Emerging from the incredibly fertile post-war Chicago blues scene, LaVern Baker established herself as a true R&B powerhouse with smash hits like “Tweedlee Dee”, “I Cried a Tear” and the classic “Jim Dandy”. An active performer well into the 1990s, LaVern also worked on Broadway and on many hit movie soundtracks. This dress was custom-tailored for Ms. Baker and she wore it on stage often.
In 1964, as Beatlemania was taking over America, Beatle souvenirs became a huge industry. Just about any item that could be emblazoned with the Fab Four’s image was fair game in a marketing frenzy that was unequaled in the music world. The dress on display is a great example. These were made available through the Beatles fan club and are now highly sought-after by Beatles collectors.
The incomparable Jimi Hendrix playing “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in the early morning hours of Monday, August 18th, 1969 is one of the indelible images of the 1960s. Hendrix not only defined the electric guitar for a generation, but also the “electric gypsy” fashion that is synonymous with the hippie movement. The boots on display belonged to Jimi. They’re a bit of a stylistic departure from the usual Hendrix look.
When Sly & the Family Stone took the stage at Woodstock in the wee hours of Sunday, August 17th, a crowd of nearly 500,000 were blown away by what has often been cited as the festival’s single best performance. Frontman Sly Stone led his multi-gender, multi-racial group through an incredible set that included classics like “Stand”, “Everyday People” and “I Want to Take You Higher”. This outfit was worn onstage by Sly Stone a few years after the Woodstock festival.
Easily one of the heaviest sets at the Woodstock festival was the blistering performance from Mountain on the festival’s second day. This New York-based band is best known for the hit “Mississippi Queen” and are one of the groups that laid the groundwork for what became heavy metal. Their bassist, Felix Pappalardi, was a deeply talented, classically trained musician who also found success as a producer. Felix owned this stylish suit in the early ‘70s. It was designed by legendary tailor Nudie Cohn.
This suit was worn on stage by Buddy Holly while touring with his band, the Crickets, in 1956. Buddy was quite possibly the single greatest songwriter of the early rock ‘n’ roll era. With timeless compositions like “That’ll Be the Day”, “Peggy Sue” and “Oh Boy!”, it's hard to believe that an artist of his stature and influence never saw age 23. Buddy Holly’s shadow still looms large over the pop world more than half a century after his death.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Comprised of members of the Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds and the Hollies, Crosby, Stills Nash & Young are far and away the most successful “supergroup” of all time. With their pitch-perfect harmonies and brilliant songwriting, they set the standard for what became the “folk rock” movement. The group’s well-received set at Woodstock in the early morning hours of Monday, August 18th was only their second public performance. This Martin 12-string guitar was owned and signed by David Crosby.
The Spencer Davis Group
Welsh musician and bandleader Spencer Davis was a mainstay on the pop charts in the ‘60s with his band The Spencer Davis Group – which featured a teenage Steve Winwood on keys and vocals. Hits like “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man” enjoyed worldwide success and kept Spencer Davis performing well into the 21st century. Spencer owned and signed this lovely old Vega acoustic.
Predating the Beatles by a few years, Liverpool native Billy Fury emerged in the late ‘50s as a sort of British version of Elvis Presley. Though he never enjoyed much American success, Billy was a major star in England – racking up 24 hit singles in the 1960s and crossing over into both feature films and television. The suit on display was worn on stage by Billy Fury in 1963. It was designed by D.A. Millings – the London tailor famous for the Beatles’ collarless suits.
John Lee Hooker
Of all the post-war bluesmen who had a major impact on rock music, Mississippi native John Lee Hooker was quite possibly the most unique and recognizable. With his patented “boogie” rhythm and low, gravelly voice, Hooker has influenced a host of classic rock bands. ZZ Top’s 1973 mega hit “La Grange” is so Hooker-influenced that it’s as much homage to John Lee as it is an original composition. This vintage Gibson L-50 guitar belonged to John Lee Hooker.
One of the greatest things about rock ’n’ roll is its commitment to youthful rebellion and perpetual adolescence. No one personifies this spirit more than AC/DC guitarist Angus Young. With his schoolboy clothes, hyperactive stage presence and sledgehammer riffs, Angus has been rock's reigning brat for nearly 40 years. He wore this schoolboy suit on stage with the Australian powerhouse in the 1980s.
Progressive rock icons Kansas emerged in the mid ‘70s with a wholly unique sound that catapulted the group to stardom behind hits like “Dust in the Wind”, “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Point of Know Return”. The members of the band signed this Fender Musicmaster bass in the ‘90s.
Jerry Lee Lewis
Among the rock ‘n’ roll pioneers of the 1950s, no one personifies the reckless spirit of the genre more than Jerry Lee Lewis. He earned his nickname, “The Killer”, through no-holds-barred live performances and a truly wild personal lifestyle. Jerry Lee’s powerful piano playing and clever reworkings of blues standards spawned timeless classics like “Great Balls of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” and “Breathless”. This was Jerry’s personal tour jacket. It features “The Killer” embroidered over the left breast.
The legendary “Chairman of the Board” defined traditional American pop and swing styles , was the very first “teen idol” and became one of the most iconic figures in history. Frank’s larger-than-life persona is so ingrained in our culture, that it’s easy to overlook how truly gifted he was as a vocalist and lyric interpreter. Sinatra’s 60-year career had many highlights, but most agree that his best work was done in the 1950s when he collaborated with bandleader Nelson Riddle on classic albums like “Songs for Swinging Lovers” and “In the Wee Small Hours”. The wool-and-silk blazer on display was custom-tailored for Frank Sinatra in 1982.
In a career that spanned nearly forty years, John “The Ox” Entwistle of the Who defined the sound and approach of the bass guitar in heavy rock. His passion and technique have influenced every rock bassist who’s picked up the instrument since. This absolutely stunning Alembic bass was custom-made for John in the ‘70s. John had a long relationship with the Alembic Company and some of their best-known designs were created specifically for him.
With mega hits like “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” and a highly successful career as an actor and TV host, Glen Campbell was among the biggest stars of the late ‘60s and ‘70s. His true gift, however, is as a guitarist. Glen is an absolute virtuoso and was a top session guitarist in Los Angeles throughout the ‘60s – lending his unique guitar style to hits from the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Elvis, Phil Spector and a host of other chart-toppers. This extremely rare Ovation electric was custom-built for Glen in the 1970s. Only two of these beauties were ever made.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
When Texas blues virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan passed away in 1990, the world lost one of the most passionate and incendiary guitarists who ever picked up the instrument. Stevie rewrote the book for guitarists in the ‘80s and helped spark a blues renaissance that is still going strong. This unusual guitar was built for Stevie Ray Vaughan by Kurt Hendrick in the mid-‘80s.
Guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper was a key component to the classic soul sound that came out of Memphis in the 1960s. Steve co-wrote “In the Midnight Hour” with Wilson Pickett, “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” with Otis Redding and “Knock on Wood” with Eddie Floyd. His work with Booker T. and the M.G.’s made him a bona-fide guitar icon with instrumental workouts like “Green Onions and “Hip Hug-Her”. Steve’s twangy, stinging guitar style is instantly recognizable and has been imitated countless times. This extremely rare Fender Telecaster belonged to Steve Cropper. It’s constructed entirely of rosewood.
This Samick guitar was altered and signed by Los Angeles-based group Xtra Large. A somewhat short-lived group featuring members of the Vandals, Xtra Large was known for their ambitious instrumental style and wild live shows.
The Beale Street “Blues Boy” (that’s the origin of the nickname “B.B.” – his real name is Riley) has been singing the blues and stinging the crowds with his trademark axe, “Lucille,” for over sixty years. A living connection to the Delta tradition, this one-time Memphis DJ has influenced generations of players from Hendrix to U2’s The Edge to John Mayer. Since 1949, B.B. has named all of his guitars “Lucille,” regardless of make and model, but the black Gibson ES-355 Custom is certainly the model most identified with that legendary name. This example was signed by the master himself.
Slide guitar master Ry Cooder has lent his skill to recordings from the Rolling Stones, Randy Newman, Captain Beefheart and a host of others, but his movie soundtrack work on films like “Paris, Texas”, “Southern Comfort” and “Crossroads” is what put him on the pop culture map. Ry signed this Fender Stratocaster.
In the world of rock guitarists, there’s Eddie Van Halen and then there’s everyone else. Eddie is such a singular and revolutionary player, the instrument was fundamentally changed when Van Halen released their 1978 debut. When he built his legendary “Frankenstein” guitar out of spare parts in the ‘70s, he created an entirely new take on an old design. Largely due to Eddie's influence, this guitar configuration came to dominate the '80s. With its striped pattern of paint and electrical tape, it's among the most recognizable instruments in rock history. This version of the Frankenstein was built by Charvel and was played on stage by Eddie Van Halen in Orlando, Florida on April 12th, 2012.
In the pantheon of rock demigods, only one man has an entire style of rhythm named for him. Maybe the greatest rhythm guitarist of all time, Bo Diddley (born Ellas McDaniel) developed a chunky, rumba-based beat that could be traced all the way back to the tribal drums of Africa. More importantly, you could dance to it. With his undeniable charisma and double-entendre-filled lyrics, Bo crossed the cultural barriers of the ’50s and brought real rock ’n’ roll to the teenage masses. This incredible guitar was custom-built for Bo and he nicknamed it “The Mean Machine”.
The very first performer to take the stage at Woodstock, Richie Havens set the bar incredibly high for the acts that followed. He was asked to stretch his set far beyond the time he planned for, so Richie unleashed an absolutely incredible improvisational piece that came to be known as “Freedom”. This completely spontaneous expression of creativity became one of the most iconic moments of the festival. The Guild acoustic on display was Richie Haven’s instrument at Woodstock.
Hong Kong-based Cantopop superstar Sammi Cheng is one of Asia’s brightest stars and has sold over 25 million records throughout her career. She’s known for over-the-top costumes during her spectacular stage shows and the outfit on display is a perfect example of Sammi’s style. She wore it during her “Love Mi” tour in 2009.
Smiths frontman/brilliant solo artist/British icon/New York Dolls expert Steven Morrissey wore this blue mesh shirt in the 1990s.
The Beatles animated feature, ‘Yellow Submarine’, has become one of the most beloved artifacts of psychedelic culture. The film still creates new Beatles fans every year. Sit a four-year-old in front of ‘Yellow Submarine’, and you've just created a lifelong Beatle fan. That's a pretty cool gift to give a child. Love of The Beatles has got to be at least as important as an education, right? We own many of these original animation cels from the film, and they're all beautiful pieces of artwork.
This incredible guitar is a Jackson Disruptor model, and it's one of only two in existence. Conceived and designed by Orgy's Amir Derakh and Jackson guitars, it was featured on Orgy’s 2000 album ‘Vapor Transmission’, specifically on the songs “Opticon” and “Eyes-Radio-Lies”.
With his gigantic voice and charisma, Tom Jones is a like a Welsh version of Elvis Presley. The guy is simply larger than life. Always aware of his sly, overtly sexual stage presence, Tom wore this suit in live performances because the neoprene material made him sweat profusely. It’s all about showbiz, folks.
In March of ’58, at the absolute height of his fame, Elvis Presley was drafted into the army as private E. Presley, 53310761. Teenagers around the world gasped in shock at the thought of their beloved King being put in harm’s way. While stationed in West Germany, Elvis settled into the bizarre life of a superstar in the military. This dress uniform jacket was Elvis’s during that time. There was a silver lining for Elvis during his military service, though – he met future wife Priscilla (who was just 14 at the time) while in Germany.
Kiss’ stage costumes are the highest achievement in the fashion world. They are the coolest thing in the history of human endeavor. Ace Frehley wore this one at Dodger Stadium Halloween night 1998.
Everyone knows Kiss outfits are the coolest things ever. Peter Criss rocked this one on the opening night of the ‘Psycho Circus’ tour at Dodger Stadium, Halloween night 1998. He also appeared on the cover of ‘Modern Drummer’ magazine in this little number.
Here’s Paul Stanley’s outfit from the opening night of Kiss’ ‘Psycho Circus’ tour in 1998. They kicked off the tour on Halloween night at Dodger Stadium. You can be sure they kicked ass. There was probably pyro. And confetti. And girls backstage.
Kiss’ demon bass player/accountant/business genius, Gene Simmons, hit the stage at Dodger Stadium on Halloween night 1998 in this amazing bit of wardrobe. We’ve seen a lot of Kiss costumes over the years, and the evolution in their construction is fascinating. In the ’70s, these things were little more than pinned-together foam bits on spandex. Now they’re elaborately fabricated works of art.
Here’s a typed copy of the lyrics to “Are You Experienced?” signed by Hendrix himself. Awesome.
Sammy Davis Jr
The Candyman rocked this exceedingly tiny overcoat during his offstage hours.
Lady Gaga is much more than just the latest occupant of the house that Madonna built – she’s a deeply talented musician, songwriter and performance artist much more akin to legends like David Bowie and Jim Morrison than to the fickle world of pop. Her ability to be provocative and challenging while appealing to a mass audience is unmatched in the 21st century. This black patent leather cape was worn by Lady Gaga at the 2009 American Music Awards.
Liza Minelli has been in the public eye as an actress and personality for so long that it’s easy to forget what an amazing singer she is. She owned this Art Deco enamel pin.
From her legendary live albums in the ‘60s to her electro-pop collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys in 1989, Liza Minelli has left an indelible mark on the music world. She owned this Rachel Weissman watch.
The legendary Liza was extra lovely in this string of pearls. They’re from her personal collection.
It's hard to believe that an artist of Buddy Holly's stature and influence never saw age 23. His shadow still looms large over the pop world more than half a century after his death. Buddy wore this linen suit during his 1957 tour.
Stevie Nicks has transcended the role of rock singer to become an icon of music, culture and fashion. This lovely vintage silver bracelet belonged to Stevie.
Fleetwood Mac chanteuse and solo superstar Stevie Nicks owned this vintage enamel pin.
The force of nature that was Janis Joplin wore this tasseled silk shawl onstage with her post-Big Brother group, the Kozmic Blues Band.
Lynyrd Skynrd’s mega-anthem “Freebird” has become such a huge part of the cultural landscape that it has transcended the notion of a mere rock jam. Everyone knows the song, it’s become a teenage rite of passage, its iconic slide guitar bit and blistering solos are must-learn pieces for any budding guitarist and its name has been shouted out by drunken rock fans at every gig played by every band in the world for the last 30+ years in what has become a tired old cliché. There really isn’t a more recognizable and beloved song in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington used this oddball ’72 SG Deluxe on stage with Skynyrd.
Ever the gracious rock star, Marc Bolan sent this poem to a fan who’d recently started a magazine. Marc offers to let the fan use his work. That’s a pretty generous offer and something you’d never see in today’s money-obsessed, litigation-happy world. Check out how Marc signs off, “Be well in pain and peace...”
Gwen Stefani wore this lovely little ensemble onstage and in the pages of ‘People’ magazine as one of the “Top Ten Trendsetters of 1997”
Hard Rock's memorabilia collection is like guitar geek nirvana. Name a killer vintage axe and chances are we have one (or ten). This one's a monster: Former Jefferson Airplane/Moby Grape mainstay Skip Spence's custom J-200. Skip ordered it from Gibson in '65 and took delivery in '66. This all-maple jumbo represents the pinnacle of Gibson's legendary flat top guitar line.
WEST, BRUCE AND LAING
Here’s another great handwritten lyric sheet from the Hard Rock collection: “The Doctor” from West, Bruce, and Laing’s killer 1972 debut, ‘Why Dontcha’. After the breakup of Cream, Jack Bruce dove headlong into another blistering power trio by teaming up with Mountain vets Leslie West and Corky Laing. If anything, WB&L were twice as heavy as Cream and three times louder. Go out and find a West, Bruce, and Laing album right now.
Ronnie James Dio
Diminutive, demon-voiced and devastating, Ronnie James Dio had, quite possibly, the greatest throat in metal. The noise that came out of the guy's face was unbelievable. From his time with Rainbow through his tenure with Black Sabbath and his wonderfully over-the-top solo band, RJD set the standard for virtuosity in heavy metal. The man even popularized the “devil horns” hand gesture that's become ubiquitous at metal gigs. Ronnie donated this outfit from his 1985 ‘Sacred Heart’ tour while on tour in Japan with Heaven and Hell in support of Hard Rock's ‘Ambassadors of Rock’ concert series.
The Rolling Stones
If you don't think this is cool, Hard Rock is probably not for you. This super-iconic Rolling Stones logo rendered in neon light is the definition of awesome. Designed by John Pasche, who was a student at the time, this logo is far and away the most recognized bit of rock ’n’ roll branding ever. John was only paid £50 for this logo, but he was able to parlay the fame into a long and successful design career.