Time can change almost anything, mostly the value of those literature-related items you probably have relegated due to new technology. The advent of CDs and MP3s forced the extinction of vinyl, but the mark made by the era’s musicians cannot be fully felt on the new technology. Audiophiles are sticking with the vintage technology, having sworn by the sound quality of vinyl. Fans of the grandfathers of CDs around the world are gradually growing the hunt for a valuable wax to spin on their analog system. And collectors are getting more aggressive with bids on the rarest vinyl records in the world.
The argument is not totally on the sound quality but the listening experience, juxtaposed by intriguing stories behind the record copies. We have compiled a list of some of the rarest and most valuable vinyl records in the world, with each record portraying a distinct story that’s making them really valuable. You may have to look through your grandfather’s crates to see if it has one of the most valuable vinyl records worth thousands of dollars today.
David Bowie: Diamond Dogs – $3,500
The original copies of Diamond Dogs by David Bowie released in 1974 were withdrawn by the label – RCA because the cover artwork featured a human with dog’s genitals. But some employees were smart to keep a few of the originals. A copy was sold for $3500 on eBay back in 2003. These rare copies will worth a lot more today considering the unfortunate fact that Bowie is now deceased.
The Rolling Stones: Street Fighting Man/No Expectation – $17,000
The original picture of The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” depicts a photo of police brutality at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention during riots. The album, which has “No Expectations” on the b-side, was withdrawn shortly after the release by the record label after considering it was too controversial. Between 10 and 18 copies of the record are out there in the world, according to Bonhams’ estimates, with each copy sold for $17,000.
The Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen canceled single – $10,000 to $20,000
A total of 25,000 copies of God Save the Queen were pressed, but only about 9 copies survived the short-lived tenure of The Sex Pistols. Majority of the copies were destroyed by the label itself after their creation. However, Virgin later released the single which did well on the British charts but wasn’t played by BBC due to its controversial lyrics.
Jean-Michel Jarre: Music for Supermarkets – $14,000 to $33,500
Jarre’s Musique Pour Supermarche, which is translated in English as Music for Supermarkets, had only a single copy ever pressed. The song was originally designed as a work of art not necessarily something to be reproduced. It was part of the supermarket-themed art which was exhibited in 1983 in Paris. As at the exhibition, a single copy of the record was sold for $14,000. That’s around $33,500 in today’s market.
Frank Wilson: Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) – $33,000
This single was produced by American soul singer and producer Frank Wilson. Just about 250 demo copies of this record were released. However, only five of the released record survived after Motown Boss Berry Gordy destroyed the rest for reasons still not clear. One of the reasons suggests the Motown Boss wasn’t pleased with the fact that one of his best producers was releasing singles. Despite the mass destruction, some of the records still found its way into the market. An auction for the record was held in May 2009 where some copies were sold. The sale was organized by a Leicestershire-based record dealer and according to him, the buyer wishes to remain anonymous. He, however, confirmed that the selling price was placed at £25,742.
Tommy Johnson: Alcohol and Jake Blues – $37,100
This 78-rpm blues record by Tommy Johnson was released on the Paramount label in 1930. But an Oregon-based record collector shelled out a super-rare copy of the record in 2013. As at then, the record had fetched over $37,000 (approx. £29,000). An amazing fact, however, is that major buyer John Tefteller was confirmed to already own a copy of the record he bought. When asked, he explained that the condition of the later copy bought at the auction was better than the previous. He also stressed that the record was indeed worth every penny spent on it.
Aphex Twin: Caustic Window test pressing – $46,000
Caustic Window is one of the five extremely rare test recording of Richard D. James (Aphex Twin). The original purchase of the record on Discogs was in 2014. Since then, it became digitally distributed in a Kick-starter campaign. The original release of this record was scuttled upon re-release of the record. Fans opined that Richard James saw the future of dance music through the song which was sold to Markus Persson (Minecraft creator and ridiculous high roller).
Long Cleve Reed & Little Harvey Hill: Original Stack O’Lee Blues – $50,000
Albums in the categories of 78-rpm are usually sought-after by collectors. Basically, because of their rarity and the fact it’s the very first set of recordings done with electrical recording technology. It has a beautiful harmony of vocals from Long Cleve Reed and Little Harvey Hill. Joe Bussard, a famed record collector, reportedly once offered $70,000 for this 78-rpm single.
The Beatles: Til There Was You (10” acetate) ~ $99,600
The song ‘Til There Was You’ featured in the 10” acetate of an early demo by the Fab referred to as the ‘Holy Grail’. The album has a b-side song ‘Hello Little Girl’ (misspelled as “Hullo Little Girl” on the disc). The recording was found languishing in the attic of fellow Liverpudlian, les Maguire, who acquired the record during his time as keyboardist for Gerry and The Peacemakers. An unnamed collector bought the record in March 2016 at Warrington. ‘Til There Was You’ is considered the Beatles’ launch song because it was done as a demo for EMI.
The Beatles: Yesterday & Today – $125,000
Also in the Beatles compilation from 1966 is Yesterday & Today. It was initial release only in North America but later released in Japan. However, the record wasn’t released in either UK or Europe which made it relatively scares. Another reason for its scarcity is that the early version featured the infamous “butcher” cover with Paul, John, Ringo, and George on it. The version was withdrawn immediately and replaced with more tamed artwork. Despite that, the original version was still sought-after by collectors. On February 2013, a mint edition sealed copy was sold at an auction for $125,000 and it became the most expensive copy of the record ever sold.
John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy – $150,000
The copies of an LP usually differ from each other hugely in terms of value by virtue of some defining features. In the same manner, Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono was sold for an unbelievable price of $150,000 in 1999. The astonishing price was because the copy is the last record ever signed by Lennon himself. John Lennon signed on the copy a few hours before his death on December 8th, 1980. That makes it one of the most expensive records ever sold.
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Signed by all Four Beatles) – $290,000
An original pressing of Sgt. Pepper released in 1967, precisely the mono version with the black Parlophone label, is worth a decent auction price. However, the presence of just a single signature on the record can escalate the price. Well, on this copy wasn’t just one signature but four signatures of all the Beatles. This copy was sold in 2013 at an auction and an American buyer ended up buying the copy originally estimated at $30,000 for $290,000. That exceeds the record set by a copy of their 1967 album.
Elvin Presley: My Happiness – $300,000
Jack White is not just one of the busiest men in modern music. He is also a huge collector of Vintage gear and Vinyl. In December 2015, during an auction, Mr. Jack bought the test pressing of Elvis Presley’s media ever recording. He made a limited edition facsimile from it and later released it via Third Man Records. After its release, the record became one of the three most expensive records in the world having been sold for $300,000.
The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album) – $790,000
The very first copy of the Beatles’ band self-titled double album done in 1968 was owned by Ringo Starr (Beatles drummer) for years. He, however, sold his copy in December 2015 in the U.S during Julien’s auction to an unnamed buyer. Ringo also sold his Ludwig drum kit to Indianapolis Colts owner for $2.2 million.