One of the biggest “holy grail” items that collectors seek is Iron Maiden’s first 7-inch record, a three-song EP called “The Soundhouse Tapes.”
“That little 7-inch single can sell for $600, $700, which is an amazing amount of money for a single for a band that made it 30 years ago,” van Gool said.
Also popular are posters, T-shirts and demo tapes. An early Metallica T-shirt recently sold for $1,200, he said.
“I think the biggest challenge is the availability,” van Gool said. “If you really want the original records or the first demos or the old T-shirts or concert posters, all those things were made in relatively small quantities.”
Demo tapes were huge in the early 1980s, when fans simply couldn’t get their metal fix any other way.
Today, they are extremely collectible, van Gool said.
“The demo has really become a very unique staple to the history of heavy metal,” he said. “As the black sheep in the world of music, heavy metal was not given the light of day, and when it really started to explode, there were other more popular genres that record companies wanted to put their dollars in.”
As a result, most metal bands put out demo tapes long before they ever pressed vinyl records.
“Demos were affordable, and you didn’t need a record company to make them; you could go into the studio for a couple of days , put together a four, five, six-song demo and you could run ads in magazines that would start writing about these bands, all on the basis of their demos,” van Gool said.
There were a lot of bands that made demos, but whose never made it to an album. When it comes to demos, the more obscure they are, the more desirable.
“A lot of musicians on those early demos ended up playing in another band,” van Gool added. “You’re bound to find the roots of a well-known artist on these demos, which makes it just the more fun and intriguing.
Van Gool lists Metallica’s “No Life ’Til Leather” demo as one of those highly desirable, “holy grail” kinds of collectibles.
Autographs are another great collectible, although they are not always extremely valuable, van Gool said.
“The great thing about most heavy metal bands is that they are, in my opinion, more approachable than most other artists you can think of,” van Gool said. “The moment you start to act like a superstar, you’re gonna lose fans. Your fans need to feel like they can associate themselves with you.”
That means the desire to bootleg signatures isn’t as high in the metal realm as in other genres of music, he said.
When it comes to stage-worn clothing, pristine isn’t always the most desirable state, he added.
“The more an item shows wear and tear, the better, because the more use a piece of attire has, the more it will tell you that the artist really enjoyed wearing that piece,” van Gool said. “When you get something that has makeup on it or smudges on it or hairspray on it, or, even better, bloodstains on it, that, in my opinion, definitely adds value.”
The focus of The Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction is near and dear to van Gool, who grew up listening to and collecting memorabilia from bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon.
“It was such a great time to live through those years,” van Gool said. “On a personal level, I always felt very close to heavy metal, because I literally grew up on it. It’s fun for me as an auctioneer, 30 years later, to do an auction with musicians and bands that, 30 years ago, I used to follow as a fan.”
Putting the auction together is more of a labor of love than a job, he added.
“It also gives me a good excuse to play a lot of heavy metal these days for quote unquote ‘research purposes,’ and not everybody here agrees with me on that,” van Gool said with a laugh.
The sense of history associated with the memorabilia featured in this auction is staggering, Van Gool said.
“You have to look at an individual piece, and you’ve gotta think about on how many stages this microphone stand has been, or what songs were recorded through this particular guitar, or how many photos have been made of this individual wearing this shirt or boots or whatever,” van Gool said. “It’s not just a shirt that’s on a mannequin that you photograph. There’s a little bit of history in front of you.”
The auction lots are continuing to evolve, as many of the bands are first getting off the road from the hectic summer touring season. Confirmed headliners including the Al Jourgensen collection, which features everything from amps and road cases for guitars to microphone stands, pins, jackets, rings, sunglasses, gloves, hats and boots from the early 1980s until 2008.
“You name it, it’s in there. He even included original master recordings from the early Ministry days,” van Gool said.
When Ministry officially retired in 2008, it played its final farewell show in Ireland. A concert poster from that last show, signed by Jourgensen, also is in the auction.
Whether you dig autographed records, signed posters or stage-worn attire from your favorite artists, the one thing that really matters at the end of the day is a piece’s provenance, van Gool said.
Pantera, White Zombie, Metal Church, Exodus, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Whitesnake, Dio, Quiet Riot, Mr. Big, Winger, Nelson, Queensryche, Alice Cooper and Rainbow also are represented, he said.
The final auction lineup will boast about 400 lots that range from concert photos sold with negatives and full rights, to vinyl, stage-worn clothing, backstage passes, concert posters and instruments.
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