The Holy Grail Of Rock Memorabilia
John Lennon Paul McCartney George Harrison and Ringo Starr rehearse their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. February 1964. . (Photo by Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Ever Soaring in Value
Rock ‘n roll has no shortage of memorabilia which have ballooned in value over the years. From vinyl records and autographed photos to musical instruments and even luxury cars – these things can go from thousands to millions of dollars. Of course, if you have some spare cash lying around, getting your hands on these can mean you just held a piece of history.
There are hundreds of memorabilia scattered all over the globe, you may even be sitting on one right now, but not all of them have soared in value or are being sought-out by collectors. The rarer it is, the better. But that’s not to say there are no ridiculous and weird stuff being auctioned off such as John Lennon’s rotten tooth which fetched for $31,000 or a lock of Elvis Presley’s hair which sold for $115,000.
Here, we compiled 10 of the greatest/most expensive/most valuable items a rock ‘n roll fan can own. This is NOT in order of monetary value.
10. The Clash original album cover for “London Calling” by Ray Lowry
In 2009, the artwork was sold by Bonhams for $119,380. The image of Paul Simonon on stage smashing his guitar has become one of the most iconic and recognizable covers of all time. It was photographed by Pennie Smith during a show at The Palladium in New York. It was artist Ray Lowry who pushed for the photo to be used on the cover and he toyed around with several ideas before deciding to base the design on Elvis Presley’s eponymous 1956 debut album.
9. The Beatles 1964 “Ed Sullivan Show” Drum Head
The Beatles made history during their debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was undoubtedly one of the most important moments in the band’s entire career. Ringo Starr didn’t bring his entire drum kit from London but he brought a few pieces including this drum head. Edwin Stokes painted it specifically for their first trip to the American shores. Starr also used this for their first US concert at the Washington Coliseum. In 2015, it was auctioned off for a little over $2M.
8. John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for “A Day in the Life”
“A Day in the Life” was the final track to The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was a huge hit and is often dubbed as their greatest song ever. In 1992, John’s handwritten lyrics in a sheet of paper complete with revisions was sold for $100,000. In 2010, it was auctioned again and was fetched by an anonymous telephone bidder for $1.2M.
7. Eric Clapton’s black Fender Stratocaster “Blackie”
This was one of Eric’s most favorite guitars – using it during concerts and other performances for over 15 years. It was almost as popular as the guitar god himself. It sold for $959,500 at an auction and it wasn’t the only Eric Clapton guitar to fetch as such a staggering price. Other guitars include his 1964 Gibson ES0335 TDC ($847,500), 1939 CF Martin & Co ($791,500), and Gold Leaf Stratocaster ($455,550).
6. Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster which he used during his set at Woodstock
His performance at Woodstock propelled him to greater fame. His take on The Star Spangled Banner became the standard to which others were measured. And so it’s no surprise that the guitar he used would be as legendary as the man himself. After Jimi’s death, the guitar was passed on to Mitch Mitchell. While there’s no confirmation, rumor has it that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bought it for $2M back in the 90s.
5. Ringo Starr’s personal copy of The Beatles’ “White Album”
This is officially the most expensive vinyl record in rock ‘n roll history. Numbered No.0000001, it sold for $790,000 during an auction in 2015 although it was only estimated to fetch somewhere between $40,000 to $60,000.
4. The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band drum skin
Yes, The Fab Four have some of the most expensive and valuable memorabilia ever. There’s always a rich fan out there looking for collector’s items from The Beatles. And so in 2008, Christie’s auctioned off the drum skin used on the cover of the aforementioned legendary album in London for four times the estimated price. It sold for $1.07M.
3. Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Touring Limousine
Only 516 Phantom V cars were made and being The King of Rock ‘n Roll, of course he’s gonna go ride around in style. Bonhams auctioned it in 2014 and it sold for $396,000.
2. John Lennon’s 1965 Rolls Royce Phantom V Limousine
As expected, John Lennon’s car is a real standout and far from ordinary. It’s “a psychedelic pattern of flowers and swirls” which is what made it one of the most popular rockstar cars. It was customized to cater to John’s convenience. It was bought by Jim Pattison in 1985 for $2,299,000 and currently resides at the Royal B.C. Museum in Canada.
1. Janis Joplin’s Porsche 356C Cabriolet
It’s perhaps the most recognizable rock ‘n roll car. Her psychedelic ride, which she drove regularly, fetched for $1.76 M at an auction.