Despite the Georgia Music Hall of Fame's closure in 2011, the state remains rich in its musical history.
Sure, the state's collection of historic memorabilia today sits in storage at the University of Georgia, but you don’t have to go digging through those archives to get a sense of Georgia’s musical roots.
Scattered throughout our fair state remain a number of tributes to the music we make in the Peach State.
To get a head start on the broad and rich history of Georgia music, we’ve complied five Georgia music landmarks for those interested in taking their own tour of the state’s musical history.
The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House
2321 Vineville Ave., Macon, 478-741-5551, www.thebighousemuseum.com
Don't let the end of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame keep you from visiting Macon. Music fans can still get their kicks at The Allman Brothers Band Museum. Affectionately called "The Big House," the 18-room Tudor-style mansion where bassist Barry Oakley and his wife Linda once lived was the band's hub for family life, rehearsal and inspiration from 1970 to 1973 (when rent was only $225 per month). "Blue Sky" and "Ramblin' Man" were written here. "The Big House" features an extensive collection of Southern rock memorabilia, artifacts, interactive exhibits and special memories.
Otis Redding Statue
MLK Jr. Blvd. at Riverside Dr., Macon, www.maconga.org
It's no wonder Macon is considered the capital of Georgia music - legend Otis Redding grew up in the city and was first discovered there. He continued to make Macon his home until his death in 1967. Redding is immortalized in a life-sized bronze statue at Gateway Park, on a bank of the Ocmulgee River. Unveiled in 2003, "Otis Redding Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," was created by artist Bradley Cooley and his son Bradley Cooley, Jr. Enjoy Redding's music (the statue plays music 24 hours a day) and consider checking out The Otis Redding Foundation, also located in Macon.
Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum
805 5th Ave., Columbus, 706-653-4960, www.exploregeorgia.org
"The Mother of the Blues," Gertrude "Ma Rainey" Pridgett was about 13 years old when she began performing shows in her hometown of Columbus. Rainey went on to tour with the Rabbit's Foot Company before recording more than 90 songs for Paramount. During her career, she sponsored, performed and recorded with many American blues and jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Thomas A. Dorsey and others.
In 1935, Rainey ended her show business career and settled into a house on Fifth Avenue in Columbus. She lived in the house for less than five years before dying of heart failure in 1939, at just 53 years old. After years of distress, the "Ma Rainey" House is open for visitors and ready to rock.
James Brown Exhibit at the Augusta Museum of History
560 Reynolds St., Augusta, 706-722-8454, www.augustamuseum.org
Begin your exploration of James Brown's Augusta at the Augusta Museum of History. Founded in 1937 and home to the largest historical collection in the Central Savannah River Area, the museum houses the first and most comprehensive major exhibition dedicated to The Godfather of Soul. See some of his classic dance moves as you watch his concerts on DVD. Listen to some of his all time hits and learn about his life, legacy and contribution to music. Highlights of the exhibit include ever-changing costume displays and other personal artifacts owned and worn by Brown, as well as family photos, original vinyl albums and other unique memorabilia.
While in Augusta, stop by the Imperial Theatre, where Brown and his band, the Soul Generals, would rehearse before going on world tours. It's also where he held his toy giveaways to needy children at Christmas. A tradition that continues today.
Athens Music History Tour
280 East Dougherty St., Athens, 706-353-1820, www.visitathensga.com
The Athens Music History Tour covers all the places that have made Athens a music mecca. Atlanta's sister to the east has brought music acts like The B-52s, R.E.M. and Widespread Panic to the forefront of American culture. The Athens Welcome Center offers fun (and surprisingly inexpensive) music tours full of insider information and stories. Stops include the location of R.E.M.'s second show (the first using their official name) and early club spots where artists like The Replacements and poet Allen Ginsberg performed.