"I come from an old Southern family. They came over in covered wagons and founded Western Tennessee. They were in the plantation, lumber and railroad business. I grew up in a rural area which was 90% black. The first music I ever heard was gospel music."--Isaac Burton Tigrett
In the early 1950s John Burton Tigrett, Isaac's father, paid $800 for the Glub-Glub duck, a toy that bobs and appears to drink water. He eventually sold 22 million Glub-Glubs.
Isaac Burton Tigrett had been pursuing Maureen Starkey [ex-wife of Beatle, Ringo Starr] for some years. Finally Maureen began to return his affections, and they eventually married in Monte Carlo on May 27th, 1987. She gave birth to a daughter, Augusta King, shortly thereafter. Isaac soon became disenchanted with his Hard Rock Dream, deciding to sell it.[What follows is a brief history of Issac's career after his retirement from the Hard Rock Cafe.]
When Tigrett formulated the House of Blues, his intention was to bring something authentic to the world. Tigrett had been disappointed with the commercialism that developed as the Hard Rock Cafe, co-founded with Peter Morton in London in 1971, grew into an international chain of restaurants.Tigrett sold his interest in the company in 1988, and planned to lead a more spiritual life, but his spiritual teacher advised him to remain active in business. He conceived the House of Blues to preserve Blues music, the great American export, providing a forum and celebration of its live performance. He also viewed education about the history and social influence of the Blues, a way to cultivate multiculturalism, hence the company's slogan, "Unity in Diversity."
Tigrett opened the first House of Blues venue's 280-seat club and 200-seat restaurant in Harvard Square, November, 1992. As a native of Tennessee, the interior design of the restaurant & blues club presented a contemporary variation on the old SouthernJuke Joint dear to Tigrett . Artistic touches included African-American, Southern Folk and Outsider Art, as well as an inlaid 'Blues Heaven' ceiling, studded with 80 plaster panels of Blues men, the likes of Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson by artist, Andrew Wood.
Tigrett planned House of Blues venues in New Orleans, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities. To fund further projects Tigrett raised $32 million through private placement of 71% interest in the company. Surprisingly, the Harvard University Endowment Fund invested $10 million, commendingTigrett's creative vision and previous success. Other investors included James Belushi, brother of John Belushi, and members of Aerosmith.
Tigrett formed the "House of Blues Foundation" to develop a curriculum on the history and culture of the Blues and Blues-based music, spanning Plantation Slaves of the Mississippi Delta to its present-day, urban inner cities.
The New Orleans House of Blues opened in the French Quarter, January, 1994. The 27,000-square-foot facility housed a 1,000-seat concert hall and a 350-seat full-service restaurant. The interior featured a look similar to that of Cambridge, with the plaster relief portraits and Folk Art provided by Barrister's Gallery and other Southern Art Galleries. The grand opening featured renowned New Orleans blues artist, Dr. John, and a newly formed Blues Brothers Band with Dan Aykroyd, Andrew Strong, Carla Thomas, and local Bluesman Robert Jr. Lockwood.
Aerosmith played the March 1994 Grand Opening of the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. The $9 million project housed 1,000 seats in the concert hall, a $500,000 sound system, a 75-foot bar, and a movable wall on the second floor that could be raised for dinner viewing when the concert hall was full.Tigrett covered the front exterior of the three-story building with corrugated metal from a cotton mill in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where legendary Bluesman , Robert Johnson, sold his soul to the devil to play the Blues. The venue also housed the Foundation Room, a private club with membership based on a minimum donation of $2,200 to the educational foundation. The club featured a 70-seat luxury dining room and a lounge lushly decorated with East Indian fabrics, wood carvings, and art.Tigrett promoted the club by opening it to the entertainment elite, making the House of Blues the place to see and be seen.
Despite the opening of these new venues, the growth of the company was slower than expected, leading to conflicts between Tigrett and the board of directors. Tigrett wanted slow growth in order to build anticipation, but the board wanted rapid growth. Tigrett stepped down in October, 1994 at the behest of the board, which also expressed concern about Tigrett's liberal spending habits and the company's poor financial performance. Tigrett remained on the board as emeritus, while President Greg Trojan, who joined the company in 1996, became CEO.
In 1973 Isaac was so amazed by a book called The Secret Life Of Plants that he bought the movie rights to this best-seller which explored paranormal phenomena. A few months later he sold the rights to Warner Bros., on the condition that he could accompany the scriptwriters for the forthcoming documentary around the world to observe the phenomena described in the book. Eating breakfast one morning in the dining-room of a hotel in northern India while on this trip he heard a voice clearly saying, 'You've come at last. I've been waiting for you.' Turning around, he saw a picture on the wall of Sai Baba, whom he had never heard of and knew nothing about.
"He just came right over to me and said, 'You've come at last. I've been waiting for you.' " Baba then 'materialized' vibhuti in Tigrett's hand. "He said, wait here, we have many things that we are going to do together." It would be another 15 years, he said, before Baba spoke to him again.
"I was very cynical and very suspicious. I believe in the inner guru -- following your own heart -- not the outer guru. It had never occurred to me that it would be some sort of outer master that would draw me down the path."
TRANSCRIPT BBC interview 'The Secret Swami':
BBC Reporter, Tanya Datta: But even if it was proven to you that Sai Baba was a pedophile and a serial sex abuser, you¹re saying it wouldn't change the fact that he is your guru.
(Tigrett laughs at this.)
Isaac Tigrett: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. He could go out and murder someone tomorrow, as I said, it's not going to change my evolution; it's not going to change the good things that have come out of my relationship down there.
Tanya Datta: Does that mean that some part of you believes there could be some truth to the rumors?
Isaac Tigrett: Oh, absolutely I believe there is truth to the rumours.
Tanya Datta: You believe there is truth to the rumors?
Isaac Tigrett: Sure, there probably is, probably is.
Tanya Datta: This man was part of the hippie generation. But Isaac Tigrett also saw the age as a wonderful business opportunity. He's one of the founders of the world famous Hard Rock Café. He mixed burgers and beer with rock memorabilia to create a global phenomenon and a massive personal fortune.
Isaac Tigrett: India's so unique, it's so incredible. If there's a spiritual train then India is the engine. All this mysticism, all the strangeness that surrounds Sai Baba and all that stuff, this is the perfect home for it.
Isaac Tigrett: I said look I need to start a search, I need to go and look for what I think is a master, a guru, a spiritual leader, a teacher, something because of the hunger inside of me. I searched all over India, I went to every Ashram, every holy place. I heard about this obscure little guru, decided to go down there and there was a festival day, there was a huge crowd, and he parted the crowd and came right over to me, I was standing at the back and he said, "You've come at last, I've been waiting for you." So, he turned and said, "We have many things that we're going to do together...You wait right here." He didn't speak to me again for fifteen years.
Tanya Datta: Isaac Tigrett did some good works of his own. By the time Sai Baba spoke to him again he'd become an extremely rich man. When the guru told him of his dream for an ultra-modern hospital in the heart of Andhra Pradesh, Tigrett donated tens of millions of dollars. Prince Charles' architect, Keith Critchlow, who is also a Sai Baba devotee, was hired to design it. It was opened in 1991, and specialized in high-tech heart and kidney surgery--free of charge. Tigrett is convinced that the hospital, built on blood, sweat and burgers was worthy of his generosity. And certainly his guru was grateful.
Tanya Datta: Can you tell me how much you donated to the hospital?
Isaac Tigrett: Err, well I, I don't really want to say the exact amount, but I'll tell you, in India it goes a long way...a long, long way.
Tanya Datta: I've heard it was over $100 million.
Isaac Tigrett: No, nothing close to that. Enough to build a five hundred room hospital, and equip it and get it started.
[Tigrett's Donation: Word has long had it in the Sai movement that Tigrett donated over $100 million. However, David Bailey, a very close follower of Sai Baba (until he blew the whistle), who knew all the Sai VIPs, knew that Tigrett gave $49 million dollars, of which $15 million disappeared, unaccountably. Tigrett wrote an article, published in Sai magazines, of how he was put in charge of the hospital-equipping project by Sai Baba, but was frozen out by the Ashram and Central Trust, and had great problems doing many things due to the huge egos he encountered.]
During meditation, he was transported back to his childhood, and the spark of an idea which became the House Of Blues was founded.
Isaac Tigrett's experiences and opinions have been known to the Sai movement for decades, at least since they were first aired by R. Lowenberg in one of his several inaccurate and often fanciful hagiographies devoted to Sathya Sai Baba. Tigrett's experiences of 'miracles' he attributed to Sathya Sai Baba were reported there without any critical approach whatever. This is not to say that Tigrett did not experience (i.e. subjectively) what he has also reported.
"spontaneous manifestations," coincidences, resynchronization, thought transference, bi-location... you name it. In no case can the causal factors be traced or adequately explained by anyone. Add to this the fact that all these experiences are subjective... that is, one person has the experience while others nearby invariably do not. When they seem to be commonly experienced, it is surely often due to a high degree of suggestion, expectation, 'group effect' or even 'mass hypnosis' and many other predisposition factors. Devotees often describe seeing him take on different forms, while others present at the same time do not see any difference. This suggest that the phenomenon may well be akin to deep hypnosis, for who has not seen shows where people evidently are convinced of the most unlikely and amusing things... fully believing they see and touch and taste something totally different to what all others can observe them doing.
There are practically no experiences described in spiritual literature that are not also described in the literature of drugs and psychedelics. The experience of LSD 25 is known to open some takers to amazing experiences, both extremely hallucinatory and yet also extremely penetrating awareness of 'normal reality,' even with extreme mind-reading facility, complete freedom from mind-created illusions or stresses and other indescribable aspects of the cosmos in which we live. Such psycho-pharmacological agents do usually cause 'total' hallucinations - for example, seeing everything changed into shapes and forms entirely foreign to one's normal perceptions, and even one's own identity apparently changed. However, similar hallucinations occur in many other ways...a very high temperature can transform the perceived world beyond normal recognition. There are diverse practices that cause 'transcendental states' from extreme fasting, and extreme bleeding, as practiced in some cultures as part of religious festivals.
Tigrett has made no secret of the fact that he was a major drinker and drug-taker from the 60s onwards. He also told how he was strongly 'under the influence' of drink when he drove off a cliff and felt that Sai Baba held around him and saved his life. This vision of Sai Baba saving him is still obviously remarkable. However, one cannot leap to conclusions about the cause of this. Apart from being drunk, he may also have taken drugs, or may have been subject to the common phenomenon among drug-takers of 'flashback,' which occurs especially under extreme stress. Add to the fact that he had been concentrating on the Sai form and meditating, etc., etc., for years before that (all his Cafés already had a full-length photo of Sai Baba in the entrance), and many of the prerequisites for such an experience to be generated by the subconscious mind are present.
Tigrett's experiences as well as those of long-term Sai-addicts share the same view, that Sai Baba can rightfully abuse people sexually, preside over their murders, and whatever else he may decide, because he is God! Add to this the immoral and near imbecilic rider "because he does everything only for the good of those involved." These people all realize that Sai is a sexual abuser and is an accomplice to murder, and it does not affect their faith in him. So the long-term follower is like a confirmed and self-declared alcoholic... can't stop, can't change, has to break more and more rules so as to keep going. There is an inevitability to their lives due to having become so thoroughly deceived time and again - so completely absorbed in the Sai connection in all aspects of their lives, that there is no way out. One would be sorry for them... though they turn their backs on conscience and cover up, so helplessly deluded, they have gradually become. Without implying the degree of immorality as shown by Hitler, we are nevertheless reminded of his last days as an ultimate example of the pressure of one's past determining one's life fate... he had no other way out than the bunker... it is inconceivable that he could have surrendered or negotiated a truce, and there was no turning back. This is the mental life condition to which Tigrett virtually admits.