Arcada owner plans Chicago Music Hall of Fame

Arcada Theatre owner Ron Onesti will announce Wednesday that he plans to open a Chicago Music Hall of Fame.

The new Chicago museum will pay tribute to a wide range of local musicians, bands and behind-the-scenes players in blues, jazz, pop, rock and urban music - everyone from Benny Goodman and Chaka Khan to Billy Corgan and New Colony Six.

The Chicago Music Hall of Fame will be at 1431 W. Taylor St. in the city's Little Italy neighborhood. It will be above the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, where Onesti is also heavily involved.

Slated to open sometime in 2018, the Chicago Music Hall of Fame will feature a video-centric museum, a theater/performance area, a restaurant and bar, a 100-person rooftop cafe and a 300-person banquet space.

Onesti has become friends with many Chicago music legends during his years in the entertainment business, and many have performed at his St. Charles theater.

"I've been doing these shows for 30 years. I've come to realize just how much of an impact the Chicago area has had on popular music. There's nothing out there that's really celebrating these contributions, so that's what my intention is," he said. "I'm not trying to top the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is just a way of celebrating the great contributors to the music evolution in Chicago."

Rather than just having rooms full of artifacts and story boards, Onesti plans to spend $250,000 to make the hall an experiential museum with great sound, lights and video, allowing visitors to listen to the music and hear musicians tell their own stories. He said he will hold fundraisers and seek out sponsors to help fund the project.

"It's a work in progress," he said.

Onesti plans to include a number of Chicago-area musicians and contributors, including The Buckinghams, Ides of March, Chicago, Styx, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Lou Rawls, Buddy Guy, Chess Records and Willie Dixon.

Onesti doesn't have specific rules yet about who will be added to the hall, but he said it will be open to any Chicago-area musician who has made a positive impact. He does not intend to hold annual induction ceremonies.

"If they have a Chicago connection and a legitimate musical presence, they'll be involved," he said.

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