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Joe Jackson’s guitar unveiled as first piece of memorabilia at Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana

By Josh Bootsma

GARY, Ind. (April 8, 2021) – Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana unveiled its 37-foot marquee on Thursday, as well as the guitar it was modeled after — Joe Jackson’s 1961 Supro Airline Town & Country.

The short, rainy event featured Matt Schuffert, President of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, who thanked the construction teams who helped make the 200,000 square foot complex a reality. Opening on Friday May 14 at 6 p.m., the casino and entertainment complex is located just south of the 80-94 expressway at the Burr Street exit.

Hard Rock Casino
President of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana Matt Schuffert made remarks thanking the construction teams represented behind him during Thursday’s event. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Guitar history

According to Hard Rock International Director of Memorabilia Design Giovanni Taliaferro, Joe Jackson told his children they were strictly forbidden from touching his guitar. His musically gifted son Tito did, however, and once broke a string on the guitar, which Joe Jackson noticed. After fixing the string, Joe asked Tito to play, and the young guitarist was joined by his brothers Jackie and Jermaine in song. Joe was impressed, and after Michael and Marlon Jackson showed an affinity for music as well, The Jackson 5 began to take the world by storm.

Hard Rock Casino
Hard Rock International Director of Memorabilia Design Giovanni Taliaferro explained the significance of Joe Jackson’s 1961 guitar. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

The Jackson family is a symbol of pride for residents of the the region, and The Jackson 5’s childhood home is located in Gary, just four miles east of the casino.

On Thursday morning, the storied guitar was placed on a display stand in front of the massive replica it inspired. It will be the first of many pieces of memorabilia on display in the new entertainment complex.

Hard Rock Casino
Joe Jackson’s guitar is shielded from the rain near the base of the 37-foot replica it inspired. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana

According to a Hard Rock press release, the new facility will have “1600 slots and 80 table games totaling more than 2,100 gaming positions. It will have five food venues including Hard Rock Café, Council Oak Steaks and Seafood, YouYu Noodle Bar, Fresh Harvest Buffet and a Constant Grind Coffee Shop. It will also feature an on-site sportsbook, a retail shop, and a 1,954-seat Hard Rock Live performance venue.”

The venue opens on Friday, May 14 at 6 p.m. and is located at 5400 W 29th Avenue, Gary, IN. More information is available at


Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.