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10 Stops On The Great American Rock and Roll Road Trip

Anyone who's ever taken a road trip knows the importance of the sacred road trip playlist. When you're on the road for so many hours a day, you've got to find the perfect driving music to keep you entertained. But have you ever thought of building your ideal road trip based off your playlist?

There are thousands of cars full of friends that set out on road trips across the wild American continent, so why not take to its vast and legendary highway systems while celebrating one of its most famous contributions to music: rock and roll.

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10 Cafe Wha?, New York City, New York

New York City has no shortage of rock landmarks, so while you're here, you could tick off a number of places, but the first should no doubt be Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. This unassuming basement club is known for kicking off the careers of countless musicians.

Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, and The Velvet Underground are among the artists who played here before they became famous. Chas Chandler, the original bassist for The Animals, saw a young Hendrix play here in 1966 and drove him to stardom after becoming his manager.

9 Woodstock Museum, Bethel Woods, New York

Woodstock is long over, and while we will always have massive music festivals, none will be quite so revolutionary as the original. You can still relive some of the magic at the museum at Bethel Woods, right on the site of the original fair. Many of today's Woodstock fans weren't even born at the time, but anyone can still go to the grounds where it all happened.

The museum provides historical context as to the sociopolitical events that led up to Woodstock, and visitors can tour the '60s with interactive exhibits. it also works with the State of New York to preserve and protect the historical site of the Woodstock grounds.

8 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio

No celebration of rock would be complete without a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Home to a massive collection of rock memorabilia, including handwritten lyrics, clothing, instruments, and a variety of crazy, quirky possessions if you keep your eyes open.

The museum has an extensive permanent collection and rotating exhibitions that you could easily spend an entire day here. After that, go and appreciate the local music scene in one of Cleveland's many live music venues.

7 Music Row, Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is known for its country music business, having produced and recorded some of the greatest country singers over the decades, but it's also got a vibrant rock and roll scene. This city is so renowned for its music that even those who aren't that interested stick around to tour the local stages.

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The place to see the best of Nashville is undoubtedly Music Row, the iconic mile of 16th and 17th Avenues lined with studios and record labels. The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, recorded much of his music in Nashville's studios.

6 Muscle Shoals, Alabama

You wouldn't think that the world's most popular artists would have recorded chart-topping hits in this tiny town in northern Alabama. Artists representing all genres have vied for time at Muscle Shoals Studio, only beginning with The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Rod Steward.

Nearby are FAME Studios, another of the area's historic studios. Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band camped in the studio's parking lot until he managed to record there, earning him international recognition and fame. Both studios offer tours, and Muscle Shoals now houses a museum.

5 Sun Studio, Memphis, Tennessee

After Alabama is another stop in Tennessee, this time in Memphis. Memphis holds the strongest claim for the birthplace of rock and roll, in 1951 having recorded Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats' "Rocket 88." Legend has it that the tone of the guitar was caused by a broken amplifier and thus rock was born.

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"Rocket 88" was recorded at Sun Studio, which went on to host dozens of rock, blues, and country superstars. The studio is still fully functioning and runs guided tours where visitors can listen to some original session tapes.

4 The Crossroads, Clarksdale, Mississippi

"I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees," sang Robert Johnson in the song that immortalizes his deal with the devil. His legacy is shadowed by the "Crossroad Blues," and with a lack of documentation on his life, there have been many legends associated with the musician.

The most popular is that he sold his soul to the devil at "the crossroads" for musical success, and died at 27 as a consequence. While we may never know what happened to Johnson, we do know that the infamous crossroads are in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Fans have made this such a popular site that it's now marked by two crossed guitars. To make it even better, Morgan Freeman owns Ground Zero Blues Club nearby.

3 Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, California

Everybody knows San Francisco as the birthplace of the hippies, but the movement was even more centralized around the Haight-Ashbury district. The area, named after the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets, was explicitly settled by hippies in order to build a counterculture community, focusing on sociopolitical opposition, music, and art.

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The neighborhood was so popular by 1967's Summer of Love that even established musicians wanted to be part of it. Janis Joplin and the members of both Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead lived nearby. Today, the collective attitude is less extreme, but you can be assured that colorful murals abound.

2 Joshua Tree, California

You might know Joshua Tree National Park from the U2 album, The Joshua Tree, inspired by the beauty of the country. Pictured on the album cover is a photo of the band in the park, next to a giant tree that has since died. But beyond using the park for a photoshoot (as did the Eagles), several artists escaped the fast pace of LA in favor of the desert.

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and Gram Parsons of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers used to drive out to Joshua Tree for a number of nefarious reasons. Parsons felt such love for the park that he asked that his ashes be scattered there. When he died in 1973, his manager infamously hijacked his body and cremated him in Joshua Tree, and for years, fans have laid memorials there.

1 Whisky a Go-Go, West Hollywood, California

Any rock music fan must stop for a whiskey at the Whisky. Almost any band that came out of Southern California in the '60s can credit the Whisky a Go-Go club for their popularity. Once the hottest bar on the Sunset Strip, the Whisky once hired The Doors as a house band (until Jim Morrison's lewd lyrics got them fired).

It has helped or created the careers of Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Iggy and the Stooges, and Mötley Crüe. It also popularised caged dancers and go-go dancers and even had a female DJ to play between live sets. The Whisky's popularity has died down, but it's still a fully operating nightclub that still hires live bands.

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