Local Rocker Turns Hard Rock Dream Into Reality

Hard Rock's official grand opening is Saturday afternoon. Those words are music to the ears of Gregg Giuffria. Giuffria is a long time coast musician who gambled on a dream, and won. For almost a decade, he's been telling anybody who would listen that Biloxi should have a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on its waterfront.

Hard Rock Biloxi's hotel puts a guest's key card inside the sleeve of a special CD. Groups like Cheap Trick are featured on the CD.

"When you hear that song again that's on here, you'll go gosh, that was at the opening of Hard Rock," bragged Gregg Giuffria.

Giuffria knows one of the songs on Hard Rock Biloxi's check in CD by heart. The resort's owner performed "Call to the Heart" in the mid 80s when he had long blonde hair.

"I've been very lucky. It's been a very exciting road," the Gulfport native said about his music career.

Two decades later, the spotlight is on Giuffria again, not for his musical talent, but for his vision. Since 1998, he's been pushing for a Hard Rock on the old Gold Shore site in downtown Biloxi. And what he dreamed up turned out exactly like he hoped.

"Yes it is," Giuffria said with a smile beaming across his face. "As things were starting to really happen down here in gaming, I came by and I looked at this site, and I said this is a great place, this would be a really good place for something."

It took Giuffria six years to convince Wall Street that his casino concept was worth a gamble. In 2004, Hard Rock construction started. In 2005, on the eve of one of Giuffria's greatest triumphs, Hurricane Katrina stole the show.

"I've never been a heavyweight fighter, obviously. But I can imagine being punched by Mike Tyson or something. That's what it felt like," he said.

So when Saturday gets here, and Giuffria gets to smash Hard Rock's ceremonial guitar, his casino journey in Biloxi will be complete. Before that moment, he spends time watching his first guests. "People are smiling and having a good time. The music is playing. And that's what I dreamed it would be," he said.