If a record turns up that you’ve never seen before, there are plenty of references to help identify it. Price guides and discographies will probably help the beleaguered publishing industry survive.
There are some excellent poster references, though these are mostly for the Fillmore and Avalon series. “The Art of Rock” and “The Art of Modern Rock” books are fine publications for the coffee table, representing a wide range of music posters, but they are far from definitive.
For most of what makes up the vast, unruly world of music memorabilia, you’re pretty much on your own. Partly what makes this an exciting collecting field is the high frequency of pleasant surprises. Someone’s always discovering something new, whether it’s a boxing-style R&B poster, or an elaborate promo gewgaw, or a record-company photo of a band under a different name, before they became famous.
So let’s take a snapshot of what’s turned up lately around the country. Record stores never know what to expect when someone comes in the front door. An experienced collector can’t guess what the next garage sale will unveil. Even someone who controls the radio playlist won’t be able to tell what fanciful toy a promoter might dream up to entice airplay.
Hugo Montoya, who sells soul and rock 45s on the Web through Poca Madre Enterprises, recently bought a pile of old comics. Nothing too exciting, except inside a Spider-Man issue was hiding a rare Kiss fanzine published by the Netherlands Fan Club in 1980. Not too shabby.
A friend of Ed Odel of Hotplatters.com turned up an “Apple Full Dimensional Stereo” reel-to-reel copy of The Beatles’ White Album, bought it for $1 and turned around and sold it for $75 on eBay.
Band business cards are fun items to find, particularly if they’re from a band’s early days. Alec Palao of Ace Records U.K. keeps feeding his Northern California garage obsession by finding incredible items directly from the sources themselves. Recently he obtained a Golliwogs business card, complete with the personal phone numbers of John Fogerty and Stuart Cook. The numbers were disconnected, of course.
Rockaway Records has a nice display of three early Beach Boys cards from 1962, owned by original member David Marks. “The Beach Boys — Dave Carl Brian Mike Dennis — for your entertainment pleasure.”
Jeff Gold is someone who’d pay $500 for the Golliwogs card. But then, Gold is, uh, gold when it comes to premium music memorabilia. He’s been at the game as a collector and dealer for a long time. His Record Mecca Web site has featured some of the most prized items in record collecting. Earlier this year he purchased the Ralph J. Gleason Archive from the late columnist’s family. This has proven to have its share of surprises, such as a Great Society demo tape (you know, the band Grace Slick was in before that other band); a 1945 Charlie Parker concert program; and a previously unknown handbill for a 1967 concert outside the walls of San Quentin Prison(!) by the Grateful Dead and Country Joe & The Fish. New to his site is an original issue of the Mason City Globe-Gazette dated Feb. 3, 1959 — yep, this is the one with the big headline news about the death of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens.
News & notes
Speaking of posters (we were speaking of posters, weren’t we?), one major distinguishing mark between the concert posters of the 1960s and 1970s and those being produced now is that many new posters are being created as souvenirs. Most are not printed before concerts to actually promote them and get paid admissions. Artists are creating wonderful works of art as commemorative items, often making them signed, numbered editions. Euclid Records, a brick-and-mortar store in St. Louis, has made a strong effort to gather a large collection of these wonderful creations from widely diverse concerts by everyone from De La Soul and James Brown, Mission of Burma and The Melvins, to Neko Case and The Buzzcocks.
Although it’s slightly off the topic of this column’s focus, Euclid has also created its own series of exclusive 45s, recording songs performed live in the store. They have commissioned artists to design dazzling cover designs for the singles. All are signed, numbered and obviously limited, featuring rare tracks by Steve Wynn, The Bottle Rockets, Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey, and others.
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One highlight of the upcoming West Fest in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on Oct. 25 — another one of those Woodstock 40th anniversary events — is a hoped-for performance of “Purple Haze” played by 3,000 guitar players — all at once. This is the dream of Steve Roby, the teacher of a Jimi Hendrix course at a local community college. Either join in or bring your earplugs.
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The Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame has yet to set up an actual exhibition gallery, but they do have a gift shop and the know-how to have a good time. On Sept. 6 they had a successful benefit concert in Scottsdale featuring performers including current Hall of Fame inductees Jessi Colter and Jerry Riopelle (The Parade). Previous honorees include Al Casey, Glen Campbell, The Tubes, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Alice Cooper, Waylon Jennings and Lalo Guerrero.
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Setting up for future collectibles? Wolfgang’s Vault, engorged with acquisitions, is partnering with a clothing manufacturer to start selling a line of clothing for men and women later this Fall. “This collection will feature interpretations of the iconic imagery of the greatest music, moments and venues from the past five decades of rock.” Whether you’ll be able to wear a Fillmore poster or something resembling Janis Joplin’s bead blouse is unknown at this moment.
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S.F. Rock Posters' 16th HeART of Rock Auction is live and will run through Sept. 20. More than 200 items are up for sale, including a Lenny Bruce BG 13 poster, an Acid Test 1966 S.F. State Art of Rock handbill, a 1970 Led Zeppelin poster from Sweden, a Jimi Hendrix Sacramento 1970 poster and a Grateful Dead Rick Griffin Aoxomoxoa poster.
Stephen M.H. Braitman is a music appraiser (www.MusicAppraisals.com), writer, collector, and fan.