Category Archives: Americans Abroad

The Hard Rock Cafe

The one, the only (at the time), the original Hard Rock Cafe.

Before the empire — the chain, the hotels, the casinos, even before the huge collection of rock memorabilia and the now ubiquitous t-shirts, there was this: a joint in London serving up Schlitz beer and real American hamburgers and fries and milk shakes and rock-n-roll.  Opened on June 14, 1971 by Americans Peter Morton and Isaac Tigrett at 150 Old Park Lane in London (in an old Rolls Royce dealership) it quickly became the place to go even for real rock-n-rollers.  Paul McCartney and Wings were the first band to play live there (1973).  Carole King loved the burgers so much she wrote an ode to the place which became a huge hit.  And Eric Clapton started the memorabilia collection in 1979 by giving Peter and Isaac one of his guitars.  Not to be outdone, Pete Townsend quickly left one of his with the note: “Mine’s as good as his! Love, Pete”.

For us Young Americans abroad the Hard Rock represented and America we didn’t know first hand and only really learned about when George Lucas’s American Grafitti hit town.  After that, we HAD to go to the Hard Rock and, thanks to our giant platform shoes, we were even able to score some Schlitz.  

BTW, the concert Wings was warming up for with their impromptu gig at the Hard Rock was the one we saw with Mother’s boyfriend of the moment, comedy writer, Herb Sargent.  Herb used to drive mother crazy by tossing her cigarettes out of the taxi which made Robbie and I laugh a lot.  He’d flown all the way to London to see her and we would have been happy if it had worked out; he was a good guy.

T-Rex and the Young Americans

“The Groover”
If, as the song says, music can save your soul, then the Glam Rock of early 70s London definitely saved mine.  This footage was shot May 3, 1973 just as Robbie and I and our wild expat friends were stepping out and away all over London while our parents partied and went crazy.  We were truly becoming Bowie’s “Young Americans” and T-Rex was performing a great deal of our soundtrack.

Bands of Roaming Expat Kids

Clowning in a photo booth in London with my friend Lynn. 

While our parents were partying it up 70s style, my friends and I at ASL were roaming the city of London going to concerts, stores, restaurants and, on one occasion, sneaking into the Osmond Brother’s hotel so one of us could meet Donny.  Thanks for the photo, Lynn!