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Hard Rock celebrates 25th aniversary with new memorabilia exhibit

Think of the way the notes resound when a guitar chord is struck, how they hang in the air for a bit, filling the room.

It’s the same with the memories here.

They linger in Christina Aguilera’s barely there outfit from her “Drrty” video shoot, in Pete Townshend’s smashed-to-smithereens acoustic guitar, in James Brown’s dark green jumpsuit with the neckline that plunges like a waterfall, the word “sex” spelled out multicolored beads below the waist just in case it was unclear where the man was coming from.

Beau Dobney takes it all in. It’s his latest creation.

“What’s been so nice for me is to be here and talk to folks as they see everything,” the memorabilia and exhibit coordinator at the Hard Rock Hotel notes. “Where these memories take them. What it jars. What it jogs.”

Dobney is surveying the recently opened memorabilia exhibition he curated to commemorate the property’s 25th anniversary.

The 2,600-square-foot exhibit, which is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays to Mondays through Dec. 31, spans eras and genres alike. There are numerous rare and never-before-seen items here, featuring artists from ZZ Top to Nine Inch Nails, Bo Diddley to Britney Spears.

There’s even a wall dedicated to the origins of the Hard Rock Hotel itself, including the shovels and hardhats used by Eddie Van Halen, B.B. King and Chris Isaak during the property’s 1994 groundbreaking ceremonies.

Playing tour guide, Dobney shared the stories behind a handful of the exhibit’s many storied pieces:

Ginger Spice dress

Worn during the Spice Girls’ appearance at the 1997 BRIT Awards

“This is one of my favorites. This was a Gucci dress that was provided to her by her stylist. She took the dress and said, ‘Not good enough,’ and went to her sister and got these heirlooms, these Union Jack tea towels and, against her stylist’s advice, sewed these on the front and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ Even though she is this massive pop star at the time and very much on the rise, given the year, she was like, ‘Nope, I’m going to do what I want to do.’ Not only is it an iconic piece, it’s such a cool nod to trusting your gut.”

Hard Rock exhibition coordinator Beau Dobney talks about the Spice Girls' Geri Halliwell Union ...
Hard Rock exhibition coordinator Beau Dobney talks about the Spice Girls' Geri Halliwell Union Jack Dress at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Jimi Hendrix drawing

Titled “The Walking Man,” this psychedelic illustration was the late guitar wizard

“Typically, we hear Jimi, but this is his drawing. I’d like to think he was on the tour bus, high on life — very high on life — at the time. This was during the 1968 ‘Axis’ tour. This is right when felt-tip markers kind of hit the market. This has been hiding away. It was bought in auction eight years ago and hasn’t seen the light of day yet.”

"A Walking Man" by Jimi Hendrix at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Ho ...
"A Walking Man" by Jimi Hendrix at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. The exhibit will run in the former John Varvatos store through Jan. 31. The hotel will shut down the first week of February, re-launching as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in late 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Elton John Dodgers outfit

The iconic outfit recently revisited in the hit biopic “Rocketman”

“This is the Bob Mackie-made costume he wore for the two-day performance at Dodger Stadium, 1975. Given that the movie just came out, it’s massive. We’ve had this in our collection for over 15 years. This was purchased at auction from Sotheby’s.”

Elton John's Dodgers outfit at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Veg ...
Elton John's Dodgers outfit at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Johnny Cash shirt and guitar

Cash wore this shirt when he served as grand marshal of the 1976 American Bicentennial Grand Parade in Washington, D.C.; the guitar is equally vintage

“This is a Nudie Cohn-made shirt. He had this made specifically for this bicentennial parade. This has been out on the floor several times. It’s just a special shirt. This guitar is from the live album, ‘Survivors,’ that he did with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in the mid-’70s. It somehow got to an auction and got purchased, and then brought back to Johnny Cash to have him inscribe a verse from ‘I Walk the Line’ on it. He can be seen on the cover of the album (with the guitar).”

Johnny Cash embroidered bicentennial long sleeve shirt by designer Nudie Cohn at a new rock mem ...
Johnny Cash embroidered bicentennial long sleeve shirt by designer Nudie Cohn at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Al Hirschfeld illustrations

Caricatures of Cher and Madonna are an homage to the Hard Rock’s now-shuttered AJ’s Steakhouse, where they once hung

“At any given time in this restaurant, you would find random Hollywood stars and rock stars hanging out, having dinner. This is the caliber of art we had in there. Al Hirschfeld, he was a caricaturist for The New Yorker and several other publications. He was known for hiding his daughter’s name in the artwork. You can find little sketches, ‘Nina,’ hidden away. These are limited-edition prints of Hirschfeld. He had a career of 70 years, sketching everyone from (Lady) Gaga to (Greta) Garbo.”

Madonna by Al Hirschfeld at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas ...
Madonna by Al Hirschfeld at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. The exhibit will run in the former John Varvatos store through Jan. 31. The hotel will shut down the first week of February, re-launching as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas in late 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nikki Sixx’s motorcycle

Skull-festooned ride belonged to the Mötley Crüe bassist

“This is Nikki Sixx’s custom bike. … It was built by the Hells Angels. … These were the bikes that were in the main entryway in the late ’90s here at the Hard Rock, so a lot of day one-ers who have worked here, a lot of folks who have been here back in the heyday have come in and said, ‘Oh, my gosh. These are the bikes!’ ”

Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx's custom Harley Davidson Hardtail Springer at a new rock memorabilia e ...
Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx's custom Harley Davidson Hardtail Springer at a new rock memorabilia exhibit at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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