10 Most Wanted Bits of Music Memorabilia

Mark Corrin Mark Corrin

The increasing value of music memorabilia from rock’s golden ages has given new meaning to the term ‘counter’ culture, but the allure of playing the very same instruments as your heroes remains irresistible.

10 Most Wanted Bits of Music Memorabilia

Here are ten items from rock history that any musician would trade their best kidney/first born/soul for…

Kraftwerk’s Vocoder

As the price of even the lowliest 60s instruments out-paces the wallets of all but the world’s one percent, vintage synths still offer somewhat attainable value.In 2006, synth pioneers Kraftwerk’s custom-built vocoder sold on eBay for a not insignificant $12,500. However, with this being the unit that was used to create the vocal effects on breakthrough epic Autobahn, we’d say it was a savvy investment.

Value: $12,500 (in 2006)

Eric Clapton’s 1956 Fender Stratocaster ‘Brownie’

The backup for ‘Blackie’ (more on that later), Brownie is the guitar you’d ideally want in your hands when pounding out the killer intro lick to Layla. Eric Clapton bought the guitar in 1967 when touring with Cream and, after 32 years of faithful service, eventually sold it in order to raise funds for the Crossroads Centre – a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic.

Value: $497,500 (in 1999)

Jerry Garcia’s “Tiger” Guitar

Even when The Grateful Dead man was warping his mental mainframe during the early acid tests, the idea that one of his six-strings might one day sell for nearly a million dollars would surely have been dismissed as the stuff of fantasy.Nonetheless, Jerry Garcia’s custom triple-humbucker “Tiger” guitar, produced by California luthier Doug Irwin, sold for $957,000 in 2002.

Value: $957,000 (in 2002)

John Bonham Ludwig Amber Vistalite Kit

Led Zeppelin’s god of thunder favoured this Amber Vistalite kit built by Ludwig between 1973 and 1975 – and it became his most easily identified kit after featuring in The Song Remains The Same. The drum firm briefly made a replica set earlier this century, but the original changed hands at auction for an appropriately hefty $161,000.

Value: $161,060

Ringo Starr’s Ed Sullivan Show Drum Head

The Beatles drum head that featured on Ringo Starr’s kick drum on the band’s Ed Sullivan Show debut. It was hand-painted by Eddie Stokes in London in 1964 and became the logo that announced The Beatle’s pan-Atlantic arrival in front of a legion of screaming teens.It was picked up Beatles collector Russell Lease in 1994 for an undisclosed figure and remains one of the band’s most iconic pieces of memorabilia.

Value: Unknown

Eric Clapton’s Blackie Strat

Until ‘Blackie’ hit the auction scene in 2004, the aforementioned ‘Brownie’ was the most expensive guitar in the world at a cool half mill.That all changed when it’s Frankenstrat brother (assembled from the best parts of six 1950s Strats) shifted for almost double that figure. It featured on Cocaine, I Shot The Sheriff, Wonderful Tonight and just about everything Slowhand did between 1974 and 1985.

Value: $959,500 (in 2004)

1968 Jimi Hendrix Woodstock Strat

Jimi Hendrix is arguably the greatest electric guitarist of all time – a player who defined the sound not just of his own generation, but of several to follow.This was the actual guitar Jimi played at his crowning moment: his hair-raising performance of Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. In 2012, the guitar was bought for $2 million by multi billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen and donated to Seattle’s Experience Music Project.

Value: $2,000,000 (in 2012)

John Lennon’s Steinway

Not to be confused with the white Steinway grand piano featured in the Imagine video and pictures, which belonged to Yoko Ono and was a birthday gift from Lennon in 1971.The Beatles songwriter actually composed Imagine on a plainer-looking Steinway upright, which was bought at auction by George Michael (yes, that one) in October 2000. This is the one with the magic in it.

Value: $2,100,000 (in 2000)

Peter Green’s 1959 Gibson Les Paul

The Fleetwood Mac/Bluesbreaker’s mercurial guitar genius is closely associated with this 1959 Gibson Les Paul.Debate persists as to why the instrument produced such stunning tones – most think it’s down to the reversed neck pickup, but perhaps that undersells Green’s own ‘in–the–fingers’ tonal touch. Green eventually sold it to Gary Moore for a few hundred dollars, before the bluesman was forced to part with it in 2002 – for a tidy sum of $2 million.

Value: $2,000,000 (in 2002)

Bob Dylan’s Handwritten Like a Rolling Stone Lyrics

“Once upon a time you dressed so fine, threw the bums a dime in your prime – didn’t you?” Dylan’s influence on the landscape of rock and pop music is beyond measure.Never one for introspective retrospection, it’s probably not surprising that the songwriter’s handwritten working draft of Like A Rolling Stone (complete with doodles) fetched a whopping $2,075,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2014.

Value: $2,075,000 (in 2014)