How The Joint at the Hard Rock changed Las Vegas’ music scene

Rehab, the Hard Rock Hotel pool party that throws its final bash on Sunday, is the first casualty in the hotel’s yearlong transformation into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. To celebrate the Hard Rock’s legacy, here’s a look back at The Joint.

Believe it or not, there was a time when your live-music options around the Strip were mostly limited to lounges, old-school showrooms or arenas. The only thing resembling a middle ground was the cavernous 7,500-seat Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Then on March 11, 1995, the Eagles brought their “Hell Freezes Over” tour, which had played Sam Boyd Stadium nine months earlier, to The Joint, with its capacity of just 2,000, and things were never the same. Acts you’d normally have to glimpse through binoculars were now right in front of you.

The Joint hosted a who’s who of rock — including The Who, whose bassist, John Entwistle, was found dead in his room at the hotel before a concert scheduled there in 2002. The Rolling Stones played The Joint twice, in 1998 — when you could have seen Sting, Gwen Stefani, Sheryl Crow and Tommy Hilfiger hanging out together — and again in 2002. David Bowie, Tom Petty and Guns N’ Roses also took the stage, all before a new 4,000-seat Joint opened in 2009 with a weekend of performances by Paul McCartney and The Killers.

To gauge the impact The Joint had on the city’s music scene, you need only to look at the bustling small-to-midsize venues that opened in its wake, including the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay (1999), the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (2003), The Pearl at the Palms (2007), The Chelsea (2013), Brooklyn Bowl (2014) and the Park Theater (2016).

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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