With a major sports championship now in hand, the Rock and Roll Capital of the World gets a chance to celebrate!
As much as he was derided by NBA fans across America for his decision to leave Cleveland six years ago and “take his talents to Miami,” the NBA’s legendary superstar and reigning Finals MVP LeBron James is now being celebrated for doing the unimaginable: bringing a championship to the city that rocks!
Yes, Cleveland, you now have a championship to call your own for the first time in 52 years!
To put this in perspective, the last time that happened, the Cavaliers Cavaliers didn’t even exist (they began as an NBA expansion team in 1970). Heck, the major team sports’ championship of championships, NFL football’s Super Bowl, didn’t even yet exist as the NFL/AFL merger wouldn’t be completed for another half-decade (although Super Bowl I – in 1967 – was so named in retrospect).
The NFL’s Browns, which was previously Cleveland’s last winning franchise, won the city’s last championship in 1964 – with the legendary Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown leading the way.
In the decades since then, things got so bad for C-Town that its storied pro football franchise left the city in 1996 to become the Baltimore Ravens, and the NFL team that’s there now are the newer expansion Cleveland Browns, which since its inception in 1999 has been one of the NFL’s least-winning franchises.
But now Cleveland is the toast of the country, thanks to a LeBron James NBA Finals performance for the ages. And it’s not even over yet for “The Land.”
The city will be celebrating its new champions with a downtown parade on Wednesday, June 22, at which hero LeBron James will surely be the toast of the town.
And next month, all eyes will be on Cleveland again as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will be officially named so at the Republican Convention there – at the same venue where the Cavaliers won two of its four games en route to its championship – the Quicken Loans Arena. Trump is hoping that “the Q” will launch him to an unlikely presidential election (at least it was thought to be unlikely a year ago), just as it helped launch the Cavs to their first-ever title on Father’s Day.
That arena is located just over a mile down E. 9th St from another famous Cleveland venue, which itself didn’t yet exist in 1964, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland was chosen as the Rock Hall’s home in 1986 because of the city’s importance in breaking rock and roll musicians nationally and because of historic figures like famed local disc jockey Alan Freed who was instrumental in bridging the early gap between black musicians and white listeners and record buyers…essentially birthing rock and roll in the process.
It is with Freed’s unifying crossover spirit that I have similarly loved music for all my 50 years on this planet (I, too, wasn’t alive when Cleveland won its previous pro team sports championship). And it is with that spirit that I join in celebrating Cleveland’s latest crowning moment by shining a spotlight on that great city’s most noteworthy exports: its musicians.
As this is a music blog site, I’ve created a djroblist of Cleveland’s 15 Greatest Musical Artists.
This djroblist ranks the fifteen most successful artists to come out of Cleveland and make it on the national music scene. The ranking is based on my approximation of each artist’s national success according to performance on Billboard’s pop, rock and/or R&B record charts and recognition by noted authorities (like NARAS, the Rock Hall, etc.).
Some artists are jointly listed with bands they either led or were significant contributors to if those bands also hailed from Cleveland or any of its nearby suburbs. And like the vision of the late Alan Freed, this list covers many genres including rock, pop, R&B, hip-hop, folk, adult contemporary and metal.
So congratulations Clevelanders on your new NBA Championship! And here are your top fifteen favorite musical sons and daughters that have made names for themselves nationally for us all to enjoy:
Is it possible to be a one-hit wonder twice? Clevelander Benny Mardones proved it so when his one hit, the classic power ballad "Into The Night," hit the top-20 twice - nine years apart. The song was first a #11 hit in 1980, then charted again in '89, peaking at #20. Mardones had no intervening hits and none after the song's last run.
To hear songs from all fifteen artists featured on this ranking, click here (link to be activated Thursday, June 22).