Hard Rock Cafe Wins Elvis’ Piano

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(C) 2015 Bob Schatz

(C) 2015 Bob Schatz

Just when you thought the Hard Rock Cafe had enough prized rock history memorabilia, they’re throwing a new one into the mix – Elvis Presley’s iconic gold grand piano. The King of Rock and Roll originally purchased the piano (then walnut) for his mother in 1955, but many years later, after his mother’s death, Priscilla Presley decided to re-fashion it with 24-karat gold-leaf finish for the couple’s first wedding anniversary. Presley played it in his music room at his Graceland mansion in Memphis.

The Cafe acquired the piano with a winning bid of $600,000 at the recent Icons & Idols: Rock ‘n Roll Auction event at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills on November 7th. “While we are still deciding where this piece will reside within our properties, the front-runner at the moment would be the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, fitting for one of the most successful casino properties in the world,” says Jerry Fraize, Director of Memorabilia for Hard Rock International and winning bidder on the piece.

The Hard Rock Cafe has been curating its priceless music collection for over four decades now – some 80,000 rare artifacts ranging from platinum LPs to clothing and instruments, belonging to rock ‘n’ roll musicians old and new. They’ve got Jimi Hendrix’s Gibson Flying V guitar, John Lennon’s handwritten draft of the lyrics to “Imagine,” and the Rolling Stones’ Vox Phantom Mark III guitar, to name a few.

Even the story of how the impressive collection started is the stuff of lore. It all began when Eric Clapton, a regular customer at the original Hard Rock Cafe London, asked the staff if he could hang his guitar on the wall to claim his favorite bar stool. They gave him the go-ahead, and one week later, received a package from Pete Townshend – he’d sent a Gibson Les Paul guitar and a note that said: “Mine’s as good as his! Love, Pete.”

Now with 80,000 prized pieces in their possession, Hard Rock International operates a total of 204 venues in 64 countries, including 157 cafes, 22 hotels and 11 casinos.

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