Auction to feature rare KISS acetate, Zeppelin drummer Bonham’s hat

By Susan Sliwicki

Even rock stars have first drafts.

Before KISS completed the final version of its anthemic song, “Rock and Roll All Nite,” the band tested the waters with an acetate that had them rockin’ in the daytime and partying every night instead.

And the piece of history that proves it, a rare acetate, is among the items being offered at Backstage Auctions’ Summer Classic Rock and Roll Auction. Bidding runs Sept. 7-15, 2013, with a VIP preview launching Aug. 31, 2013, at www.backstageauctions.com.

KISS Rock and Roll acetate

Check the label: KISS was planning to rock and roll all day and party every night. Guess that changed up when they hit the big time and were busy filling stadiums at night. Photo courtesy Backstage Auctions.

GOLDMINE: Roughly how many lots will be offered in the Summer Classic Rock and Roll Auction? What items and artists will dominate it?
JACQUES VAN GOOL: There will be approximately 500 auction lots which — for the most part — will be dominated by classic rock bands. The featured artists with the most lots will be KISS, which, as always, promises to bring some fireworks. This will be the fourth time that we have a significant KISS presence in our auctions, and we have again managed to find some fantastic items. Other featured artists will be Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Boston, Styx, Journey, Rush, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, etc. The auction will offer just about everything our buyers are used to seeing: autographed items, artist-worn attire, RIAA record awards, concert posters, collectible vinyl, lots of backstage passes, unique photos, slides and negatives, great promotional items, and so on.

GM: Which lot has caught your eye?
JVG: Gosh, there are so many, but one that I personally enjoyed is a KISS acetate from January 1975, with an alternate version of their anthem “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite.” The song is even titled different and was recorded prior to KISS going into the Electric Lady Studios in New York to record their third album, “Dressed to Kill,” which features the version of “Rock ’n’ Roll All Nite” we all came to know. But the one item that really deserves to have a special highlight is one of John Bonham’s personal hats. It’s not every day that we open a box and are immediately humbled and left speechless, but the hat is amazing.

John Bonham drumming and wearing hat

A letter and this photo from John Bonham’s family accompanies a hat owned and worn by the Led Zeppelin drummer that will be on the auction block starting Sept. 7, 2013, via Backstage Auctions. Photo courtesy Backstage Auctions.

GM: What are the top big-ticket items in the auction?
JVG: We are still adding to the inventory, and I am working on a few great pieces to see them added to the auction. So I can’t give you a definitive ‘Top Three,’ but among the high-end items you’ll find the John Bonham owned and worn hat, which comes with photos and letter from the Bonham family, as well as RIAA records awards issued to Michael Jackson, Robert Plant and John Lennon. The value of Bonham’s hat will be upwards of $6,000. The RIAA awards will all be in the four-digit range, as well.

John Bonham hat

A hat worn by Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham is among the featured lots in Backstage Auctions’ l Summer Classic Auction. Bidding begins at www.backstageauctions.com on Sept. 7, 2013, and wraps up Sept. 15, 2013. Photo courtesy Backstage Auctions


GM: What test pressings or other lots should vinyl record collectors check out, and why?

JVG: There are several interesting vinyl lots related to KISS, Led Zeppelin, Boston and Styx, that are worthy of checking out. We also have a lot of 10 factory-sealed Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers debut album from 1976, which is something you won’t see every day.

GM: What are some of the other lots of interest?
JVG: Such a simple question, which I find so challenging to answer. I suppose that when you’re in the very midst of it all, you end up liking everything! Either way, here are a few that do stand out:

• There’s a collection of over 20 original Fillmore East concert programs featuring the likes of The Who, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple and many others. It even includes the very last program before Bill Graham closed the doors in New York. The value of the programs is anywhere between $30 on the low end and about $100 on the high end.

Alice Cooper toy gun

Several promotional items, including this Alice Cooper toy gun, are among the items being offered at auction via Backstage Auctions. Photo courtesy Backstage Auctions.

• We have several fun promotional items, such as the infamous Led Zeppelin blow-up ‘Zeppelin,’ a Pink Floyd blow-up chair and a Alice Cooper toy gun. All of these items usually fetch a few hundred dollars each.

• We managed to find great concert shirts and exclusive crew jackets, including KISS 1977 L.A. Forum, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page 1995 U.S. tour, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen tour jackets. We expect all these jackets to sell for anywhere between $300 and $500 each.

• The auction will feature a huge assortment of personal items that belonged to Peter Criss and Eric Carr, the first and second drummers for KISS, respectively. It includes items from boarding passes and signed receipts to original artwork, clothing items and even household goods ranging from German steins to ashtrays. We have purposely tried to include affordable items, so that everyone can “own a piece.” Opening prices will start as low as $25 and will go up toward $500 or more on others.

• There is an impressive collection of mid- 1960s autographed items, photos, documents and negatives, which all came from the archives of a fan club agency in Los Angeles. Most of it is concentrated around The Beach Boys and Sonny & Cher, but it will also include other artists. A love letter from Brian Wilson to a friend is particularly interesting — especially considering the fact that he was married at the time he wrote the letter. The range for these items will be anywhere between $50 and $500.

• Collectors of original photos, slides and negatives will have plenty to feast their eyes on. Two lots that stand out are lots with color slides from the 1975 Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas, which includes several sensational shots. The lots vary in size and will start between $250 and $750.

We have worked hard — as usual — to make this a fun auction experience for all collectors out there. There will be plenty of high-end items for the upper echelon of collectors, and there are just as many fantastic auction lots for those with a smaller budget. There are collectors at every imaginable spending level, and we have always made it a point to make sure that we cater to everyone. Looking at what we have to offer, I know that we have succeeded in that goal. This will be one of our best Classic Rock auctions we have been able to put together, and I believe that it will show once the auction goes live. I encourage anyone reading this to check out our website and feast your eyes on all the great rock candy we have to offer!

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