop at the end of the tour. No employees or people taking the tour.
The exhibits were mainly glass cases filled with memorabilia for each artist. Some people got larger exhibits because they were more high profile artists. Others with large exhibits weren’t as recognizable names but were important as songwriters, producers and performers with strong ties to Muscle Shoals. They were important to the music reputation for the state and usually directly with that area. I was surprised to see the huge exhibit on Sam Phillips of Sun Studios fame. He was from Alabama, but I didn’t expect to see as much equipment from Sun as what they had. It was a larger exhibit and appeared to be some original equipment that Elvis would have been recorded on.
Another thing that I noticed was the type of things they had in the exhibits. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Their exhibits seemed to have more clothes and instruments. This one seemed to have more pictures, album covers and books. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have any instruments or clothes, but it seemed like they didn’t have as much. There were some exhibits on some artists that were relatively big names in the late 60’s and early 70’s who’s material might have consisted of little more than a picture in the corner of one of the longer glass cases. An example of one of these artists was Bobby Goldsboro. At the same time, they had larger areas dedicated to a lady that was a backup singer for several bands that I don’t even remember their names. I think they were just able to get a couple of her outfits so they gave her more room.
There was a section of the museum that was dedicated to blues and jazz artists. I wondered if there was any coincidence that this exhibit was in the back of the museum. That wasn’t the only place where black artists were featured in the Hall, like they were trying to keep most of these artists separate. Lionel Richie and the Commodores had exhibits in the first part of the Hall.
There was a large area dedicated to the recording studios in the Muscle Shoals area. This makes sense since Rick Hill, the founder of FAME studios, is on the board of directors for the Hall. Some of the original equipment from the studios has made its way into this facility. There was also a large are devoted to songwriting. An important part of FAME’s business was publishing. This part of the exhibit helped to show this part of Alabama’s important role in the music business.
I stopped by the gift shop on my way out. Nothing interesting or different there. The lady who had waited on me when I got there was visiting the lady running the gift shop. They directed me to brochures telling about places to stay in the area. I told them I was going home. This would be my last stop. Worth stopping by before going home.
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Click Here to read Part 2.
Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Storyteller