Rock and Roll memorabilia is amongst the most fascinating and valuable of collectibles. While symbolic of popular culture, it’s idols and icons, the place of rock & roll memorabilia in rock music history is unprecedented. Authentic collectibles, band merchandise, cars, guitars, even infamous costumes can fetch a pretty penny for those willing to fit the bill. Whether it be private collectors, super-fans or museums, where rock and roll memorabilia lie, a home is close to follow. Kicking off with an original album cover from the punk rock band The Clash, we’ve located, and are counting down ten of the most expensive rock and roll memorabilia ever sold!
10. The Clash ‘London Calling’ Original Artwork: $119,380
An English punk rock band, The Clash came together in the late seventies, creating music that incorporated a variety of different sounds and style, from reggae, to lounge jazz to pop and hard rock. The band’s third studio album was entitled London Calling, and was released in December of 1979 in the UK, and 1980 in the United States. While the album was received with overwhelmingly positive critiques, it featured the band’s diverse range, and focused on social themes including employment, race, drugs, and maturity. In 2003 the album received the 8th position in the Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of all Time”. London Calling has sold over five million copies worldwide, and in 2009 the original album was sold for a reported $119,380 at Bonhams.
9. Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce: $182,385
Rolls-Royce made the super exclusive Phantom V between 1959-1968. While the luxury four-door vehicle was used by the Governor of Hong Kong for ceremonial occasions, it was also possessed by Queen Elizabeth II, and her mother, as well as a legendary American musician who went by the name ‘the King.’ The elite 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V touring limousine owned by Elvis Presley was sold at an auction in 1986 for $182,385. Only 516 Phantom V’s were ever made.
8. Costumes Worn By KISS: $200,132
Renowned for their painted faces, elaborate outfits and even more outrageous remarks, the American rock band KISS, is iconic in the world of rock & roll. Along with their famous lyrics and notoriously outspoken lead singer, Gene Simmons, the band was also recognized for their fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics. KISS has received more gold awards (28) than other American rock band, and 100 million records throughout the world. The remaining (original) group members included Paul Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar and vocals) and Peter Criss (drums and vocals). In June of 2002 perhaps the most legendary attributes of KISS, their costumes, were sold for over $200,000 at Bonhams.
7. Jimi Hendrix’s Guitar: $328,291
Although his time in the limelight of the music industry was quite short, (only about four years), the American musician, Jimi Hendrix is considered a legendary musician, and guitar player, and furthermore, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” Since his untimely death in 1970, (Hendrix was just 27 years old), any item owned by the musician has been hunted by auctions and collectors. About twenty years ago, a guitar owned by Hendrix, a Fender Stratocaster, was sold for almost $330,000. If the guitar had been sold in present day, it would have broken the record price for auctioned guitar. Amongst his numerous awards, Hendrix was awarded the title ‘Artist of Year’ in 1968 by Billboard while Rolling Stone asserted him with the title Performer of the Year.
6. John Lennon Lyrics (Give peace a Chance): $698,447
Although written several decades ago, the words “Give Peace a Chance” still resonate with people worldwide, reminiscent of the song written and sung by John Lennon (also performed with Yoko Ono). Lennon released the song while still a part of The Beatles, and the song cultivated into an American “anti-war anthem.” In July of 2008, the lyrics of the infamous song written in Suite 1742 of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada, were sold for almost $700,000.
5. Eric Clapton’s 1939 Guitar: $698,447
Eric Clapton, (whose name is now followed by ‘CBE’ referring to Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is a famous British musician and former band member of the Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times, and is also considered one of the most distinguished guitar players of all time. Rolling Stone Magazine listed Clapton as second, in the “100 greatest guitarists of all time.” The 1939 guitar that was sold for almost $700,000 was the main instrument for Eric Clapton’s MTV ‘Unplugged’ performance in 1992.
4. Eric Clapton’s “Blackie” Guitar: $874,092
Eric Clapton’s “Blackie” guitar was his main solo stage and studio guitar from 1970 to 1985. The black Fender Stratocaster guitar referred to as “blackie” and revered by his fans. In June of 2004 the guitar was placed for auction by Christie’s and received five times the amount originally expected. The guitar was apart of a “lot sale” of guitars that were auctioned off to raise money for a charity chose by Clapton; a treatment centre in Antigua, called the Crossroads Center. The lot sale raised a total of almost $8 million for Clapton’s charity.
3. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper Drumskin: $897,390
Formed in England in 1960, The Beatles became an iconic and legendary pop-rock group. Consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, the band even had a term coined after them referring to their popularity within the particular era, “Beatlemania.” The band went on to record several albums, their music ranging from pop, to hard rock, with their eighth album entitled, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album was released in June of 1967, and spent 15 weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. The album won four Grammy’s in 1968, including Album of the Year. The album’s front cover featured a hand-painted drum-skin and in 1977 Rolling Stone magazine voted the album as “the most influential of all time.” The album’s value has continued to increase over time, and was sold for almost $900,000 in July 2008 at Christie’s.
2. John Lennon’s Handwritten Lyrics (A day in the life): $1,344,477
The final song on the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album was entitled “A Day in the Life” and written separately by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It’s reported that Lennon wrote his lyrics based on current day news, while McCartney wrote lyrics that struck a chord with his youth. While the different segments were eventually linked together, the song was actually banned from being broadcast by the BBC because of the line “I’d love to turn to you” an assumed reference to drugs. The song was later covered by several different artists including Sting, Neil Young and the Bee Gees to name a few. The song was ranked the greatest Beatles song ever by Rolling Stone. In June of 2010, the song’s handwritten lyrics were auctioned off for over $1.3 million and bought by a private American collector.
1. John Lennon’s 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V: $2,898,725
The 1967 film, Magical Mystery Tour was a film based on The Beatles and their music. While the film was quite scrutinized by the media, it included six new Beatles songs. During the filming, John Lennon’s black Rolls-Royce touring limousine was painted into “a psychedelic pattern of flowers and swirls” and was eventually bought for almost $3 million by the Royal British Columbia Museum in Canada. The car is still on display by the museum today.