My Hard Rock journey began in 1970, when we moved from Los Angeles to London.

The Great American Disaster, Peter Morton’s first burger joint, was our neighborhood go-to. 

His next venture switched me onto rock music for life: the high-decibel Hard Rock Cafe and its guitar-decked walls, co-launched with Isaac Tigrett in June 1971.

Rock is also my Atlantic City touchstone, since first coming here in 1989 to see the Stones at Boardwalk Hall.

In April 2017, these worlds converged at a press conference inside Hard Rock Cafe Atlantic City, where Chairman Jim Allen confirmed Hard Rock International’s transformation of the Taj Mahal into Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

“We believe in Atlantic City, we believe in the state of New Jersey, and we truly believe Atlantic City’s best days are in front of it,” stated Allen at the June 2018 unveiling of the $500 million makeover.  

In March 2019, I attended a weekend fam that included seeing Lionel Richie at 7,000-seat Etess Arena. Heading home on Sunday morning was not easy—I’m stuck on the place.

Lionel Richie Onstage at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
Lionel Richie Onstage at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

With its preeminent collection of rare and vintage memorabilia, the resort doubles as a bona fide rock and roll museum.  

The brand’s trademark giant guitar is a 60-foot-tall cherry red Gibson Les Paul.

Suspended Ceiling Les Paul, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Credit: Jeff Heilman
Suspended Ceiling Les Paul, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Credit: Jeff Heilman

Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom sits just inside along with the Beatles’ early tour outfits and the 1971 London menu.

Beatles and Elvis Memorabilia, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Credit: Jeff Heilman
Beatles and Elvis Memorabilia, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Credit: Jeff Heilman

Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen headline the New Jersey section.

There are stage outfits and other effects from Elton John, Lady Gaga, Tom Petty, Prince and Frank Sinatra, and much more. 

“Bringing our collection to life creates memorable storytelling for guests,” said Jeff Nolan, Hard Rock International’s music and memorabilia historian. 

“Music is exciting for everyone, which gives us a competitive advantage over price,” said Shelley Williams, vice president of sales at the property. “That, along with our unique and flexible venues, already has us ahead of booking pace.”

The 2,000-room property offers 150,000-plus square feet of versatile space. Venues include Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena, accommodating 7,000 people for general sessions or 300-plus trade shows booths, and the divisible 29,000-square-foot Seminole Ballroom. 

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