The new exhibition Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll opens publicly at The Met in New York on April 8. A collaboration with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the show was inspired in part by Brad Tolinski and Alan di Perna’s 2016 book, Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound, Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar.
From Jimmy Page to Steve Miller, the glitterati of rock turned out for the exhibition’s opening bash on April 1. The Roots shook the house with a rousing live performance as the crowd wandered awestruck through a sequence of galleries filled with a holy grail of musical instruments graced by the hands and imaginations of legendary artists spanning the entire rock era—from Chuck Berry, to all four Beatles, to instruments played by contemporary music icons like Lady Gaga and St. Vincent. The show covers the entire span of rock history—Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum kit from the Ed Sullivan Show, Bob Dylan’s Newport Strat, Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Strat, Prince’s Superbowl 2007 symbol guitar and full stage rigs from icons including Jimmy Page and Edward Van Halen.
Jayson Kerr Dobney, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge of the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, collaborated on the show with the Rock Hall’s Curator and Director of Acquisition Craig Inciardi. In his research for the show, Dobney found inspiration in Tolinski and di Perna’s book. Dobney said, “I owe a debt of gratitude to both Play it Loud authors. The book was an inspiration not only in terms of the show’s title, but also in terms of some of the conceptual ideas that we ended up adopting.”
“What we have with the Play It Loud exhibition is the largest concentration of mojo between four walls that the world has ever seen,” commented co-author di Perna. “As a native New Yorker and lifelong rock and roller, it fills me with tremendous pride to have played a small role in this historic exhibition.”
“When Alan and I wrote Play It Loud, the idea was to celebrate the profound cultural significance of the electric guitar. This wonderful exhibition is a triumphant validation of the importance of the instrument and how it has touched the lives of millions,” adds co-author Tolinski.
First published in 2016, Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound, Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar has been called a “fascinating, elegantly written, page turning account,” by best selling author Jonathan Kellerman and “a marvelous survey of how the electric guitar rocked its way into the hearts and minds of millions of music lovers” by historian Douglas Brinkley. “Every guitar player will want to read this book twice,” raved Daniel Levitin in The Wall Street Journal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will offer the book for sale during the exhibit. Find out more about the Play It Loud book at playitloudbook.com.
For more on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Play It Loud exhibition, visit metmuseum.org.