Rock ’n’ roll memories and ghosts of radio past, shows under summer stars, in smoky bars and echoing arenas, and music made by native sons and daughters — that’s what "Another Hot Oklahoma Night: A Rock & Roll Exhibit” is all about.
The Oklahoma History Center celebrates this unique look at the rockier side of Sooner State music Saturday with a grand-opening bash featuring 14 bands, do-it-yourself tie-dye fun, rock star makeovers, "Guitar Hero” (the game), rock star photo ops, and costume contests to pick the best ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s outfits. It’s a free-for-one-day-only chance to explore 50 years of homegrown, guitar-driven history "from Wanda Jackson to Wayne Coyne,” as exhibit curators Jeff Moore and Larry O’Dell like to put it. "Oklahoma has such a central part in the rock ’n’ roll story that hopefully you can tell we’re excited about it,” said Moore, director of exhibits at the center. "Hopefully, the exhibit will reflect our excitement and enthusiasm and match the honor and validation that the stories deserve, because there’s a bunch of these guys that deserve to be in halls of fame or whatever it is that people do to honor greatness.” The "Hot Oklahoma Night” exhibit spreads through four major galleries of the museum with displays of artifacts and memorabilia representing not only the artists and their music but the culture, technology, venues and fan experiences of the Oklahoma rock scene, and the radio and television programming that put it all out over the air. "We’ve done about 150 interviews that cover the whole history of Oklahoma rock ’n’ roll,” said O’Dell, director of collections for the museum’s research division. "We’re collecting these kind of snapshots of music from Wanda Jackson to Wayne Coyne to the Uglysuit, to some of the newer groups right now.” People ranging from local DJs and record producers to players both famous and obscure shared their stories for interactive features placed throughout the exhibit and for a documentary to be assembled later. So, visitors entering the artists’ portion of the exhibit in the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Gallery can see rockabilly queen Jackson’s pink sequined stage dress and hear the Maud native talk about the days when she wore it and toured with mentor Elvis Presley. A few short steps away, the Collins Kids, another pioneering Oklahoma rockabilly act, are honored with a display containing the custom-built double-neck Mosrite guitar Larry Collins was playing like an ace at age 10 while performing with sister Lorrie on "Tex Ritter’s Town Hall Party” TV show in the late ’50s. The Nudie outfits they wore and an early publicity photo of the smiling siblings are on view as well. Around the corner are the spacey glasses and shoes worn by ’70s Okie singer-songwriter Moon Martin, who wrote the Robert Palmer hit "Bad Case of Lovin’ You (Doctor, Doctor).