I started thinking about who might be the most important frontmen in rock today. Who are considered by rock critics and fans alike the most desired, respected, valued and therefore collected in the area of rock and roll memorabilia.
And are the frontmen of these super groups even worth collecting on their own?
So I went online and began my research.
There was no shortage of polls and online sites dedicated to naming and discussing the the best frontmen of all time, best lead singers of all time, best in rock, heavy metal, classic, pop, yada, yada, yada, you name it. Rolling Stone has done several over the years. Most of the polls pretty much sucked. Naming bands and singers that are no more than a few years in the business of music.
I wanted to focus on frontmen who collectors value and have a track record in items of theirs or items related to them having sold in auctions in the past. Part of my criteria was also that you had to have “paid your dues.” This probably eliminated several candidates.
I thought of them as a stock worth buying or investing in if you will.
I began to gather all this information and cross check the names that kept coming up in the top ten and then the top five.
Here they are…And maybe a few surprises.
We could all spend the next few months quibbling over this list but for the sake of this post, here’s where we stand.
*Other notables showing up on several polls and lists were: Axl Rose, Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler and even Kurt Cobain. I decided to eliminate any “guitar playing frontmen.”
Another post for another day.
Robert Plant was in virtually every poll and on every site. Interesting because if you did this same thing for drummers, John Bonham would be at the top of any drummer list or poll as would Jimmy Page for guitar players. This theme will continue, watch closely.
Jagger always showed up as did Freddie Mercury and Jim Morrison. Bono was a bit of a surprise. At least to me.
So I started to dig around and see of these frontmen who are the most collected and highly valued. Here’s what I found.
The above album signed by all Zep members sold at Julien’s for $10,000. Hard to know what a single vintage Plant signature might go for on an original album. Certainly not anywhere close to this price. The fact this is signed by the entire band seemed to make all the difference in the price. Even a Plant/Page signed album brings a lot less than you would think. Of course they both are still signing today.
The toughest and the most valuable signature of this group is obviously John Bonham. So anything he has also signed brings the Plant signature up considerably.
Which leads me to begin to think if there is additional members of a band that are “superstars” in their own right like Page and Bonham of Zeppelin, the band as a whole is worth more than the parts.
*The album below signed by both Plant and John Bohnam is currently selling on ebay at the starting price of $5999.99. Again, assume because of Bonham’s signature.
Here’s a few Queen items provided by my friend Jeff Gold from Recordmecca.
A fully signed Christmas Card sent by Queen to a longtime friend and co-worker. Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon have each signed this with various shades of blue pen. The card measures 4 3/8″ x 8 3/4″ closed and is in near mint condition. While forged autographs are common online, this is absolutely genuine.
Sold for $1250.
This next item is to die for.
Forgive the terrible pun, but here is a truly “Killer Queen” collectible–a handwritten letter sent by the Queen frontman Freddie Mercury to Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman, the legendary music executive who signed Queen. As you may know, Queen is one of the most collectible groups in the world. And any artifact related to Freddie Mercury is highly sought after. Mercury sent this letter to Holzman in 1973, as the band was finishing “Queen ll,” thanking him for his “genuine interest (in Queen) from the very start.” Holzman was very aggressive in pursuing and signing Queen, which he wrote about with great eloquence in his excellent book “Following The Music” (if you’re a fan of Elektra, or it’s artists, I can’t recommend this book more highly. Holzman signed many extremely important artists, including The Doors, Tim Buckley, the Butterfield Blues Band, The Stooges, the Incredible String Band, Judy Collins, and many more.)
The full text of the letter reads: “Dear Jac, Just thought I’d drop you a line to say we’re all absolutely bowled over at the reaction with which Queen are happening in the States. I’d like to thank you, personally, for your genuine interest from the very start. Both Brian and John have recently excelled themselves in their performance and presentation, and you’ll be pleased to know that they don’t make it look so easy anymore. I hope you like “Queen ll.” We’ve worked like demons on it, with a lot of sweat and blood gone into it, but it’s been worthwhile. Brian, John and Roger send you their fondest. Looking forward to seeing you again soon, Love, Freddie Mercury.” As you might imagine, artists don’t often send record executives this kind of personal letter of thanks. Jac was touched, and kept the letter it in his files. Recently Jac decided he’d like to sell this letter, and use the proceeds to fund a music scholorship in Freddie’s name. He’s asked Recordmecca to sell it on his behalf, and we will be conducting an auction for it on Ebay beginning June 16 (check here on that date for a link.) The minimum bid will be $9,999. When collecting autographs and letters, the important things to consider are the provenance (where did the item originate, how has it come to market), content (in the case of a letter, does the text relate to why the writer is famous, or shed light on their career or work), timing (when in the writer’s career does it date from), format (typed letters are less desirable than handwritten ones; personalized stationery adds value) and of course who the seller is and what kind of guarantee of authenticity they offer. In every way, this letter is a home run. It comes from the original recipient, a famed record executive who signed Queen, and who has written a two-page letter of authenticity to accompany it. The content and date couldn’t be better; Mercury writes just as Queen has broken big in America, to the man who made it possible, expressing his sincerest thanks. The format is equally impressive—this is completely handwritten on die-cut Queen stationery.
Final price is unknown for the above item. And again, Freddie isn’t signing anymore which certainly accounts for the rarity and scarcity of his signature.
But this is clearly a one of a kind item. So Queen and Freddie high collector value and even harder to come by.
Bono and U2.
Another gem from Recordmecca.
The unique manuscript for a Bono interview/U2 article, annotated by Bono in pencil. Celebrated British journalist Max Bell was hired by The Face magazine to interview U2 in Los Angeles around the release of their “Rattle and Hum” album and film. After he’d written the article, U2’s PR person, Regine Moylett asked Bell if he’d let Bono see the article before it went to press. Bell faxed the article to Moylett at the London office of Island Records, and shortly afterward he received back the fax, with Bono’s handwritten corrections and revisions–and a few jokey comments by Bono. The article appeared, heavily edited, in the December 1988 issue of The Face; most of Bono’s comments had been incorporated into the text, but a good deal of Bell’s article has been cut by the publication’s editors (which isn’t uncommon.) The manuscript runs 26 pages total, with 23 handwritten notations from Bono in pencil. A few are a single word or two, but most are at least a number of words if not a line or two (we have reproduced 4 here.) Bell kept the transcript, feeling it was an important artifact; and we obtained it directly from him. Included is his handwritten letter of authenticity, as well as a copy of The Face featuring the interview.
Bono and U2 are still going strong today. And while right now Bono and Co. may not be considered by some “rock royalty” quite yet, trust me they soon will be.
*Check out Recordmecca’s site for U2 rarities.
“Ladies and Gentlemen….The Rolling Stones.” Mick Jagger.
Frontman for what has been referred to as “the greatest rock and roll band in the world.”
And Mick has over the years defined what in fact a front man is.
Second to The Fab Four probably the most collected and highly prized rock band. Setting auction prices everywhere for their memorabilia. But is a Mick signed anything worth as much or more than the entire band? Oddly not really. Unless we’re talking about a set list in his hand, handwritten song lyrics, a contract, a personal letter or note. But no, not just an autograph.
Here’s a few unique Mick items that have very high collector value.
All from the collection of Gary Rocks.
First, a set of five pages of handwritten notes on Rolling Stones note paper belonging to Art Collins Exec. VP of Rolling Stones records at the time. Here Mick discusses his thoughts for Art to read in a meeting regarding the marketing of the Stones newest album “Tattoo You.” Again not just an autograph, but content that’s interesting and has insight into the band’s marketing and release of a new album.
Appraised at $10,000-15,000.
*Recently these were on display at the RNR Hall of Fame for the Stones exhibit.
Here’s a close up of two pages.
The piece shown above was a list written by Mick for his choices for single releases for “Tattoo You.” Of course kicking it off with “Start Me Up.” A copy of this was also on display at the Hall of Fame.
Appraised at $5,000-7,500. Both of these Jagger items were purchased from Jeff Gold of Recordmecca and from the Art Collins Collection several years ago.
Below is a Mick signed paper with Bianca, circa 1973 bought for a few hundred.
So, you can still find single signed Mick items for very reasonable money. The rare signed items or the unusual documents and papers, are bringing the significant auction prices.
Currently listed on ebay…..MORRISON, JIM. The Lords and the New Creatures. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970. First Trade Edition. Signed by the author / rock legend Jim Morrison: “For John Bragin, Jim Morrison.” With ownership signature. Minor spotting to the top edge, else a fine bright copy in a fine bright dust jacket. The lead singer, composer and lyricist of The Doors, Jim Morrison’s first published book of poetry. Enclosed in a handsome custom cloth and gilt-stamped purple leather clamshell box.
Opening bid, $15,000. This is a beauty. So far this is the most expensive item I have been able to find online. I’ve seen single signed endorsed bank checks selling for upwards of $8500 on ebay. There are a few listed right now.
That doesn’t mean the sellers are getting that. It would appear there are very few rock stars that can command that kind of price for a single signed item. In essence a piece of paper with no real historical significance. But Jim evidently can at least ask.
These prices are consistent with ones I’ve seen actually sell in the past. There are so few examples of his signature these days that when one comes up it usually sells immediately.
An entire Doors set, just on plain paper can bring close to $8500-10,000 plus in auction. Easily topping the Stones, Queen and U2.
Courtesy of Recordmecca and Jeff Gold.
Jim Morrison – 1971 “Paris Journal” Manuscript / Notebook (The Doors)
Paris Journal is published in full in The American Night: The Writings of Jim Morrison Volume II (Vintage Books, 1990.) The American Night notes “The entire notebook consists of one angry, reflective and defiant poem. As there are only three places in the notebook where words or phrases appear to be crossed out, this appears to be a clean and finished draft. (Morrison) wrote the title “Paris Journal” on the front of the notebook’s black cover…These are among the last lines he wrote.”
Paris Journal was part of the legendary 127 Fascination box, the archive of Jim Morrison manuscripts saved after Morrison’s death by his common-law wife, Pamela Courson. After Courson’s death in 1974, the manuscripts went missing, and were rediscovered 1986 in Northern California, in a strongbox labeled “127 Fascination”. Courson had given them to a paramour in the Bay Area for safe keeping; and while he’d returned some of her possessions to her family, he’d kept the 127 Fascination manuscripts.
When the manuscripts resurfaced, attempts were made to publish them, but the Morrison and Courson families objected and a legal settlement was eventually hammered out. After the settlement, Paris Journal was sold, and has been in a private collection until now.
Scans of the Paris Journal were made available for the Jim Morrison Archives. Recordmecca is proud to offer the Paris Journal, truly a museum quality collectible of the highest order. With Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.
In December 2013, another of Morrison’s notebooks from Paris, filled with his ramblings and short poems, sold for $250,000. at auction.
(Note: The 1986 copyright date was added by the individuals who discovered the 127 Fascination box, prior to the legal settlement with the Morrison and Courson estates.)
So here’s my summery.
Jim has a mystical magic surrounding him and therefore unlike many other rock stars can command the highest of prices for his signature. Of course the fact he’s a member of the elite “27 club” I’m sure helps. His signature continues to rise in value and collectors are clamoring for anything he has touched or signed.
Any single signatures by any of the above will fluctuate and vary in price depending on the market and desirability.
Items of any significant historical relevance such as documents, notes related to a specific time period or the recording of an album or tour, or if the item itself is just rare and unusual, the signature increases the value dramatically.
Look for rare and unusual items that are signed.
Not just scraps of paper with single signatures. Again, unless those scraps of paper were signed by Jim Morrison. It’s appears that Jim Morrison is in a league of his own. A member of a very exclusive group of frontmen that could sign or write pretty much anything and it would be coveted and desired by the most seasoned and savvy collectors around the world.