Elvis' sheepskin jacket, Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitar and the jewelry Madonna wore for the cover of her breakout album "Material Girl" all have new homes in Anchorage. The items are among about 100 pieces of music memorabilia now hanging inside the soon-to-open Hard Rock Café downtown.
On Tuesday, staff were busy practicing their jobs -- serving one another a variety of food and drinks -- to get ready for the restaurant's grand opening Saturday. Through the bustle of activity, Hard Rock International's music and memorabilia historian Jeff Nolan led media on a tour of the rock 'n' roll items dotting the walls of the 275-seat restaurant.
Nolan loves his job. A musician, he said his passion is music and its history.
"I am the designated music nerd," Nolan said.
Hard Rock International -- owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida -- has 175 locations in more than 50 countries. The Anchorage location will be its newest. And, like most Hard Rock Cafés, the Anchorage store will include a smattering of local memorabilia. A full outfit worn by band members of Portugal. The Man is displayed in the upstairs bar area. The band, now based in Portland, Oregon, has its roots in Wasilla.
But the most cherished Alaska music memento is a guitar, picture and plaque dedicated to a band many have never heard of but that was influential in its day. Pandemonium was formed in 1978 by three brothers -- David, Chris and Eric Resch of Fairbanks. After moving to Los Angeles in 1980, the group grew and played with such metal heavyweights as Ratt, Black Sabbath and Great White. Metallica opened for the band in 1981. The group had modest success on the metal scene and recorded three albums with Metal Blade Records -- becoming the first band from Alaska to land a major record deal. Opening for Scorpion in 1984, the band became the first act ever to play at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
"It's in a really prominent spot," Nolan said of the Pandemonium display. "If you walk into the Hard Rock in Anchorage, Alaska, you can't miss it."
Other items adorning the new restaurant are a sequined bra from Colombian pop sensation Shakira and part of a wall from New York City's legendary punk rock club CBGB, as well as a custom-designed stage outfit worn by Sir Elton John.
The memorabilia are just a sample of the Hard Rock's collection, estimated at more than 80,000 pieces. Nolan declined to put a monetary value on the collection. His interest is in its history.
"I think the monetary collector value of this stuff is the least interesting thing about it," Nolan said.
While the Rock Shop -- selling Hard Rock Café T-shirts and memorabilia -- is now open, the restaurant itself is still closed, as staff prepare it for a grand opening Saturday, according to Hard Rock managers.
By SEAN DOOGAN