By Patrick Prince
Backstage Auctions, the Houston, Texas, music auctioneer, can always be counted on for a wonderfully organized auction of one-of-a-kind music memorabilia. In April, Backstage Auctions presents its Rock & Pop auction packed with many irresistible items for collectors. Make sure you mark your calendar for April 23 to May 1.
Backstage Auctions owner Jacques van Gool was on hand to explain to Goldmine the significance of this upcoming music auction.
GOLDMINE: Tell us about the highlights of the Rock & Pop auction.
Jacques van Gool: The auction as a whole is one big, glorious fest of collectibles! We are still processing collections but in the end I anticipate that we will have in the vicinity of 1,000 auction lots. As an auctioneer it’s always hard to point at your favorite child. There are obvious highlights, such as Johnny Cash’s album-used recorder. At the same time, one might find Paul Stanley’s stage-worn boots or an interview cassette with Glenn Frey the highlight of the auction. For me, I just look at the event in its entirety, and what I see is a spectacular celebration of Rock & Pop memorabilia.
GM: A Johnny Cash recorder…
JVG: That’s a good one, too! In the late 1960s, Johnny Cash bought an Ampex MM-1000 recorder for the recording of several of his albums. In the mid-1970s, Johnny then sold the recorder to the SmithLee Recording Studio in St. Louis, who subsequently sold it to a Kansas-based recording studio owner. It’s been in Kansas ever since. Not only does this 2-inch recorder (the “Rolls-Royce” of its time) come with the original paperwork from Johnny Cash, but the Kansas studio owner wrote Johnny and received a letter back confirming that, indeed, this was the recorder he used for a number of his own albums. Not only are working 2-inch recorders hard to find for those who want or need one, but to potentially own one with this level of music history is an exceptional opportunity. Heads-up though; this is a 700-pound behemoth, so proper space and reinforced floorboards are required.
GM: Many of our readers will be interested right away in The Beatles collection in this auction. Please detail it for us.
JVG: Indeed, it is a remarkable collection, coming from the estate of a former Florida-based DJ. Safe to say that this individual had a legitimate man-crush on The Beatles, as the collection alone consists of nearly 1,000 individual pieces, ranging from massive amounts of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and current-day merchandise all the way to an impressive collection of 1960s memorabilia, vinyl and reels. Among the eye-poppers are a Beatles turntable, rare Vee-Jay records, a Butcher cover and a fantastic collection of Bag One artwork, including two original portfolios, five John Lennon signed lithographs, 1970 exhibition programs and many other official prints.
GM: You also have Bowie memorabilia up for auction. Does a rock star’s death make memorabilia more sought after? Is that merely a mainstream assumption? Or does it depend?
JVG: Good question and I think it’s a little bit of everything you mentioned. Sure, there’s always the immediate wave of demand and with Bowie that was no exception. But in general, it’s just a small spike on the longevity chart of an artist’s overall degree of collectability. Bowie was already collectible and will remain collectible long after his death. The prices are a little higher now than usual and with time, let’s say a year or so from now, it’ll swing back to where it was. And yes, we do have some cool Bowie collectibles. The one piece that deserves upfront mention is that we have literally the only one existing multi-color vinyl pressing of “Heroes”, coming directly from the L.A.-based pressing plant that was commissioned by RCA Records at the time.
GM: Is there a favorite lot that you are personally excited about?
JVG: Oh man, where do I begin? Maybe I stay close to home. It’s no secret that KISS was the band that made me a collector back in 1975, so I’ve always been partial to KISS collectibles. We’ve got some great stuff this time around, including record awards, vintage 1970s shirts, passes and cards, autographed items and so on. There’s even the original light board controller used to light up the massive KISS logo on the 1979 Dynasty tour. But of all pieces, it has to be the pair of Paul Stanley tour used boots. There’s just something magical about these crazy platform boots.
GM: Anything else you’d like to add about this upcoming auction?
JVG: Yes, there are a couple things I would like to add. One is an amazing collection of Bruce Springsteen memorabilia that includes signed items, rare promotional material, vinyl, concert CDs, record awards, jackets, you name it. There is even of rare college magazine from the 1960s that published Bruce’s first poems. Bruce Springsteen collectors will be thrilled and impressed with the depth and width of everything.
Another fantastic collection features original Fillmore East negatives, mostly from the late 1960s. There are all the usual suspects, but I’m partial to the set of “The Wind in the Willows” negatives from 1967, featuring none other than Deborah Harry.
And speaking of 1967, remember the band The One Percent? Probably not, but it eventually morphed into Lynyrd Skynyrd and we will feature the original management contract for this band containing the signatures of the likes of Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington … and their parents! None of the band members was old enough to enter into a legal contract, hence all the parents’ signatures.
We have a fantastic collection of original interview cassettes that comes from the private collection of a Japanese journalist who interviewed American and British rock stars for a host of Japanese magazines. These are intimate recordings with the very first lineup of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and an hour-long discussion at the Aspen home of Glenn Frey — great stuff.
I can go on and on. There are hundreds of fantastic concert shirts, tour itineraries, backstage passes and tickets, collectible vinyl, Alice Cooper-used stage and album props, more autographed items than one could hang on a wall and an equal number of impressive record awards. There are posters, promotional jackets, and just about everything else. This is hands down one of the most comprehensive Rock & Pop auctions we have ever done and we couldn’t be more proud. Come to our site and feast your eyes on all this amazing music memorabilia and history.
A preview of the Rock & Pop Auction will be live on April 16, until its official opening. The auction will be open for bidding from April 23 to May 1. For more information, or to bid, visit www.backstageauctions.com.