From time to time, some of our more passionate guests will get worked-up over certain pieces of memorabilia in our collection and try to take us to task over them. Usually, this stems from someone assuming that a joint called the Hard Rock should exclusively display memorabilia that fits into their personal definition of what “hard rock” music is. Here’s the thing – our memorabilia collection strives (successfully, we think) to present a truly broad cross-section of music culture. If we only adhered to an “it must be rock music to qualify” ethos, not only would we have to purge pop-culture icons like Madonna or Michael Jackson from our collection, we’d have to lose every piece of memorabilia from before 1954. More importantly, we’d miss out on presenting some of the most unique – and most significant – pieces from the crazy and wonderful world of popular music. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things we’ve been asked about. You can also see a lot more of these kinds of items at our interactive memorabilia site. Let’s start with one of the most controversial pieces in our collection – the jacket Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli wore to the 1990 Grammy™ awards:
We get negative comments from guests about this piece every day, but those folks miss the point. Think of what this jacket represents. It’s a true piece of history. Rob accepted his unearned Grammy™ in this thing. It’s painful to think that Rob’s life was turned completely upside down by the lip-synch scandal, and he eventually overdosed and died, but today’s pop stars do THE EXACT SAME THING MILLI VANILLI DID on a daily basis and no one bats an eye. What’s the difference between Milli Vanilli’s lip-synching and today’s “singers” using Auto Tune to make them sound semi-talented? This jacket represents everything that’s cynical and usurious about the music industry, which makes it a fantastic piece of memorabilia.
Here’s another piece we catch a lot of grief over. It’s the outfit worn by MC Hammer in the “Dancing Machine” video:
There are always people who think hip-hop music doesn’t belong in our collection, but those people clearly don’t understand rock music. MC Hammer was like some sort of bizarre, inescapable force of nature in the early ‘90s, and his trademark super-baggy pants will go down in history as one of the most ill-advised fashion choices of the 20th century. For that reason alone, MC Hammer outfits are like gold to us. We realize MC Hammer doesn’t exactly qualify as an emcee with true hip-hop bona fides, so here’s a Kangol hat and gold chain from L.L. Cool J:
Here’s a great one – Frank Sinatra’s gold-plated AKG microphone:
Amazingly, we occasionally catch some flak for having this piece displayed. First of all, it’s Frank Sinatra’s gold microphone. That equals totally awesome. Second, you people better be careful, or the Chairman of the Board might come out of the grave just to kick some ass. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again. Frank may not have been a rock artist, but every single front man in music – from Elvis to Jagger to Bono – owes Frank a heavy debt. Sinatra was the guy who pioneered the whole concept of the singing teen idol. Better recognize. With the exception of the Milli Vanilli jacket, the things we get the most negative reaction to are usually from contemporary female pop artists. Hardly a day goes by without a guest balking at Britney Spears’ waitress outfit from the “Crazy” video. Check it out:
We’re well aware that Britney isn’t Janis Joplin, but the legacy of the teenage sexpot singer is as old a rock music itself. Their music is designed for prepubescent kids who quickly grow out of it and latch on to something with more substance. In a way, these pop-tarts are opening up the world of music to kids who’ve previously only paid attention to cartoons. Whether that’s a good thing is up to you. Another example of female pop star backlash is this Shakira piece:
Shakira wore these on the Oral Fixation tour in 2006, and we constantly get asked why we’re displaying them. If people would take the time to do a little digging before they do their dissing, they’d realize that Shakira is one of the most philanthropic pop stars in history. Her Pies Descalzos foundation has donated over $40 million to underprivileged and impoverished youth in South America. This means there’s a direct line from the legendary ’67 Monterey Pop Festival to Shakira. Monterey Pop was the first charity rock show, and it set the template for charitable works by pop stars that is still followed today. Shakira is doing an admirable job of furthering that legacy. We’re proud to have her in our collection. The adverse reaction to female pop artists doesn’t just apply to the teenybopper set; we get a fair amount of negative reactions to our Cher collection, too:
Hating on Cher makes no sense to us at all. It’s like some people aren’t aware that she had a career before that vapid auto-tuned nightmare, “Believe”. Well, you better believe she did. Did you know that Cher was a background singer for Phil Spector in the sixties? She sang on classics like The Ronette’s “Be My Baby”, The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron”, and The Righteous Brother’s “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. Of course, she was also the queen of musical comedy variety shows in the ‘70s with Sony Bono, and served as Bob Mackie’s muse for his over-the-top clothing designs. This halter is a Mackie piece. Cher rules. Deal with it. Another ‘70s teen idol we’ve been asked about is Donny Osmond. We hear stuff like, “how is Donny Osmond a rock artist?” and “what does Donny Osmond have to do with anything cool?” Here’s an outfit he wore in the early ‘60s on a Bob Hope special:
Aside from this outfit being the goofiest thing in history – and therefore badass – the Osmonds rocked. Don’t believe us? Check out the boys tearing it up on “Crazy Horses”. It’s damn near heavy metal. Finally, let’s look at a piece that at one time represented everything any self-respecting rocker despised. Here’s the sun sculpture that hung over the dance floor at legendary disco Studio 54:
It’s funny how well disco music has aged. Today’s dance music is made almost entirely by machines and, compared to disco, it lacks a human element and a true soul. It’s great to listen to old disco records and savor some dance grooves that were played by actual living humans. ‘70s disco rocks harder than most contemporary rock bands. Check out A Taste of Honey throwing down live in ’78.So there’s a few pieces we catch grief about fairly often. Actually, we love it when guests have a strong reaction to something in our collection – even if it seems negative. It allows us to get into the big music-nerd debates that we all dig having. That’s what this collection is all about.
How do you do it, you ask? Easy, we say. Be one of the first 200 donors each day at the Four Corners Food Drive to receive a pair of tickets to this exclusive event. That's right. You get to help people and families during this holiday season and you get to catch a great show. Of course, you have to be one of the first 200 donors to get the tix, but you can do that, can't you?
Here's the lowdown. Each day this week, Monday-Thursday, a different Sam's Club location in Las Vegas will be the drop off point for the Food Drive.
So, all you gotta do is get a few non-perishable food items together and get your butt down to one of those locations this week. Easy. We'll see you at the show, yo.
Last Friday, November 27, The Killers brought their explosive rock 'n' roll to Estadio G.E.B.A. in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a hit-filled, energetic show. Opening with "Human" and closing with "When You Were Young", the boys in the band never let up, even throwing in Elvis and Joy Division covers ("Can't Help Falling In Love" and "Shadowplay", respectively), just for the fun of it. The guys even made time to hang with some very lucky fans for a meet 'n' greet.
From their (Las Vegas) hometown-inspired synth-pop of their 1st album, Hot Fuss to the Americana-meets-U2 grandiosity of their sohpmore effort, Sam's Town to their dance rock masterpiece Day & Age, the boys in the band have been busy since they blasted onto the scene in 2004. They've been on a seemingly non-stop tour during the last five years and even headlined the first day of Hard Rock Calling in London's Hyde Park this year. We were really stoked to have them supporting Ambassadors of Rock one more time this year. We wanted to thank the fans for coming out and the band for being awesome. You all rock!
Orlando, Fla., November 29, 2009 – Hard Rock International, one of the world's most recognizable brands, is proud to announce the opening of Hard Rock Cafe Phuket. The new 1330-square-meter cafe and retail outlet will offer guests great American fare in a rock 'n' roll atmosphere in the heart of Patong, Phuket. Owned and operated by Destination Properties, Thailand’s leading resort property and hospitality company, Hard Rock Cafe Phuket is located on the main retail strip of Patong, which offers access to all other beaches on Phuket Island. The Phuket cafe is ideally situated near luxury hotels and great shopping, and a short distance from the international airport, offering a convenient destination for both local fans and travelers. “Phuket is one of Asia’s top island resort destinations, with its unique beaches and spectacular scenery,” said Hamish Dodds, president and CEO of Hard Rock International. “We could not be more pleased to bring our world-famous Hard Rock brand to this stunning locale.”Hard Rock Cafe Phuket is sure to contend as one of the area’s premier dining and entertainment destinations, with two levels, including a 300-seat restaurant and bar area, patio seating and Hard Rock’s signature retail Rock Shop. The state-of-the-art facility is adorned with pieces from Hard Rock’s world-famous memorabilia collection, including items representing both contemporary stars like Collective Soul, Madonna and Jewel to rock legends like Elvis Presley, KISS and Guns ‘N’ Roses. For more than 38 years, Hard Rock Cafe has offered guests classic American fare in a rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere. Hard Rock Cafe Phuket features a hardwood smoker, which uses the very best Hickory wood chips to slowly cook Hard Rock’s classic ribs, chicken and pork to perfection. Hard Rock’s Legendary Experience menu is just that – legendary – offering six different mouth-watering Legendary Burgers made from Certified Angus Beef. In addition to its food, Hard Rock offers unmatched specialty drinks from its award-winning bar menu, from Hurricanes and Margaritas, to its Alternative Rock non-alcoholic beverage menu featuring favorites like Wildberry Smoothies and Crushed Velvet “martinis.”The Rock Shop offers a limited line of authentic Hard Rock Cafe items, including Hard Rock’s famous Classic and City T-shirts, as well as highly coveted accessories and pins, which reflect the spirit of the city and the authenticity of Hard Rock’s merchandise. New Hard Rock Cafe Phuket limited-edition and city-specific merchandise is now available.For more information, please visit www.hardrock.com. About Destination Properties Co., Ltd. Destination Properties Co., Ltd. is a leading hospitality company in Thailand with interests in hotels, golf resorts, and real estate developments in several key resort destinations throughout Thailand. The Group owns the Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa, Courtyard by Marriott at Patong Beach, Courtyard by Marriott at Surin Beach, Ramada Karon Beach Resort, Courtyard by Marriott at Kamala Beach, Doubletree by Hilton, Eastern Seaboard, and Courtyard by Marriott Hua Hin at Cha am Beach. The Group also has ownership in Destination Air, Thailand’s only seaplane operation flying throughout the Andaman Sea. Destination Properties creates “Great Places to Be,” visit us at www.destination-properties.com. About Hard Rock International With a total of 158 venues in 53 countries, including 128 cafes and 12 Hotels/Casinos, Hard Rock International is one of the world's most globally recognized brands. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world's greatest collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise, Hard Rock Live performance venues and an award-winning website. In addition to the two flagship Seminole Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla., Hard Rock Hotels/Casinos are located in Las Vegas, Biloxi, Orlando, Chicago, San Diego, Pattaya, Bali, Macau and Penang. Additional hotel and casino projects have been announced in; Singapore and Punta Cana, scheduled to open in 2010; Atlanta and Panama, both scheduled to open in 2012; and Hungary, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open in 2013. Hard Rock International is owned by Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, Inc. For further details on Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos, visit www.hardrockhotels.com. For more information on Hard Rock International, visit www.hardrock.com.
11.30: The rebel yelled for the first time today in 1955. Billy Idol took his first steps toward white weddings, Mony, eyes without faces, and rockin' cradles of love. Born William Michael Albert Broad (3 first names!), Idol supposedly gained his nickname during his school days, due to his idle ways. Joining a handful of bands in the '70s as a guitar player, including an early incarnation of Siouxsie and The Banshees and a punk band called Chelsea, Idol moved into the lead singer position with his next band, Generation X. Lasting five years and three proper albums, Generation X tried to remain true to its punk origins, while attempting to pursue more of a rock sound. Tensions boiled over between Idol and other band members due to this dichotomy, however, leading to the departure of the guitar player and the drummer. Pounding it out for one more album, which included an early version of Idol's first solo hit, "Dancing With Myself," Generation X finally called it quits in 1981. Which, of course, allowed Billy to pursue a solo career full of massive rock hits, ubiquitous early '80s videos, and, the cherry on the sundae, a cameo in The Wedding Singer. Man, Billy's got the life. 12.01: The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler, the wind beneath our wings, was born on this day in 1945. Though the kids today (fists shaking in front of our grumpy faces, scowls etched upon our elder brows) may only know Midler for her schmaltzy, monstrous hit song from Beaches or her now-intermittent acting, we know her as a monumentally talented performer, who's been doing it well for many, many years. Midler got her big break at Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in NYC, in the early '70s. Midler's one of two megastar artists, of whom we can think offhand, to get their start there. Her piano accompaniment came from a young musician and producer by the name of Barry Manilow, who would, as you may or may not know, rule the adult contemporary airwaves for a good portion of the '70s. Miss M moved from the bathhouse scene to the mainstream to the movie screen with ease, releasing her debut album, The Divine Miss M, in 1972 to commercial and critical acclaim, winning a Grammy for Best Newcomer the following year, and earning an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of a talented, yet doomed, singer in The Rose (based loosely on the life of Janis Joplin) in 1979. Divine, indeed. We want to thank Midler's parents for their horizontal mambo nine months prior to her birth and for bringing a great talent into the world, that one song mentioned previously, which we shall not name, notwithstanding. 12.01: On this day in 1999, indie rock pioneers Pavement announced their retirement. Formed in 1989 by Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg as an exercise in studio production, the band eventually became a real band by 1991. That is, they added a drummer and bassist and played live shows to actual live people. Their first two albums, Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, considered and revered by many as masterpieces of indie rock, flirted with the mainstream, but Pavement's path would not take it into the everyman's CD collection. Which, it turns out, was fine with both the band and their fans, alike, preserving their reputation and their sound forever. Pavement released five albums in their decade-long life, but their influence has reached across the decade since, as well, inspiring musicians and bands with their lo-fi garage sound, their distinctive voice, and their overall awesomeness. 12.02: Gilby Clarke joined Guns N’ Roses on this day in 1991, replacing founding member and original guitarist Izzy Stradlin, who'd left suddenly after a show in Germany, citing Axl's erratic behavior and Slash, Matt Sorum, and Duff McKagan's drug use (Izzy'd recently found sobriety) as the main reasons for his departure. Long way of saying that Gilby Clarke took control of Guns' rhythm, along with Sorum, and lasted all of three years, an eternity in Guns N' Roses universe. Izzy's departure came on the heels of original drummer Steven Adler's firing and led the way for the rest of the band, except for Axl, of course, to eventually take off. Guns N' Roses lives on in name, but the spirit indelibly existed for only a short time, from 1986 to 1993. R.I.P. Guns N' Roses. 12.03: This day, 1948, the Prince of Darkness (no, not that Prince of Darkness) joined the world. Ozzy Osbourne, nee John Michael Osbourne, grew up in the working class neighborhood of Aston in Birmingham, England. Along with schoolmate Tony Iommi, Osbourne formed the band that would eventually become the progenitors of heavy metal, the greatest heavy-blues band (yes, you heard us, heavy blues) in the world, Black Sabbath. Informed by their roots, their city, and their need to differentiate themselves from all the gooey, dirty-hippy psychedelic rock of the era, Sabbath brought something new to the table, something that critics hated, but that people connected with immediately. They sounded like nothing that'd come before them. There've been other bands credited with being the birth of metal, but Sabbath, in our humble opinion, is heavy metal, is the one band that brought it all together, that included heavy riffs with eerie vocals with lugubrious rhythm with lyrics darker than Armageddon. In Sabbath's albums you hear every metal band that came after them, and, conversely, in every metal band that’s come after them, you hear Sabbath. Even if a metal band's not influenced by Sabbath (which, to us, doesn't compute, but, we guess, could happen), they've been influenced by a band that was dedicated to the amazing darkness that Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and Bill thrust upon the world. Happy birthday, Ozzy! You absolutely rock. 12.04: This day in 1993 claimed the life of one of the greatest composers in history, the one and only Frank Zappa. Some, namely those who don't know his works, might scratch their collective, uneducated heads at the "composer" categorization, but we know differently. Only 52 years old at the time of his death (from prostate cancer), Zappa released more than 60(!) albums in his life, most with his band, Mothers of Invention. A student of contemporary classical composers, such as Varése and Stravinsky, and the popular music he grew up on, such as doo-wop and early rock 'n' roll, Zappa turned his overarching love of all music into something else entirely, a beautiful mash-up of things he loved, presented in complex and challenging styles. We could go on for thousands of words, expounding upon the virtues of exploring Zappa's work, but we shan't. We'll just say check him out for yourself. Pick an album, any album, and listen. 12.06: The writer of such hits as "Pretty Woman," "Only The Lonely," and "Cryin'", Roy Orbison, passed away from a heart attack on this day in 1988. From his initial success in the late '50s and early '60s to his popular decline through the '70s to his resurgence in the '80s, Orbison's career spanned four decades, from the early days of rock 'n' roll onward. His uncannily, almost impossibly smooth tenor accompanied his rock ballads to the top of the charts, influencing some of the great bands of the '60s, like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, with whom he toured in Europe in 1963. His friendship with George Harrison lasted the rest of his life, as George would join Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan in Traveling Wilburys, one of the greatest supergroups in the history of supergroups (quick, name another), thanks in no small part to Orbison's contributions, which, like most of his work, was flat-out brilliant. It's been twenty years since his death, but if you watch the filmed 1987 concert movie Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night, you'll swear he's still here, his voice resonating through your brain like the morning sun through your bleary eyes.
Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas hosted two separate hip-hop superstars this week, as part of 98.5 KLUC Radio's “Hang with Diddy & Dirty Money” and “Lunch with 50 Cent” contests. Ten lucky winners were chosen for each contest and got to hang or dine with Diddy & Dirty Money or Fifty Cent, respectively.
Fifty even got in on Hard Rock's Imagine There's No Hunger campaign when he sported the exclusive Imagine bracelet that's only available at participating Hard Rock Cafes.
Diddy was in town to show off his brand new group, consisting of himself, Dawn Richard (formerly of Danity Kane), and Kalenna. With his upcoming Last Train To Paris dropping soon, Diddy & Dirty Money are getting the hype train on the fast track. Click on that Diddy & Dirty Money link above to check out their first single. It's pretty damn hot.
Can’t get no satisfaction from holiday shopping? Right now, for a limited time, customers in the continental U.S. receive FREE SHIPPING on orders of $100 or more*. We've got a ton of great gift ideas in our Online Rock Shop: Men's gifts, Women's gifts, and Collectible gifts, from hoodies to limited edition board games to shot glasses. Get 'em today to have them in time for the holidays! It’s Hard Rock Holidays in the Online Rock Shop!
On Friday, November 20th, 2009, Hard Rock Cafe Boston and WFNX teamed up to host a private concert with the amazing Canadian rock band Metric. During an intimate acoustic set, lead singer Emily Haines and lead guitarist James Shaw highlighted songs from their amazing new album Fantasies. They played “Twilight Galaxy”, “Gold Guns Girls”, and “Gimme Sympathy” from the new album.
They also played “Combat Baby” from their past album Old World Underground and then finished by playing a song from The Strokes called “The End Has No End”. A great question and answer session followed the set, with one fan asking the band, “What's one of your favorite Metric songs?” Emily replied that it was “Empty” because it has an old classic rock feel, where it starts slow and ends great, comparing it to something akin to Pink Floyd. We have to agree, that is one damn good song.
The band stayed after to autograph CDs, as well as a guitar for Hard Rock, which will be later used for charity. We just wanted to thank Emily and James for stopping by and the fans for being so cool.
The lines were around the block at Hard Rock Cafe Toronto on Monday, November 23rd, for a little shindig featuring one John Mayer.
All in attendance had won a spot at the intimate gig through a contest held by CHUM FM, a local Toronto radio station. Of the 125 winners, not a one left disappointed. John brought the goods for a short set of hits and a little banter with his fans.
Belting out "Waiting On The World To Change" and a, dare we say, sensual cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin" in between telling certain female audience members that he loved them too and making self-depricating jokes about how his music had turned the Cafe into Flaccid Rock, John is the consumate showman, commanding any audience in front of which he stands, whether it's a 100 people or 80,000.
On his way out of the Cafe, John stopped to hang out with the thrall for a little while, signing autographs, giving high-fives, and, generally, being the cool cat that he is. We just wanted to thank John for stopping by, the fans for coming out, CHUM FM for being a great partner in the event, the amazing staff at HRC Toronto for always being awesome, and you for taking the time to make it this far down the post. You all rock!
The cost to participate in Bikers Bash weekend is $400 per rider for the weekend; $300 per passenger for the weekend; and $250 per person for Friday Night’s Bikers Bash only. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information visit the new website featuring a live-feed camera show during the event rides at www.BikersBash.org or call Kerry Becker at (954) 537-1010.