LinDee Rochelle took the challenge and so wowed her editor that the magazine team accepted the article over deadline and over word count. The article below fanned her interest into a book series of a lifestyle that parlayed into a legacy for pioneering Rock & Roll Radio Disc Jockeys. (Link to Book 1)
Blast from Your Past was born …
Let’s Rock-N-Roll Down Memory Lane!
You can’t think about rock-n-roll without a smile. Go on, try. See?! So where were you in 1954? ’64? ’74?
Did you swivel your hips when Ed Sullivan prohibited Elvis’ sexy sway on the little screen? Or let your mind expand in a Jefferson Airplane concert? Maybe you rocked arm-in-arm with your friends to the gravelly protests of the enigmatic Dylan. And we all welcomed the British Invasion led by The Beatles.The early years of rock-n-roll were all that and so much more. No one expected the music that revolutionized and defined an era to endure and keep rockin’ on, 50 years later. Yet here we are … groovin’ to the beat, forcing oldies stations to stay on the air … and when no one is looking, belting out Billy Joel’s “It’s still rock-n-roll to me!”
What happened to the mind-blowing concert posters, ticket stubs, and backstage passes from our rebellious youth? Most of us lived through it, we unfortunately didn’t collect it.
Rock-n-roll memorabilia and collectibles are hotter than Hendrix’s flaming guitar in the ’67 Monterey Pop Festival. Fueling the fire of rock-n-roll collectibles are bands from our psychedelic days, who are still (or again) touring, and find their audiences filled with several new generation of fans.
I know the “moldy-oldies” radio stations have been fading from the airwaves faster than a doobie disappeared at a Summer of Love concert. How can I possibly think kids are listening to old time rock-n-roll? I learned firsthand while indelicately balancing the deadline for this article and vacationing with family from Washington State.
The Morrison Hotel Gallery in La Jolla was the next stop on my trip down Memory Lane, but I’d promised to spend time with my 14-year-old great-niece, Katie. Faced with a one-or-other decision and hoping to combine business with pleasure I off-handedly asked about her musical preferences. Without hesitation she rattled off The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. Huh?! Guard your grandparents’ old collectibles I advised her, and start amassing your own, now—they’re only going to increase in value. Competition for the good stuff is hotter than ever.
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty four?”
So what is the good stuff you ask? Eric Clapton’s faithful ol’ guitar, “Blackie,” commanded the highest price ever paid for a guitar in auction. You’d have thought for $959,500 it had Clapton’s right arm still attached to it. Christie’s recently recorded some of the most astounding auction prices ever, for our memories. Did you once see Jimi Hendrix wearing red, olive, blue and green-striped worsted woven trousers? Someone in the US seriously wants to preserve that memory and paid $39,580 for the privilege.
Led Zeppelin fans … would you want that John Paul Jones amplifier circa 1969, so much that you
But top honors for high-priced sales go to two of Christie’s most nostalgic and expensive offerings: John Lennon’s rare, hand-penned lyrics for “Give Peace A Chance” from 1969, sold for a record $833,654; topped only by The Beatles’ hand painted bass drum skin that graced the cover of the legendary 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album—$1,071,134.
So, what is collectible and affordable? Regardless of age, when a popular rock musician dies, the collectibles market shakes faster than we did twisting to Chubby Checker in the ‘60s. Smart people scoop up the more uncommon memorabilia and the rest of us simply hug our memories a little tighter. Though aging rockers like the venerable Sir James Paul McCartney may be past the “When I’m 64” mark, their memorabilia always has been and shall remain collectible. But what else is out there?
“Love me tender, love me sweet, all my dreams fulfilled.”
It’s no secret that music defines every generation. Songwriters chronicle the mood, political climate, and fads of the day. And what did we do in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s when we heard a song we liked on the radio? We bought the vinyl record. Did your prized edition of Elvis’ 1957 Loving You survive life’s storms? How about the Rolling Stones’ December’s Children from 1965, or 1973’s moody Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd?
Vinyl records are a great way to collect and display your rock-n-roll memories—or more to the point, their sleeves and covers. Although the vinyl is important, it’s the rarity of the record and the desirability of the cover art that drives up the price.
There are the where-are-they-hiding rarities like the Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man single (1966) valued at $18,000, Elvis’ Good Luck Charm (1962) missing in action at $25,000, and The Beatles’ infamous Yesterday & Today “Butchers” cover commanding $10,000, if you can find one. But there are also many good, solid collectible vinyl going for $200 or less. Keep in mind that high-paying collectors look for mint condition and prefer sealed editions.
I don’t know about you, but my vinyl didn’t stop spinning until the 1980s—and they look it. How do I know what’s going for how much? “Mighty” John Marshall, “the record guy,” can tell you whether your vintage records are going to fund your around-the-world retirement trip, or just spin you around the dance floor again.
Mighty John parlayed his career as a radio personality and record collector into a thriving appraisal and collecting business. At MoneyMusic.com you can learn the value of your record and how to sell it, starting at only $2.00 per record. According to Mighty John’s July 14 newsletter, “The most collectible years are the 1950s and 1960s. It’s also important to realize that a mono copy of a record may be worth more than the stereo version.”
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T … Find out what it means to me.”
A sampling of Mighty John’s appraisals on a few notable records: Twist with Chubby Checker (1960) is an easy start in collecting at only $30; you could be $100 richer if you sell your copy of the Rolling Stones’ December’s Children, and top off your surf collection with the Beach Boys’ Heroes and Villains for $500.
Jeff Figler, another prolific keeper of Boomer vinyl memories in San Diego, briefly retells a story of one of the most valuable records in rock-n-roll history, about a 1962 UK pop idol who needed a backup band for his US debut “… just for that one 45 (r.p.m.) on Decca Records. It was called ‘My Bonnie,’ by Tony Sheridan and ‘The Beat Brothers.’ The record didn’t go over well at all. But if you happen to have one of those five or six copies still in existence … or you see one in an auction, barring a bidding war, you’re probably looking at $20,000.” Why? Little more than a year later the forgettable Beat Brothers became unforgettable as The Beatles.
If your favorite vinyl didn’t make the trip to present day, no worries. Start again with a dozen fond memories in traditional black vinyl for a mere pittance at Lou’s Records in Encinitas, California Well-used vinyl waits for new owners, priced at 99 cents and up. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a ‘60s Jefferson Airplane, but you may have to settle for Jefferson Starship’s Nuclear Furniture (1984, $3.99). “We sell a lot of record players,” says Lou. Vinyl is making a big comeback.
Radio-inspired collectibles include promotional items from the stations themselves. Popular Phoenix DJ, Bill Gardner, offers another collecting idea. “One thing I have that’s kind of interesting—the radio station I grew up listening to in Philadelphia was called WIPG, and I have their issue #1, Top 99 Survey from 1958! Somebody recently told me I may have the last surviving copy.
Most of us have at least a few 45s and 33 1/3 records tucked away in a corner of the garage. Maybe it’s time to haul them out and give them the “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” they deserve. But what other stops we can make on Memory Lane?
“I can’t get no sat-is-fac-tion …”
“I can’t get no sat-is-fac-tion …”
Throughout the gallery tour, we heard the amazing histories behind the scenes from sales director Chantel Paul. Featured photographers captured a young and vulnerable Janis Joplin, a sporty Bruce Springsteen, and elated success of Led Zeppelin. “With each photographer we brought in (as the galleries developed) we learned more and more stories behind the photographs,” explained gallery co-owner, Rich Horowitz.
Hanging on to a collection of more than 18,000 vinyl records from his former life as original owner of San Diego’s Off The Record stores, Horowitz presents intimate prints, many in expressive black-and-white, from the photographers of our era that allows us in to the musicians’ private lives. Bob Gruen captured the ethereal essence of John Lennon and the triumph of Led Zeppelin. Henry Diltz, a co-owner of the gallery, contributed the gallery’s logo, his celebrated cover image for The Doors’ legendary Morrison Hotel album. Diltz continues to provide glimpses of astonishing moments in the lives of The Rolling Stones, the Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and other pioneering rockers, through the gallery.
“Purple Haze all in my brain, lately things just don’t seem the same.”
So far, we’ve collected guitars, lyrics, clothing, amplifiers, records, radio surveys, and fine art photos … but nothing is more vivid and retrospect for escaping into rock-n-roll’s twisted and elaborate past than those wild-n-crazy posters from our Psychedelic Sixties and Seventies. Now they’re highly prized works of art! If you didn’t save your Hendrix or Beatles posters, let me turn you on to a couple places to buy back your swirling memories of youth.
ParkersPosters.com offers a modest inventory of rock-n-roll posters, but the San Diego-based company is recommended for authenticity and fair prices. Owners George and Arlene Parker recently acquired a 1981 offset lithograph of John Lennon by Alan Aldridge ($500). Number 302 of 1,000, it’s pure existential art from the cover of the October 24, 1969 Daily Telegraph magazine. At the other end of the poster collecting spectrum is a ‘67 litho of The Byrds that will have you focusing on its intricate eddies of color like it was yesterday, for only $75.
Online is a great place to shop, but the Internet can be daunting when searching for rock-n-roll memorabilia. Need a nudge? You can trip through the formative years of your exuberant youth for hours, in WolfgangsVault.com. The entire Bill Graham Archives, King Biscuit Flower Hour inventory and the Record Plant collectibles, will keep us in authentic rock-n-roll memorabilia ‘til the last Baby Boomer meets Elvis in rock-n-roll heaven. Celebrity apparel, backstage props, vintage concert tickets, more poster art, and photography are just a smattering of their offerings, in single to four digit prices.
If you don’t want to trip over your hippie days in the living room and prefer to vicariously drift dreamily back in time, we have a couple of ideas for you! There’s no need to book a room at the Hard Rock Hotel to enjoy their growing collection of rock-n-roll memorabilia—but you might want to so you have plenty of time to reminisce and chat with memorabilia procurer and “Vibe Manager,” John Resnick. He escorted me through the years as we talked about the pieces he purchased for the San Diego location.
“This is my favorite display. They’re so personal,” said Resnick, pointing to a collection of handwritten letters to fans by various artists. A special source of pride is the gold vinyl record that commemorates the Rolling Stones’ 1,000,000 copies of Beggars Banquet, displayed with a poignant photo of Brian Jones. The 1968 release was the ill-fated guitarist’s last full recording with the band. The Hard Rock Hotel is fast becoming a destination for rock-n-roll fans of all ages, with more than 70,000 objects of Rock history in their international collections.
“I’m just talkin’ ‘bout my g-g-generation.”
In many conversations over the past few weeks, the general consensus, regardless of age and music preference, is that rock-n-roll is still the foundation of new music and those of us “there when it exploded” are indeed, fortunate.
It doesn’t matter what you collect or how much you spend. And do you know that just three of anything constitutes a “collection”? Add personal vignettes of your favorite moments in your rock-n-roll reverent or irreverent past … and pass it on to your kids. Be proud you were part of a “good vibrations” revolution that will be told, sold, retold and resold for another millennium.
So what should we advise our young Katie to collect? As with all vintage purchases—whatever she likes and enjoys. But even if I could swing the price of those groovy Hendrix trousers, this great-aunt would rather see her indulge her artistic flair with Sixties’ psychedelic posters and pair them with stunning black and white photo prints.
“Life goes on long after the thrill of
livin’ is gone …”
That’s the whole point—if you “rock on,” the thrill of livin’ will always linger, on “Blueberry Hill.”
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