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Prince on his Ultimate Live Experience tour, Brabanthallen’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, March 24, 1995. Photo: Paul Bergen/Redferns.

WHEN A BAND, famous or unknown, leads with a hit it can mean only one of two things: They’re anxious to get the hell off the stage and go back to snorting rails at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée (or smoking crack out of a Bic-pen barrel at the Super 8), or they’ve got hits for days and can afford to burn them like Weimar Republic cash.

The first thing that greets you as you walk into “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” at New York’s staid and storied Metropolitan Museum of Art is Chuck Berry’s blond Gibson ES-350T—likely, we are told, the one he used to record “Johnny B. Goode,” the legendary song from which all rock ’n’ roll is arguably spawned. To your right is the gold-painted piano that survived more than fifty years of the fists and feet of Jerry Lee Lewis, and beyond that is blues lord Muddy Waters’s “Hoss,” worn at the edges, and a pristine Gretsch version of Bo Diddley’s

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