New Hard Rock Casino celebrates grand opening with guitar-smashing ceremony

Hard Rock Casino
(Image credit: nwitimestv)

A new $300 million Hard Rock Casino capped off its grand opening ceremony at the weekend with a six-string-smashing event that saw local musicians, politicians and casino administrators destroy a batch of acoustic guitars.

The event, which took place last Friday (May 14) at the new venue in Gary, Indiana, saw a number of special guests, including original Jackson 5 members and Gary residents Marlon and Tito Jackson, take to the stage to share a series of pre-smash speeches.

After such formalities, the ceremonial guitar-smash – a regular feature that has appeared at previous Hard Rock venue openings – invited Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath to join the Jackson brothers, and a number of others, on stage to do the honors.

As one, the assembled crew brought down their own acoustics on top of a display of Viper GE93-BK electric guitars, and, in doing so, formally opened the venue. Check out the super-slow-mo smash in the video below.

"I'm proud of my city Gary, Indiana," said Tito Jackson before the smash. "Being raised here, starting our musical journey here, going to school here, everything about the Jackson 5 and the Jackson family was rooted right here."

As is the case with any Hard Rock establishment, historical guitar-based statement pieces will form a key part of the attraction, with Tito and Marlon’s father Joe Jackson’s very own 1961 Airline Town & Country electric guitar having been inducted as the venue’s first piece of music memorabilia.

During a speech, Director of Memorabilia Design of Hard Rock International Giovanni Taliaferro said, “I am proud to announce that we have Joseph Jackson’s guitar that this monument is designed after, as well as a lot of other influences from within the property itself.

“This is the guitar,” he continued after displaying it on a guitar stand. “I want to thank the entire Jackson family for entrusting us with preserving and showcasing this precious artifact in their hometown of Gary, Indiana.”

Guitar smashing unexpectedly became a hot topic in 2021 after Phoebe Bridgers smashed a Danelectro '56 baritone on SNL earlier this year, which, at the time, was criticized by David Crosby and other Twitter users as "pathetic" and "extra".

Not long after the performance, the battered-and-bruised Danelectro was sold at auction for $100,000, securing over four times its expected selling price to raise money for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.