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The Musicians Hall of Fame at Historic Nashville Auditorium honors the artists and session musicians who have accompanied legendary performers in a broad range of musical genres, including country, rock, jazz and soul. Honorees include groups like the A-Team, Booker T and the MGs, the Memphis Boys and Toto. These versatile performers provided background music during recording sessions for numerous hit records. The museum’s galleries and artifacts commemorate these talented musicians along with the unique sounds emanating from cities like Nashville, Detroit, Muscle Shoals, Memphis and Los Angeles.
Founded by songwriter Joe Chambers, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 2006. The expansive multi–million-dollar complex honors the talented behind-the-scenes individuals who provided the background music and vocals to some of the greatest recordings of all time. The hall recognizes performers from all types of musical genres, including country, rock, soul, jazz and religious. Oftentimes, these artists were the house musicians from recording studios that created the distinctive sounds from places like Detroit, Memphis and Muscle Shoals. These unsung musicians were instrumental in many of the greatest hits from the 1950s until the 1980s.
To make room for the Music City Center, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum was relocated to the historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium in 2010. In addition to the 10,000-seat performing arts venue, the facility boasts a 68,000-square-foot exhibition space that now houses the galleries and displays of the Hall of Fame. Once a year, the museum hosts a gala that features the induction of new members into the Hall of Fame.
Must See Exhibits
A premiere Nashville attraction, the museum features exhibits dedicated to various cities around the country noted for their unique sound and contribution to music. These include Detroit, Nashville and Muscle Shoals as well as Memphis, Los Angeles and New York. The museum honors studio musicians like the A Team, the Memphis Boys and the Swampers along with the Funk Brothers and the Wrecking Crew. The institution also commemorates studio groups that have gone on to become headline acts like Toto and Booker T and the MGs. From the 1950s onward, these groups performed on more than 80 percent of the songs recorded in these musical hot spots.
Items on display include recording industry artifacts and memorabilia from the decades since the 1950s. Of special interest is the collection of session musical instruments used to record many classic hits. A unique item on display in the museum is a Wm. Knabe and Co. baby grand piano that was used by John Lennon and Elton John to compose the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Elton John also used the piano to record “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Michael Jackson used the instrument while composing and recording numerous songs as well. There is also an exhibit dedicated to Roy Orbison that includes a pair of his signature sunglasses, musical instruments and other memorabilia associated with his stellar career.
The Grammy Gallery is an interactive exhibit that allows guests to explore the history of the prestigious award, step on center stage and experience every aspect of the recording process. Aspiring artists and music lovers can don headphones, play a variety of instruments and sing background vocals to numerous award-winning hits. There are also exhibits highlighting the rehearsal, sound recording and editing processes.
Know Before You Go
The Hall of Fame and Museum is located on the first floor of the historic Nashville Municipal Auditorium. The entrance is on Musicians Way. The Hall of Fame is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Students, seniors, military and police receive a discount off the general admission price. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Paid parking is available in garages and at surface lots that are situated near the museum.
Leave the kids, kick back, and cruise through Music City enjoying scenic nighttime views and classic Nashville tunes. On this tour, you’ll not only be taken to popular points of interest, including the Musicians Hall of Fame, but talented guides will dazzle you with their musical talents and extensive historical knowledge of the city. During the tour, you’ll stop at a world-famous honky tonk and enjoy a drink with new friends. It’s a perfect choice for date night or a group outing and a definite must-do when in Nashville!
After touring the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, head over to First Tennessee Park to enjoy an evening of minor league baseball. Home to the Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, the 10,000-seat stadium features a state-of-the-art LED guitar-shaped scoreboard.
Another nearby attraction is the Tennessee State Capitol. Opening in 1859, the Greek Revival-style building contains numerous works of art, historic murals and massive chandeliers. The grounds are the setting for several monuments and memorials as well as the tomb of President James K. Polk and his wife Sarah.
The 19-acre Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park is a lasting memorial to the Volunteer State’s 200th anniversary. The park features a variety of monuments, displays and exhibits that chronicle the history, culture and natural wonders of Tennessee.
The exhibits of the Tennessee State Museum invite visitors to explore the fascinating history of the Volunteer State. Encompassing 60,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibits, the institution chronicles the cultural heritage of the state from the pre-Colonial era to the 20th century.