The Hard Rock Cafe is known not only for its Rock n Roll vibe, but all the great and rare music memorabilia that adorns the walls. Where else can you see guitars played by the greats like Eric Clapton, Paul Stanley, and Stevie Ray Vaughn? Only at the Hard Rock can you get up close and personal with tour outfits from Madonna, Prince, and Steven Tyler. But if you want to see outfits and instruments from the greats that are no longer with us, then this is your chance. Treasures of the Hard Rock is a collection of unique and rare music memorabilia that tours the nation, each with different themes. The one that is currently touring is “Gone Too Soon,” which is a collection of treasures from legendary musicians who are no longer with us.
These items are set up all around the cafe, cleverly displayed in treasure trunks allowing you to get as close as you can to check out every detail. Or even to take pictures with items such as the beautiful pink dress Amy Winehouse wore to Nelson Mandala's birthday party. It's a breathtaking collection with items collected from auctions and donated from family members. Tour curator Jeff Nolan helped put the pieces together in order to give fans “an opportunity to see that history first-hand.”
The collection includes items such as a stunning stage outfit worn by Whitney Houston, a necklace worn by Stevie Ray Vaughn, an early contract from Jimi Hendrix that includes the spelling of his name as “Jimmy,” and a shirt worn by John Lennon when he went to see the Smothers Brothers. Also included are pieces used or worn by Doors front man Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, The Who's Keith Moon, and Pantera/ Damage Plan's Dimebag Darrell, who had a stunning guitar modeled after the liquor Crown Royal. The most popular piece seemed to be a beautiful acoustic guitar played by Kurt Cobain, that was given to him by his aunt. Along with the guitar was a poem Cobain scrawled on paper. Just being in the presence of the tragic musician’s guitar and to see his handwriting in person is enough to make you hold your breath in awe.
Standing in front of the studded leather jacket Michael Jackson wore on his highly successful Bad tour blows your mind. The studded piece looks like something you would find in a biker club and to think of the King of Pop wearing this while performing is amazing. The most interesting piece has to be the wallet of Buddy Holly that was given to him by his friend Tommy Allsup, which was given to Holly before he got on the plane that would kill him. Not only is it amazing to see how well in tact the wallet is, it's unbelievable how all the documents in the wallet survived the crash.
Though the tour has left Chicago, it will be touring across the U.S. until mid-November. If you're going out of town or planning a family vacation, make sure to stop by the Hard Rock for this free event. And while you're there, grab a table and sit down for a hearty burger and thick, crispy fries. I personally recommend the S.O.B. Burger if you like food with a kick. Also, you can hear your favorite songs while enjoying your dinner; the place always has great music playing. The “Gone Too Soon” collection will be in Austin, Texas next just in time for the South By Southwest Festival. It'll be there for a week before it moves on to San Diego in April. And make sure to stop by Chicago's Hard Rock Cafe anyway to enjoy all the great pieces they have on display everyday. Any music fan will be excited to see parts of music history with their own eyes.