Hard Rock Cafe New York Memorabilia
When Jimmy Page emerged from the ashes of the Yardbirds with a new rock juggernaut called Led Zeppelin, the world of music changed forever. Some called it heavy metal, but it was so much more. Influenced by everything from middle-eastern ragas to rockabilly and classic soul, Led Zeppelin’s impact on the generations of musicians that followed is difficult to overstate. Every rock band today is, to some degree, influenced by Led Zeppelin. Much of that is due to their absolutely brilliant drummer John Bonham. This extra-groovy white suit belonged to Bonham. He got from hipster London boutique ‘Granny Takes a Trip’.
In the pantheon of rock demigods, only one man has an entire style of rhythm named for him. Maybe the greatest rhythm guitarist of them all, 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 is his first guitar. He built it himself in 1945. To call it primitive is an understatement (the frets aren’t even correctly spaced), but it’s a perfect example of necessity breeding rockin’ invention.
This is an original draft – in Jimi’s own hand – of the song “Midnight Lightning”. This song was performed live at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, but a studio version wasn’t released until 1975 – 5 years after Hendrix’ death. The stylized handwriting and doodles are pure Jimi.
This guitar is quite possibly the single most important piece of music history in this collection. It’s Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath’s Gibson SG. Heavily customized by British guitar builder John Birch, this instrument forged the template of heavy metal. The first five Black Sabbath albums – all universally acknowledged as genre-defining classics – were recorded with this guitar. “Paranoid”, “War Pigs”, “Iron Man”, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, “Symptom of the Universe” – this guitar did it all. Heavy metal was invented on this humble guitar. Kneel before its power.
Jack Bruce originally started playing this unusual Fender Bass VI in his pre-Cream days with the Graham Bond Organisation. Then it was one of his main instruments with Cream, from the group’s beginning through their Disraeli Gears period. In 1967, he had the psychedelic paint job done by Dutch artists The Fool. While the new look was cool, paint had dripped into the electronics – rendering the bass unreliable. By the end of ’67, Jack had retired the Bass VI and later gave it to Mountain frontman Leslie West.
New York Dolls
The list of bands influenced by seminal NYC glam/punk group New York Dolls is far too gigantic for this website. But you could start by mentioning EVERY SINGLE PUNK BAND THAT EVER EXISTED. The Dolls were New York City’s rock ’n’ roll gift to the world – extra sleazy, super irreverent, unbelievably cool. Kind of like this badass, ripped-up, Chuck Berry t-shirt. Bass player Arthur Kane is sporting this little fashion statement in the back photo of the Dolls’ 1974 album, Too Much Too Soon. When it was offered for sale at a Christie’s auction, it just had to go to the Hard Rock.