A 40th anniversary on wheels… the Hard Rock road show


For those of you that may not have heard… the Hard Rock Café is celebrating an anniversary this year. 2011 marks forty years for the groundbreaking, trendsetting, legendary establishment.

There are some that may claim the Hard Rock is nothing more than a glorified burger joint that happens to have some priceless stuff on the wall...

There are some that may claim other venues attempted decorating efforts before Hard Rock did…

And some will claim others made better use of similar elements and marketing and menus and all sorts of stuff both before and after Hard Rock did…

There may be some truth for the critics to use as a foundation for such claims.

I’m not here to debate those points. Because the simple truth is, few have established the track record of success or reached the levels of influence in their fields that have been ascended by Hard Rock.

We are talking about a presence in international markets… a photo opportunity for visitors… an anchor-store kind of treatment for uniting with hotels, resorts, casinos, shopping districts, and on and on… a tourist destination in some of the most traveled locales… and, oh yeah, a treasure of items that can pass as a museum and rival any collection of musical artifacts you could name.

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The story has become legendary. A guitarist joked with the owners of a hamburger place he really enjoyed about saving him a regular table. As a unique gift, to express his friendship (and to reserve the table), he presented the owners with a guitar.

The guitarist is Eric Clapton.

The hamburger place is the world famous Hard Rock, a name that has inspired dedicated followers around the globe.

The guitar became the first item in a collection of rock memorabilia and artifacts that now totals more than 70,000-pieces. So large is the inventory that it is continuously displayed in 51 countries and has been catalogued on-line with an interactive web site. In fact, with more than 165 locations around the world, the Hard Rock brand has become the name for combining good food, great times, and treasured memorabilia. Many of the items associated with the biggest moments in the history of Rock and Roll are part of the Hard Rock collection.

Hard Rock menus are famous for their burgers and other delicious dining options. In addition, seeing visitors wander around the restaurant, cameras in hand, is more than a daily occurrence at any Hard Rock venue.

Thanks to maintaining high standards of quality, tireless efforts to give back to the community their locations are a part of, and the strong recognition of the importance of items placed in their care, the Hard Rock business and staff are consistently supported by some of the biggest names in music. Whether donating a treasured item from their personal possessions or assisting with a charitable cause, music industry professionals are proud to be a part of Hard Rock efforts.


Love All. Serve All.

Hard Rock began celebrating is fortieth anniversary in 2011, and their company slogan continues to be one of the most succinct and powerful in the corporate world. It’s simple really, and all wrapped up in just four words.

Hard Rock is a proud supporter of local and world-wide causes, and endorses some incredible programs with its philanthropic efforts. As examples of the fantastic work Hard Rock takes part in, and unites so many with, are important campaigns organized for combating world hunger and raising awareness for breast cancer research. IMAGINE THERE’S NO HUNGER and PINKTOBER have been very successful international efforts in the past that continue in 2011.

Customers and visitors will find several items for sale that turn over portions of proceeds to agencies and efforts in a respective local region, across the country, and all over the world. Some pieces are prized collectibles and one-of-a-kind or limited productions.

In addition to benefiting deserving causes, many Hard Rock locations are also active in building relationships and opportunities with local citizens. As an example of this, many area musicians have been able to reach larger audiences by performing on a Hard Rock stage.

Love All. Serve All. It’s a way of approaching life that makes the world better for everyone.

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The Tour

As part of the anniversary celebrations, Hard Rock has hit the road. They’ve created a traveling display… in the trailer of a truck carrying the 40th Anniversary Memorabilia Tour. And, I have to be honest, in a space that couldn’t exceed 400-square feet, they have brought together an amazingly impressive show.

John Lennon… Roy Orbison… Jimi Hendrix… Buddy Holly… want me to go on? Ok. George Harrison… Prince… Queen… Johnny Cash… and some guy named Elvis Presley. Guitars… microphones… hand-written notes… glasses… heck, Ray Charles autographed a braille edition of Playboy and it’s here.

I had a chance to visit the exhibition, and it was a great experience... it also was offered for free and they let me bring a camera along.

So enjoy a few pictures from what easily could be the greatest single travelling rock and roll exhibit ever…

Elvis Presley – Gibson Super 400

When I saw this guitar, the first impression became the lasting impression -- the thing is HUGE. The picture doesn’t really do it justice… and maybe some of it is just some kind of visual trick… but the guitar is thick and deep and… look, it’s big.

Roy Orbison – Gretsch 6120

Here’s what I loved about this guitar… the pick guard. This is a “Chet Atkins” model. How often does that happen? …an artist prominently using another artist’s endorsed guitar? Probably more than I’m giving credit here, especially as I consider what I’m saying. Many aficionados will tell you that Gretsch and Chet more or less went hand in hand at the time. And that’s fine… but this guitar has the pick guard and a Bigsby and… classic.

Jimi Hendrix – Custom Gibson SG

Well look… it’s Hendrix and a guitar. I can only add so much to this one. But, worth noting… just like always… right-handed model that he flipped and restrung to play lefty.

Johnny Cash and Ray Charles

The main shot is of Cash’s guitar. And that’s cool. But, take a look a look off to the side. It’s a braille edition of Playboy… and yes, autographed by Charles.

Buddy Holly’s glasses

Totally different idea… and yet exactly the same as Hendrix’s guitar. There’s just nothing to add.

Freddy Mercury – Tour clothing

In my opinion… and I never saw him perform live in person… Freddy Mercury is the greatest front man ever. And it’s not even close.

George Harrison and John Lennon

Hmm… Elvis and Hendrix and Orbison and… haven’t had enough yet? How about hand-written lyrics from Harrison for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” or the leather jacket Lennon wore in the picture on the cover of Rubber Soul?

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com