Music memorabilia is Rocking All Over The World

Last weekend marked the 40th anniversary of Glastonbury Festival. One hundred and seventy seven thousand music fans headed to Pilton, Somerset to enjoy performances from around 700 acts playing on over 80 stages.

The event continues to represent the pinnacle of the summer festival season, with tickets selling out in a record time this year. Today, with CD sales continuing to suffer, festivals and live concerts represent the primary source of income for many within the music business.

This has resulted in an increased level of corporate sponsorship and involvement in these events. Alongside this, we are also witnessing a new more mature, middle class audience with more of the disposable income required to engage in these events.

More significantly, this increased interest in live music is occurring on a global scale. Brazil and Russia, two nations with newly developing economies and an increasing middle class population, have played host to some of the world's biggest music events. In 2006, the Rolling Stones played to over 250,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro, while "back in the USSR" Paul McCartney played to some 100,000 Moscow fans in 2004.

The increasing global interest in live music experiences coupled with the high levels of disposable income in the consumer market has led to many fans investing in unique pieces of music memorabilia.

Autographed music collectibles and other unique memorabilia investment offer fans a unique opportunity to engage with the work of a favourite musician and gain insight into the artistic process. A prime example of this type of memorabilia is a hand written set of lyrics, seen as the Holy Grail for many music collectors and investors.

These collectibles are scarce and today can fetch impressive auction prices, making them an ideal investment for collectors and fans alike.

For instance, the lyrics to 'A Hard Rains A-Gonne Fall', penned by Bob Dylan, sold at auction for over £33,840  ($51,000) against an initial estimate of £20,000 ($30,000). Back in 1997, George Harrison's handwritten lyrics to 'My guitar gently weeps' also sold for £300,000 ($452,000).

Here the top ten most valuable music memorabilia collectibles sold at auction. 

10. John Lennon's 1970 Mercedes-Benz- In April 1989, John Lennon's 1970 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman limousine sold for £137,500 ($207,000) at Christie's in London.

9. Buddy Holly's Gibson acoustic guitar- Presented in a tooled leather case made by Holly himself this Gibson acoustic guitar sold for £139,658 ($210,500) in Sotheby's, New York, on June 23, 1990.

8.Lyrics to "Getting Better"- These Handwritten lyrics date back to 1967 and sold for £161,000 ($242,000) at Sotheby's in London on September 14, 1995.

7. Jimi Hendrix's Fender Stratocaster- The guitar used by Jimi Hendrix at the famous 1969 Woodstock concert, sold on April 25, 1990, at Sotheby's for £198,000 ($298,400.)

6. Lyrics to "Candle in the Wind"- The handwritten and rewritten Bernie Taupin lyrics for Elton John's  famous song were auctioned off at Christie's in LA for £278,512 ($419,740) on February 11, 1998.

5. Eric Clapton's "Brownie" guitar- Used to record the popular "Layla," this guitar remains one of Eric Clapton's most sought after collectibles and sold for £313,425 ($472,353) at Christie's in New York on June 24, 1999

4. Jerry Garcia's "Wolf" guitar- One of two custom made guitars, the Grateful Dead front man sold "Wolf" for a massive £523,860 ($789,500)  at Guernsey's auction on May 9, 2002 at Studio 54.

3. Jerry Garcia's "Tiger" guitar - On May 9th 2002, Garcia also raised an additional £635,339 ($957,500) for the second of his custom-made guitars.

2. John Lennon's Steinway piano- Used to compose "Imagine," the legendary Steinway Model "Z" upright piano, complete with cigarette burns, was auctioned on October 17, 2000 at Fleetwood-Owen's online for a truly impressive £1,450,000 ($2,185,250) to singer George Michael.

1. John Lennon's Rolls-Royce- Coming with psychedelic paintwork, this 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V tour limousine sold for a record sum of £1,768,462 ($2,665,200) in Sotheby's, New York, on June 29, 1985.

As demonstrated, the top ten consists of rare and unique memorabilia investments. When investing in collectible music memorabilia, it is important to remember, the more unique the item, the higher its potential value to a collector.

Today, autographed music memorabilia investment represents one of the fastest growing markets. If we look at the top 40 most sought after celebrity autographs, we find that over 32% of these come from within the music industry. Furthermore, the last decade has seen a massive increase in the prices surrounding these autographs.



2000 (£)

2010 (£)

Inc %

Beatles , The

Signed album




Beatles, The

Signed photo




Carpenters, The

Signed photo




Dylan, Bob

Signed photo




Harrison, George

Signed photo




Hendrix, Jimi

Signed album




Jackson, Michael

Signed photo




Lennon, John

Signed album





Signed photo




McCartney, Sir Paul

Signed photo




Presley, Elvis

Signed photo




Rolling Stones, The

Signed photo




Starr, Ringo

Signed photo




Music memorabilia prices can often increase due to the passing of an artist. Karen Carpenter's demise played a significant role in the increased interest in autographed items from The Carpenters, with the value of these collectibles rising by 442.2% in just ten years, due to their scarcity, as well as the group's popularity and the tragic nature of her death.

More recently, the past year has witnessed a massive surge of interest in all memorabilia related to the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. In 2009, the rhinestone glove worn by Jackson when he introduced us to the iconic Moonwalk dance at the 1983 Grammy awards, sold for over £211,700 ($319,000), well above its £33,000 ($50,000) estimated value, to Hong Kong businessman Hoffman Ma.

More recently, a glove, worn by Jackson during the farewell Jackson 5 "Victory" tour, sold for an impressive £126,000 ($190,000) in Las Vegas.

Jackon's 'Holy Grail' rhinestone glove

However, in terms of unique autographed items, the highest selling piece of Jackson memorabilia has been his handwritten and signed lyrics for the 1983 hit 'Beat It.' This single propelled the Thriller album to becoming the highest selling album of all time.

The pen-scrawled Beat It lyrics went under the hammer with an estimate of £1300-2700  ($2,000-4,000) but eventually sold for an incredible £40,000 $60,000. The sale easily places Jackson amongst the big hitters in today's autograph market. To put that into perspective, this market includes historical figures like George Washington, King Henry VIII and Neil Armstrong.

Yet the music memorabilia market remains relatively new and as such, there are numerous opportunities for investment in rare and potential valuable collectibles.

 A prime example would be the undisputed Queen of Pop, Madonna.

Having enjoyed a career spanning thirty years, Madonna remains as popular as ever. Her most recent "Sticky and Sweet" world tour grossed $408 million, the highest ever for a recording solo artist. To date, Madonna has had thirty-seven top ten singles in the United States and the most number one UK albums ever, records that place her popularity above even Elvis Presley.

In terms of her status, Madonna also shares similarities to Marilyn Monroe in her image as both a sex symbol and icon. Following Monroe's demise, autographed collectible memorabilia of all kinds from clothes and pianos, to autographs and pictures, became highly sought after. Today, it represents one of the best investments in rare celebrity memorabilia.

The interest in Monroe memorabilia was not limited to the Western World either, with many Chinese collectors looking to invest. Yet again, parallels appear with Madonna.

Considering Madonna's global popularity coupled with the interest in pop stars like Michael Jackson from eastern collectors like Hong Kong Businessman Hoffman Marr, there is the potential for a huge worldwide market of Madonna memorabilia collectors.

This huge collector base has the potential to increase demand for items like autographs, thus driving up prices and making an investment now, something with huge growth potential.

The popularity of collectible memorabilia related to the late Michael Jackson has set a clear precedent. While it may be difficult to determine when music memorabilia related to Madonna will surge to these levels, now is an excellent time to invest. A signed Madonna photo, has seen a 138.7% increase in value over the past decade. Yet, they remain relatively cheap to any would be investor with a price around £895 (£1350).

Memorabilia such as hand written lyrics or unique autographed items offer yet another exciting opportunity for investment with an even bigger potential for growth to any would be collector or investor.


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