CHICAGO – About one hundred years after “Jelly Roll” Morton left New Orleans and pioneered the Jazz music scene in Chicago, The Chicago Music Hall of Fame has officially been established. Its location will be at 1431 West Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy, currently home to The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame which will consolidate its daily operations and exhibits to the first floor. The CMHOF will be centered on the second floor with food, beverage and entertainment options located throughout the rest of the four-story building.
The Hall of Fame is the brainchild of local concert producer and promoter Ron Onesti, President and CEO of The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, a 900-seat venue with over two hundred-fifty national act concerts annually.
“Chicago has played such a pivotal role in the evolution of popular music in the twentieth century, it is time we recognize the contributions made by those who made Chicago their home,” Onesti said.
“Between the World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to the World’s Fair of 1933, also in Chicago, popular music truly developed as an art form,” Onesti continued. From the Blues that came from the South and migrated to the industrialized city of Chicago, to the Jazz Age that followed the excitement of the ‘Roaring Twenties”, the Big Band era being fostered by Chicago’s own Benny Goodman (Glenn Miller was born in Indiana) and the Garage Rock of the Sixties with The Buckinghams, Ides of March, New Colony Six, Cryan’ Shames, Shadows of Knight, the development of popular music by way of Chicago is almost immeasurable. Add the bands Chicago, Styx, Smashing Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy, Richard Marx, Lou Rawls, Chaka Khan, Chess Records, The International Amphitheatre and on and on, there is so much to feature,” Onesti added.
“Music and Sports have always gone hand-in-hand,” said George Randazzo, President and Founder of The National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, located within the building to house the new CMHOF. “Ron Onesti has been a major supporter of the NIASHF for well over twenty years. To have him adding an entertainment element to our building and to Taylor Street will be a huge boost for us and to the community in general. Our original intention was to create a complete entertainment experience here on Taylor Street and this is the piece of the puzzle that will help accomplish that,” Randazzo said.
“It’s a shame that Chicago does not really have an official home that tells the story of the impact this city has had on the international music scene,” said television and radio personality Bob Sirott. “We are finally going to have a place that will celebrate these contributions, and I am excited to be a part of it!”
Sirott, along with a variety of music industry Chicago natives, will serve on an advisory board to the Hall of Fame. Others include the daughter of Buddy Guy, Carlise Guy, radio and television personalities both past and present, authors, lawyers, producers and music industry professionals with a passion for history, and a love of their home town.
The plan is to include all the stories pertaining to Chicago and its music. “I am not going to ‘induct’ five to ten individuals or groups each year,” said Onesti. I want this to be a living, breathing exhibit from the start. I want as many of the pioneers to be ‘inducted’ right now, not over the next twenty years.”
The plan is to create a presence almost immediately both on line and in the building. There will be promotional and fund raising events, with the completion of the main exhibits within the next twelve months.
The Chicago Music Hall of Fame will be located at 1431 West Taylor Street in Chicago. More info will be available at www.chicagomusichalloffame.org.