Hard Rock Cafe Berlin Memorabilia
Like David Bowie, Annie Lennox is one of rock’s true chameleons. She broke out with an arresting, androgynous look when Eurythmics took the pop world by storm in ’83 with “Sweet Dreams” (remember how shocking Annie’s close-cropped orange hair seemed back then?) and recalibrated her image with every subsequent release. By the mid ’80s, when she hit the stage in this red brassiere, there was nothing androgynous about Ms. Lennox – she was a dead-sexy, massively empowered soul-singing powerhouse.
This is one of our better pieces of Elvis memorabilia. In 1959, the King was in the army and serving in Germany. He was receiving hundreds of pieces of mail from his fans back home who were beside themselves at the loss of their idol. Since it would have been impossible for Elvis to pen a personal response to each fan, he wrote a form letter that would be sent to those who wrote. This is the original hand written draft of that letter. It must have been difficult for Elvis to craft a letter that would seem personal, yet be generic enough to cover most fan questions. Check out where Elvis writes about the marriage rumors that were surrounding him at the time. He denies them outright, but it was while serving in Germany that he began seeing a (very) young Priscilla Beaulieu. They wed in 1967.
This crazy-looking thing is known as a "ukelin". It belonged to writer/producer/multi-instrumentalist/50% of Eurythmics Dave Stewart. A ukelin is a sort of cross between a ukulele, a zither, a violin, a dulcimer, and a fever dream. These were sold door-to-door from about the 1920s through the 1950s and are surprisingly common for such an oddball instrument. Check your attic – your grandparents may have stashed one up there decades ago. It’s played with a bow, like a violin, but the chords are fingered like a ukulele.
Peter Albin and Janis Joplin
Here’s a contract for Big Brother’s 1968 performance at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. It was signed by guitarist Peter Albin. Check out the 2nd page – it specifies a sound system of “not less than 225 watts”. That’s really not much juice. For some perspective, the typical rock nightclub these days is running at least 3000 watts. Maybe Janis’ voice was so powerful she just didn’t need much sound reinforcement.
East German chanteuse Nina Hagen is one of those artists that absolutely defies easy categorization. She’s like an opera singer/punk rocker/performance artist/goth icon, but even all those descriptives fail to convey her wide-ranging talent and overall weirdness. A much more simple and accurate description of Nina is that she’s a true original. If you’re not familiar with her, seek out her 1982 album Nunsexmonkrock and prepare to have your mind blown. Nina rocked this faux-fur jacket both on and off stage.
This completely over-the-top leather, silver, and turquoise belt was made for Elvis by Mike McGregor and the King wore it onstage often in the early ’70s. As cool as this belt is, it sort of represents everything that went wrong with Elvis’ career and foreshadows the cartoonishness of his later years.
1979 Fender Stratocaster
Germany’s legendary power rock juggernaut, Scorpions, are kind of like a Teutonic version of the Yardbirds – both bands have had three absolutely amazing lead guitarists pass through the group. The Yardbirds may have had Clapton, Beck, and Page, but Scorpions had Michael Schenker, Uli John Roth, and Matthias Jabs. That’s an embarrassment of metal riches. Jabs has been the longest-serving Scorpions axeman and he may very well be the best of the bunch. This ’79 Strat hardtail is from Matthias’ arsenal and he used it on the 2004 album Unbreakable.
This jacket saw the birth of heavy metal up-close. Black Sabbath’s genius guitarist, Tony Iommi, bought it in ’69 and wore it on Sabbath’s very first tours. All the patches and stickers were added by Tony along the way. It’s like a travelogue of heaviness and one of the coolest things in our collection.
This bizarre little East German Trabant automobile was one of many that hung around the gigantic stage set during U2’s 1993 Zoo TV tour. U2 took the stage prop thing a few levels too far in 1997, though. On the Popmart tour, they got stuck inside a giant lemon in front of tens of thousands of fans in what was certainly the ultimate Spinal Tap moment in rock history.
Jackson Dominion Guitar
If you’re going to tune your guitar down to subsonic depths and please Satan with your metal riffs, you’ve got to have the right tool for the job – like this Jackson Dominion. This is only the second Dominion ever produced and was used by Mark Morton on Lamb of God’s 2006 tour with Megadeth.
Lennon’s Shea Jacket
This military-style jacket is, quite possibly, the single most important piece of Beatles wardrobe in our collection. John Lennon wore it at the legendary, record-breaking 1965 show at Shea stadium. This was the first time a large-scale outdoor rock show really worked and it was a direct precursor to the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. Bizarrely, the fans were all kept in the stadium’s grandstands while the band was set up in the middle of the field – quite a distance away. With over 55,000 screaming Beatlemaniacs and the limited capabilities of mid-sixties sound systems, the Shea gig was virtually inaudible over the crowd. Concerts like this were one of the reasons the Beatles gave up touring, focused on studio work and produced ambitious masterpieces like Sgt. Pepper. This jacket was a witness to pop culture history on the back of John Lennon.
In the wake of the King’s sordid demise, no one was more vilified than Dr. George Nichopolous. Forever known as “Dr. Nick”, Nichopolous was Elvis’ personal physician and prescription writer. And Dr. Nick wrote a lot of ’scripts. Uppers, downers, laxatives, pain pills, tranquilizers – Elvis had a huge appetite for drugs. He was prescribed over 10,000 pills in 1977 alone. As it tends to do, drug abuse caught up with the King and took his life. This bottle is from Elvis’ stash, but it’s not very sinister. It’s a multi-vitamin pill.
Alembic Series II “Exploiter” Bass
This was the Ox's main axe from the day he received it in 1976 until it failed him onstage at Live Aid in 1985. With its gold spider web inlays, LED position markers, and gorgeous styling, this bass has become legendary among gear freaks. Alembic and John nicknamed it the “Exploiter” due to it’s obvious similarity to a Gibson Explorer. John had a couple more of these basses in his collection – one with a “split V” headstock (which we also have on display) and a monstrous 8-string version.