In the second part of our extensive trawl through some of the most valuable discs in the record-collecting world, we turn our attention to releases from the likes of Elvis Presley and The Velvet Underground (Read part 1 here)..
15: Long ‘Cleve’ Reed & Harvey Hull Down Home Boys – Original Stack O’ Lee Blues/ Mama You Don’t Know How
Black Patti 8030, 78RPM, 1927
Estimate £15,000 to £20,000
This blues 78 was issued way back in 1927 on the hallowed Black Patti label and is widely considered to be the rarest of all country blues records.
Chicago’s black-owned label Black Patti was founded by former pro-American footballer and Paramount scout, Mayo Williams, who named it after trailblazing African-American opera singer Sissieretta Jones. With only 55 releases in its seven-month existence, it’s one of the era’s most sought-after labels.
Think Charlie Patton, Lemon Jefferson or Leadbelly, add otherworldliness, and you’ll be in the rough vicinity of the haunting blues on offer here. This singular 78 currently resides with Joe Bussard – self-proclaimed ‘king of record collectors’ – who tracked down 15 Black Patti 78s in one haul at a trailer park in Virginia.
He paid only $10, but has since turned down an offer of $30,000 for this disc alone. If you spy that revered ‘peacock’s tail’ logo, pay close attention…
14: Billy Ward and His Dominoes – Billy Ward and His Dominoes
US, Federal, 295-94,1955
SOLD $24,200 (approx. £18,700)
This 10” LP was a rarity back in its own time, down to the fact that doo-wop groups very rarely recorded full albums – the majority of record sales were, after all, 45s.
Aside from inducing salivation from vinyl collectors, The Dominoes deserve their place in the annals of rock’n’roll as the group that introduced two superstars in Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson. Named ‘The Dominoes’ as they had originally featured black and white singers, Ward’s eventual all-black line-up rapidly flew up the ranks via shows at New York’s Apollo Theater.
This LP features most of the group’s early hits including Sixty Minute Man. While generally given a lower value, one pristine copy sold at Good Rockin’ Tonight’s 1999 ‘Ultra Rarities’ auction for $24,200.
13: The Five Sharps – Stormy Weather/Sleep Cowboy
Jubilee 5104, 78RPM, 1952
This is one of the most fabled doo-wop waxings in history, but not because the group were big-hitters… In fact, the exact opposite is true. This crude version of the classic song was recorded at a snail’s pace and with corny thunder sound effects in the background. The effect is a strangely eerie, but by no means top-drawer listening experience.
The NY foursome was only together long enough to lay down this one rarity and apparently, they were paid for the session in fizzy drinks and hot dogs. Sales were so woeful, the group even had to buy their own copies.
It’s unsurprising so few have appeared, but in 1961, a 78 copy did surface and was loaned to record-store owner Irv Rose for valuation. Irv promptly broke the disc, blaming his pet racoon. Three more copies were found – only one of which was playable, and was sold to the owners of Good Rockin’ Tonight auction house in 1977. The pair have since turned down $25,000
12: The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico
Scepter Studios 12” acetate, 1966
SOLD $25,200 (approx. £19,500)
The super-rare original acetate of this iconic LP was cut at Scepter Studios in April of 1966. Aside from its rarity, added value for Velvets fans lies in the tracks held herein. While many of the songs on the recording made the final album cut, there are different mixes and even different versions to be heard here.
This lost gem came to light in 2002, when it was bought by Canadian record enthusiast Warren Hill at a flea market in New York City for only 75 cents. Hill put the album up on eBay and in December 2006, a winning bid for $155,401 was placed, but turned out to be bogus.
A second eBay auction a few days later led to a final sale price of $25,200, but its value is sure to grow. For those fans with a normal wage, thankfully, the tracks are available on the 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of the album. The acetate was also released on limited-edition vinyl for Record Store Day 2013.
11: Elvis Presley – Stay Away, Joe
(RCA Victor UNRM-9408, 1967)
We’d wager that this ultimate valuable rarity would rival the infamous Quarrymen acetate in terms of value, but we may never know as it’s never come to market.
Found in October 1999 amongst the possessions of Elvis’ manager, the late Colonel Tom Parker, this single-sided promo LP is a one-of-a-kind item made for a one-off broadcast on Arizonan radio station KVIO.
Elvis and the Colonel chose to record the songs as a thank you to the people of Sedona for their treatment of the cast and crew of the 1967 Western-comedy film Stay Away, Joe.
The transmission features nine of Elvis’ much-loved gospel tracks with intermittent announcements from KVIO deejay Joe Adams. Presleyana VI – the Elvis Presley record, CD, and memorabilia price guide, values this rarity at $25,000 but with no sales on which to base the estimation, it could easily fetch a great deal more.
10: Tommy Johnson – Alcohol And Jake Blues/Ridin’ Horse
US, Paramount 12950, 78RPM, 1929
SOLD $37,500 (approx. £25,000)
Crackling Delta blues up next from Mississippi’s Tommy Johnson. There are supposedly only two copies, both of which are owned by the same blues nut. John Tefteller dished out $37,500 at the close of an eBay auction to land the other known copy of this historical artefact – the highest price ever paid for a 78RPM record.
The anonymous seller from Columbia, South Carolina found the rare 78 in an estate sale and was entirely unaware of what was in his possession until he eventually chose to part with it. “He absolutely did not realise what he had and how rare it was until he put it on eBay,” said Tefteller.
“Within the first few hours of it being listed on the auction site, another collector tried to stop the sale by offering the seller $4,000 for the record. Fortunately, he let the auction proceed and I was able to win it in the final moments.”
More coming soon!