While it may most commonly be associated with Rock, Hard Rock Cafe's collection of music memorabilia extends far beyond this one genre, with treasures from countless musical greats. Hugh McIntyre recently had the good fortune to visit the restaurant chain's vault, and here recounts some of the priceless items found within.
Guest post by Hugh McIntyre
For decades now, the Hard Rock chain of restaurants and hotels hasn’t so much been associated with just rock, but rather the greatest names in music. The brand may have the word “rock” in its name, but it’s about so much more than that, and the company makes this clear in its collection of artifacts, which is easily one of the greatest in the world when it comes to musical memorabilia. It spans both genres and generations, and it is unparalleled in regards to reach. Those on their way up share outfits and stage pieces, as do the estates of those who changed the world forever with their art decades ago.
The brand just recently opened its newest property in Atlantic City, NJ, and while the focus is surely going to be on ensuring guests have a wonderful time at top-notch accommodations (and that they spend a bit of money gambling, of course), those at the company are also looking to think about this new location as more than just another oceanside haunt—they’re pitching it as something of a musical museum.
That might sound like quite the claim, but the Atlantic City Hard Rock Hotel is so full of incredible pieces from the biggest artists who have ever lived, it’s not much of a stretch. I was fortunate enough to visit the company’s vault in Florida (yes, it’s an actual vault), where the priceless memorabilia is stored, and I had the opportunity to see what was going to make its way to the latest addition to the chain before it opened.
In a sea of amazing finds and gifts from chart-topping superstars, there were a few items that stood out, and looking at the photos doesn’t do them justice. To stand in front of these papers, plaques, and outfits is honestly to feel a connection to the musicians who made them special, and they’re now all on display in Atlantic City.
Here’s a quick look at the pieces that truly took my breath away and which made me believe that this new hotel and casino is definitely going to be one hell of a museum.
1. The handwritten lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine”
Handwritten lyrics are always coveted by collectors, but it’s possible that these may be the most treasured example of all time. Of all the music he created in his lifetime that has remained popular long after his death, Lennon’s true legacy is spreading peace on Earth, and these lyrics are at the center of it all.
2. Michael Jackson’s glove
One of his many signature wardrobe pieces, the bejewelled glove is iconic, and nobody will ever be able to wear one without referencing him.
3. Bruce Springsteen’s red tank top
The Hard Rock wasn’t about to open a new “museum” in New Jersey without honoring one of the best musicians to come from that state! Never a fashion icon like some of the others represented in this impressive collection, this outfit does definitely scream both “Springsteen” and “‘80s.”
4. Britney Spears’ cowboy boots
Okay, maybe this isn’t quite as historically important as Michael Jackson’s glove or the “Imagine” lyrics, but when it comes to fluffy, fun moments in pop culture, these won’t be forgotten for a long time. Britney Spears paired these boots with an all-denim ensemble, which her then-beau Justin Timberlake also pulled off. That image, which is well over a decade old now, is still so clear in the minds of many, and these boots pulled it all together.
5. David Bowie’s bodysuit
What would a collection of rock and roll memorabilia be without something from the oddest of them all? Everything about this item screams Bowie, and it immediately speaks to how creative he was and how he managed to stand out from the crowd (who wouldn’t stand out wearing this).