Welcome to our penultimate edition of The Most Valuable Vinyl In The World. If you’ve found some of the figures hard to stomach in our previous lists then spin something relaxing and take a seat before reading. As ever, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 are just a click away in case you missed them.
4. The Beatles – Yesterday and Today
Capitol 2553, US LP in ‘butcher’ sleeve, 1966
SOLD $125,000 (approx. £96,700)
Yet another Beatles rarity, this LP often stirs up plenty of confusion when it comes to valuations. With four different versions of the sleeve, several different ‘original’ releases and versions that were both stereo, mono, both, as well as partial and ‘fake’ stereo, it’s easy to see why. And what of the sleeves?
The original, so-called ‘first state’, sleeves printed with the ‘Butchers’ image are worth the most, although few exist in good nick – a pristine ‘first state’ copy sold for nearly $7,000 in 2014. The ‘Butcher’ image showed the band in white coats surrounded by decapitated dolls and various meats and caused enough of a stir for Capitol execs to recall the record. Which brings us to the ‘second state’, for which the original sleeve was stickered over with a different image of the band sitting around an inoffensive trunk. It’s easy to imagine the temptation to unpeel said sticker to reveal the original image and hence the ‘third state’ – LPs with the sticker cleanly removed.
Find a ‘first state’ copy and it’s worth a fair whack, particularly if it’s a sealed mint-condition stereo copy – Heritage Auctions sold one this year for $125,000. Unsealed, they still fetch up to $15,000 plus.
3. The Quarrymen – That’ll Be the Day/In Spite of All the Danger
78RPM, shellac acetate, handwritten labels, plain sleeve, 1958)
The one singular copy of this much-lauded acetate is owned by Sir Paul McCartney himself, so anyone wishing to add it to their collection may have some difficulty – Macca has never shown one iota of interest in parting with it. He did, however, have some 50 copies manufactured in 1981, half as 10” 78s and the other half as 7” 45s, all in reproduction Parlophone sleeves and all of which he reportedly gave to family and friends. Even the repros fetch top dollar, at around £10-15,000.
The A-side is of course a cover of Buddy Holly’s classic 1957 tune, but the Elvis-inspired flip is perhaps of more interest, as it’s the first track recorded by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison – at Phillips’ Sound Recording Service in Liverpool, a studio in the living room of a Victorian terraced house. Macca claims to have written the track despite sharing a credit with George. “We were mates and nobody was into copyrights and publishing, nobody understood,” laughed Macca. “We actually used to think when we came down to London that songs belonged to everyone… We really thought they just were in the air, and that you couldn’t actually own one. So you can imagine the publishers saw us coming!”
The session features drummer Colin Hanton and McCartney’s schoolfriend John ‘Duff’ Lowe on piano. “When we got the record, the agreement was that we would have it for a week each. John had it a week and passed it on to me. I had it for a week and passed it on to George, who had it for a week. Then Colin had it for a week and passed it to Duff Lowe – who kept it for 23 years… I ended up buying it back for a very inflated price,” remembered Paul. Back in the day, The Quarrymen paid the princely sum of 17 shillings and three pence to make a disc…
2. Elvis Presley – My Happiness/That’s When Your Heartaches Begin
78RPM, acetate, no sleeve, 1953
SOLD $300,000 (approx. £230,000)
And now, onto what is surely the most historically important of all the items in this list. Cut by an 18-year-old Elvis at Sam Phillips’ hallowed Memphis Recording Service on 18 July, 1953 for a mere $4, this first recording – a singular 10” 78RPM acetate – was supposedly meant as a gift for his mother Gladys, but was instead left with his friend Ed Leek. Leek had accompanied a nervous Elvis to Sun Studios that day and the pair had gone on to his parent’s house (who owned a record player) to listen to the finished product, where the acetate remained.
60 years later, Leek’s daughter chose to put this sacrosanct rock’n’roll artefact under the hammer, in an auction taking place on 8 January at Graceland (which would have been The King’s 80th birthday). The ‘undisclosed’ buyer that dished out a whopping $300,000 for his hero’s tentative first musical steps turned out to be White Stripes’ blues shrieker Jack White, who then generously chose to reproduce it for fans to buy on Record Store Day 2015.
Thankfully, for vinyl lovers, White followed the details to the letter: “From reproducing the typewritten labels (the original was printed on the back of a Prisonaires labels left lying around at Sun Records that day) to being packaged in a plain, nondescript, of-the-era sleeve,” read a statement on White’s Third Man Records’ website, “the utmost attention to detail has been paid in order to create an object so close to the historic original as to almost be indistinguishable from one other.”
The Country Music Hall Of Fame’s vinyl guru Alan Stoker was set to work reproducing the acetate for a beaming White (see the video on YouTube) and the results were magnificent. “Certainly, I’m aware of how important this is,” Stoker told Rolling Stone Country. “[It’s] kind of like the ‘Big Bang of rock ’n’ roll’. Not this disc necessarily, but that performance, because that’s where they first heard him. It’s a document of that performance. The guy is handing me a disc he paid $300,000 for, so that makes you kind of hold your
breath a little.”
Only more record to go. Do you know what it is? Join us again when we reveal the most valuable vinyl in the world in our final instalment.