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United States rich with musical streets

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United States rich with musical streets

By Michael Fink

CNN Headline News

Monday, July 5, 2004 Posted: 11:06 AM EDT (1506 GMT)

(CNN) -- Advertising has Madison Avenue. The theatre has Broadway and finance has Wall Street. But it's hard to find one central stretch of road for the music industry. There are, however, certain streets and stretches where music history resides. Here's a quick drive-by of musical hot spots.

Sunset Strip -- For 40 years the Sunset Strip in Hollywood has been the centerpiece of rock and roll excess and dreams. The area gave birth and nurtured bands such as The Doors, Guns and Roses and Motley Crue.

You can still rock out at the strip's most famous nightclubs like the Whisky A Go-Go, The Roxy and the Rainbow Bar & Grill. Newer clubs like The Viper Room keep the strip's rock 'n' roll mystique alive and well.

Nashville's Music Row -- It doesn't have the lights and billboards of Sunset, but 16th Avenue in Nashville is the epicenter of country music. As rock 'n' roll became popular in the 1950s, country's sound was smoothed and softened, thus giving birth to the "Nashville Sound." Recording studios and publishing houses grew along the avenue and still flourish.

Located in the heart of Music Row, RCA Studio-B was the recording home for the likes of Dolly Parton, Elvis and the Everly Brothers. Today it's a classroom for recording technology students and a tour site through the Country Music Hall of Fame. You'll probably run into a country star taking a session break at Sammy B's.

Haight-Ashbury -- When a band called the Warlocks moved to San Francisco near the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, they changed their name to the Grateful Dead. At the same time, they created the center point of counter-culture. Other bands such as the Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company and the Steve Miller Band became associated with the area, as would the hippy movement of the 1960s.

Today it's home to an eclectic collection of bookstores, cafes and restaurants. Despite gentrification, it remains a focal point for alternative lifestyles. You can still see onetime headquarters of the Grateful Dead or the place where Janis Joplin's landlord reportedly evicted her for possession ... of a dog.

Beale Street -- It's said W.C. Handy wrote the first blues song on Beale Street in Memphis in 1909. Nightlife was, at times, a dangerous mix of easy money, seedy characters and booze -- in other words, the atmosphere that gave birth to the blues.

Beale is still an active and vibrant place. All-night partiers, street musicians and entertainers flock to the area and all types of music reverberates from the various bars and restaurants. While there, check out a show at W.C. Handy Park, Rum Boogie Café or B.B. King's Blues Museum.

The Crossroads -- Legend says Robert Johnson went to the crossroads and gave his soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to play guitar. Immortalized in the song "Crossroads," this myth catapulted the popularity of blues and rock 'n' roll.

Some say the crossroads is at the intersection of Highway 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Others say it was on a long-forgotten farm path in a nameless cotton field. But no matter where it was, or if it existed, this intersection has undeniable influence in American music.

The American road is rich with musical influence. If you wish to seek it out, hop into your car, turn on the radio and head toward Highway 61, Route 66 or a million places in between.



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