Isaac Tigrett grew up in Jackson, Tennessee and was deeply touched by the music of West Tennessee and the South. He is best known for creating and then building two of the most recognizable brands ever created: The Hard Rock Café and The House of Blues.
A series of life changing events, the tragic death of his younger brother, a few months later his older brother, and the divorce of his parents had a resounding effect. Isaac began to experience voices, what he later came to know as messages from Sai Baba, an Avatar in his second incarnation, living in India. For years Isaac researched and traveled in an effort to find the then unknown source of the disconcerting voices he was hearing.
As a gift for his mother, Isaac decided to ship a Rolls Royce from London to Jackson, but as the car was being unloaded off the boat in New York, someone offered him many times his original investment. He began importing used British ultra luxury cars to the U.S. making enough money to start the Hard Rock Café in London. He offered his friend, Peter Morton, half interest if Peter’s father would match Isaac’s investment, Peter’s dad refused to invest. Isaac gave Peter half interest anyway.
In his youth Isaac was struck by the resonance he felt from the Chevrolet Emblem. He decided to pattern the first Hard Rock logo in that shape and asked Alan Aldridge, the world famous Beatles designer to refine it. The result became one of the most familiar and positive brands ever created.
By this time Isaac, a Christian, had located Sai Baba, a now world famous holy man and Avatar, Isaac become a devotee and he began to study this holy man’s teaching. All aspects of The Hard Rock Café were based on the lessons of this Hindu Master. Love All, Serve All became the foundation for what would become an international business. Isaac understood that in Europe and in the U.K., an extremely class driven society, the social revolution with rock music as its soundtrack, could be symbolized by the first “class-less” restaurant. It was an instant success on June 14, 1971.
Almost everyone on the planet knows that the first Hard Rock Cafe was opened in London, but very few know the second HRC was not in New York in 1984, or Toronto, or Los Angeles. Seriously, you can win a bar bet with this information!
The second Hard Rock Cafe was opened in Jackson, TN. A place reverently mentioned on the menus and on the walls of the Hard Rock in London as the hometown of Isaac Tigrett and the place from which Isaac admits he drew his inspiration. It said on the menu, God Bless Jackson, Tennessee.
Isaac opened his second Hard Rock Cafe in Jackson, TN on January 20, 1983. He opened New York in 1984 and in Sweden in 1985 and Dallas in 1986. Growth was beginning to happen so quickly, in so many cities, that it’s hard to keep up with the exact time line, but today the Hard Rock has 191 locations, 157 cafes, 23 hotels and 11 Casinos.
Twenty years, to the day, after founding the Hard Rock, Isaac sold and made the proceeds available to Sai Baba for a 300 bed, free hospital for the poor in one of the most impoverished areas of India. Isaac directed all aspects of the creation that had been based entirely on the divine vision of Sai Baba. It opened November 22, 1991, with Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao on hand with 3 open heart surgeries, just one year from the start of planning. The facility was designed by Professor Keith Kritchlow who was given a Chair by the King of Saudi Arabia at the Royal College in London. The building’s central dome extends up and intersects with an invisible mirror-image of the entire facility above it, forming what looks like an hourglass.
While the Hard Rock Cafe became the first and most successful themed food and drink venue on the planet, Isaac had another vision. He wanted to bring the power of Blues and folk art together and design the most perfectly scaled, music venue ever created, each in a major city. Isaac’s vision for the power and the feeling of this ultimate live music venue was profoundly religious. The power of this music, from the heart, and the pain and the fury of life found expression in the original House of Blues symbol, which he again directed Alan Aldridge to design.
A few weeks prior to opening the Chicago House of Blues, the most beloved Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Bernadin wrote a letter to the Chicago Tribune, as he lay dying of cancer. Bernadin objected to the use of the logo which the Cardinal interpreted as the sacred heart of Jesus Christ and the crown of thorns. The city of Chicago immediately suspended all the previously approved permits until the Cardinal’s objections could be addressed. Dan Akroyd, Isaac’s partner went with Isaac to try and save their opening schedule. They raced to the hospital, worked for hours addressing the Cardinal’s concerns and at one point Akroyd leaned over to Isaac and whispered, “Don’t you think it’s a little absurd that two guys like us are negotiating for the “Sacré-Cœur”. They reached an agreement and revised the logo, the Cardinal signed an endorsement… and died hours later.
Few people know that both The House of Blues and The Hard Rock Café have the same Mission Statement:
To create a profitable, principled global entertainment company,
Celebrating the diversity and brotherhood of world cultures through music and art,
Promoting racial and spiritual harmony through Love, Peace, Truth, Righteousness and Non-Violence.
This symbol is the Sarva Dharma. It symbolizes one of the most profound teachings and was one of many religious images symbolizing the teachings of Sai Baba. Beneath it was the phrase, One God, Many Paths. Sai Baba never presented himself as a messiah figure. He welcomed followers of all faiths as seekers of the same God. The symbols of the world’s religions are displayed in its outer ring. For more see: http://www.jackson-tn.com/the-tigretts/spiritual-journey/