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May 21, 2019

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Here are 21 things to love about the Hard Rock Hotel as it turns 21

One year at The Joint

Erik Kabik/

Paul McCartney performs at The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada April 19, 2009. RD / Kabik / Retna Digital

The Hard Rock Hotel has come of age. In March, the purple-hued landmark on Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue turned 21.

And we’re still celebrating.

Here are 21 Things We Love about HRH. As they say, let’s rock:

21: Added to the blackjack pit this year: aerial artists!

20: The former Viva Las Vegas Lounge, which occupied the space now taken by the hotel’s Cantor Gaming sports book, was often called “the side bar.” Further, it was nicknamed “Judge Ito’s,” playing off “side bar,” because as the hotel opened, the O.J. Simpson trial was ongoing and that moniker was a reference to Judge Lance Ito.

19: Periodically, drunken guests attempt to pilfer the tip jar at Fuel coffee shop near the Flamingo Road entrance. This happens once a month or so, and the staff is always on alert.

18: The 4,400-square-foot Suite 1168 in the Casino Tower was transformed into a set for the 25th anniversary of MTV’s “The Real World” in January 2010.

17: The solidly fulfilling restaurant Pink Taco opened in 1999, so long ago that we have almost forgotten the controversy surrounding its name when it was announced.

16: Celebs who attended the opening gala in March 1995: Jack Nicholson, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, Tim Allen, Nicolas Cage, Ellen DeGeneres, Salt-N-Pepa, Tim Burton, Dean Cain, Nikki Sixx, Christy Turlington & Jason Patric, Steve Young, Stephen Dorff, Daphne Zuniga, Kelly Emberg, James Woods, Bridget Hall, Alicia Silverstone, Kelsey Grammer, John Corbett, Lara Flynn Boyle, Corbin Bernsen, Sandra Bernhard, Stephen Baldwin, Brendan Fraser, Kate Pierson, Antonio Sabato Jr., Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola, David Justice, Sherilyn Fenn and Laura San Giacomo.

15: Memorable sightings on a single night at Center Bar from 1996: David Schwimmer of “Friends,” Emilio Estevez and then-NFL defensive lineman Steve Emtman.

14: Opening show at the old Joint on March 11, 1995: The Eagles, during their “Hell Freezes Over” tour.

13: Closing show at the old Joint on Feb. 7, 2009: A roaring concert by Mötley Crüe.

12: Iconic performances: Rolling Stones in 2002 (the “fire code” concert, as the crowd swelled beyond the room’s 2,000 capacity); Aerosmith in 2002.

11: Lesser-known but fantastic shows from the old Joint: Gipsy Kings in 1996, Joe Jackson in 2001, John Mayer in 2002, Green Day in 2004 (playing “American Idiot” in its entirety).

10: The classic comment from Mayer: “I would gamble if, when I won, I got paid in shoes.”

9: The opening-weekend performance by Paul McCartney at the new Joint in April 2009, when his encores — the encores — lasted 35 minutes, or longer than most concerts performed by The Beatles.

8: The band on opening night was called The Wayne Neutron. The lineup: Duff McKagan on bass and vocals, Matt Sorum on drums, Teddy Andreadis on keyboard, and Gilby Clarke and Izzy Stradlin on guitar.

7: The famed $7.77 Gambler’s Special at Mr. Lucky’s 24/7 (good with an HRH Backstage Pass players card). That’s a steak, mashed potatoes, grilled shrimp — and not on the menu. Ask your server.

6: Best-ever show at Vinyl: Imagine Dragons, for a Southwest Airlines promotion, Feb. 23, 2015.

5: Lest we forget he headlined Vinyl: Andrew Dice Clay was that room’s comedy star from 2013-15.

4: The forerunner of the “mini-residency,” Carlos Santana has played more shows at the Joint than any other artist, 73 in all.

3: When the hotel opened, it offered 350 guest rooms. It now offers 1,505 rooms in three towers.

2: The venerable nightclub Body English has opened and closed — twice — and is being renovated once more for Channing Tatum’s “Magic Mike Live!” male revue opening in spring.

1: Though never actually put to the test, it was said that the series of musical notes enwrapping the globe over the old Center Bar played The Beatles’ “Across The Universe.”

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