by Peter Lindblad
Loaded with Beatles collectibles, including a Ringo Starr RIAA Gold Record Award for “Rubber Soul”, The Rockin’ Hot Summer Auction hosted by Backstage Auctions will feature items from the collection of radio and television industry veteran Denny Somach.
Several thousand promotional singles from the ’70s, vintage photos of Bruce Springsteen from the Phil Ceccola archives, signed lithographs by the Rolling Stones, Yes and Robert Plant; an Elton John Band signed drumhead from the 2005 U.S. tour; and Bob Dylan original movie cells from his 1967 “Don’t Look Back” movie are just a few of the highlights in the online auction, scheduled for June 21-28.
Jacques van Gool of Backstage Auctions believes the Somach sale will appeal to a variety of collectors. “What I like about Denny’s collection is that it’s a really unique, comprehensive, broad range of collectibles that has just a little bit of everything for everyone,” says van Gool.
Somach estimates there are roughly 5,000 promotional singles in this auction. The bulk of the singles collection is made up of rock, punk, new wave, progressive rock, British rock, pop, R&B and soul recordings. He came by the cache of his vinyl collection while working in radio and comments that “95 percent of them are in Mint condition.”
“It’s one of the most comprehensive collections I’ve ever seen,” van Gool added. “It’s got a lot of early-day punk and new wave, including obscure U.S. releases with some really crazy picture sleeves, but also early-day releases from Television, Talking Heads and Patti Smith.” The U.K. is represented by all the big ones, including the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Jam, the Damned and so on. One of the highlights is a 1978 German Sex Pistols 7-inch single of “Anarchy In The U.K.”, which van Gool rates as “exceptionally rare.”
Other vinyl spotlight items include a host of colored vinyl, picture discs, radio station-only releases, test pressings and acetates, such as the 1972 Wings acetate of “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, which is “an obscure Wings songs to begin with,” says van Gool. “To find a one-sided acetate is pretty rare.”
That’s because, as Somach says, it was one of those things that “ … most people didn’t save.”
In all, the sale boasts more than 50 lots of Beatles collectibles. Somach worked for EMI on the merchandising for the label’s “Beatles At The BBC” release.
There are also Gold and Platinum RIAA Record Awards for The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Yes, Kansas, Alan Parsons, Eric Johnson and others. Plus, the auction has hundreds of signed collectibles, including lithographs, books, CDs, posters and lyrics with autographs from members of such bands as Genesis, Yes, ELP, The Doors, Procol Harum, Eagles, Traffic, Jethro Tull, Queen, Rush, Yoko Ono, B.B. King, Beach Boys, Alice Cooper and The Who, among others.
Additionally available are rare concert and promotional posters and a vintage magazine collection that features copies of Creem, Hit Parader, Beetle, Rock Scene, Zoo World, Electric Factory, Kerrang, Record World, The Drummer, Crawdaddy, Fusion, Aquarian and more, including Goldmine and Discoveries. “They are, for the most part, in good condition,” says Somach, who added that he was sorry to part with those periodicals.
Rounding out the offerings is a treasure trove of rare promotional collectibles, including merchandise, artwork, pins, buttons, concert tickets, shirts, jackets and other items.
“He has hundreds of nicely signed pieces — lyric sheets, CDs, promotional items,” says van Gool. “And a lot of unique merchandise material such as prototypes, the stuff that never got final approval.”
An avid collector who’s been compiling collectibles since the late ’60s, Somach’s career began in college at a radio station in Allentown, Pa. “It was a total accident,” recalls Somach with a laugh. Somach had a friend who had a record out on the A&M imprint. He went to the station at night, eager to persuade a DJ who was playing underground music at night to play his friend’s record. Impressed by Somach’s musical knowledge, he was offered a job. Later, after graduation, Somach became a radio announcer and programmer at Philadelphia’s WYSP-FM. Following a successful run there, Somach left to found Denny Somach Productions.
Over time, DSP grew to be a giant in the field of syndicated and network radio programming. Shows created by DSP included: “Legends Of Rock, Live From The Hard Rock Cafe” for NBC; “Rolling Stone Magazine’s Continuous History Of Rock and Roll” for ABC; and Scott Muni’s “Ticket To Ride.” Then, in 1999, the company created and produced the highly successful “The Rock of the Century” for Dick Clark’s United Stations, which evolved into “The Classics.” A recent DSP production is “Meet The Beatles … Again,” hosted by Pat O’Brien.
In the realm of television, Somach was co-creator of “Friday Night Videos” for NBC-TV and also contributed to the syndicated music show “Solid Gold.” Cable TV networks also reached out to Somach for help. He served as an original consultant to MTV, leading the organization of the channel’s news department and producing “The News That Rocked ’81” program.
That’s not all. Somach has also dabbled in record and video production, producing albums for such rock legends as Johnny Winter, Dave Mason and Peter Bardens of Camel. Perhaps his greatest claim to fame, though, was his work as executive producer of Eric Johnson’s Grammy-winning album A Via Musicom.
Being a major collector himself, Somach is happy these items will find a good home. For his part, Somach needed to clear some space. “Of course I hate to part with it, but I gotta do it,” says Somach. “I’m bursting at the seams.”
Somach, who is afflicted with Type-2 diabetes, will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the American Diabetes Society.
There will be a special online preview of the entire catalog beginning June 14. The auction begins June 21st and will run through June 28th. Visit www.backstageauctions.com for more information.
by Peter Lindblad