Collecting Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Most Valuable Autographs

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Elvis Presley signed Sun record $1,553.50

Vintage rock ‘n’ roll fans love their autographs. Here are seven legendary rockers whose autographed material can bring top dollar in today’s marketplace.

The Beatles

Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles! John Lennon (1940-1980), Paul McCartney, George Harrison (1943-2001) and Ringo Starr comprised the legendary Fab Four. Originally known as the Quarrymen, the Beatles (the name change came in 1960) went on to “revolutionize” the music world, recording such hits as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963), “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964), “Paperback Writer” (1966) and “Lady Madonna” (1968).

The Beatles broke up in 1970, but Beatlemania still thrives today. That includes an almost insatiable demand for genuine Beatles autographs, which can be worth thousands of dollars. Items autographed by the entire Fab Four after 1963 are difficult to find.

Auction results:

  • Autographed group photo inscribed to radio and TV personality George Klein: $13,145
  • 1962 Top Rank Sunday Dancing Club membership card signed by all four Beatles: $3,883.75
  • Beatles logo silk screened shirt signed by John, Paul, Ringo and George: $11,352.50
  • John Lennon-signed 1968 “Glass Onion” music publishing agreement: $3,107
  • George Harrison 1971 signed canceled check: $1,135.25
  • Paul McCartney autographed 8×10 b/w vintage photo: $836.50
  • Ringo Starr 1974 signed canceled check as “R. Starkey” (his real name): $717

Autographed Beatles 4×5-inch photo circa early 1960s $3,883.75

Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. A larger-than-life figure, Elvis starred in 31 movies and recorded a slew of hits, including such rock ‘n’ roll classics as “Heartbreak Hotel” (1956), “Don’t” (1958), “Stuck on You” (1960), “Good Luck Charm” (1962) and “Suspicious Minds” (1969).

The 42-year-old Elvis Presley died of a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee, on August 16, 1977. Presley’s beloved Graceland – the site of his demise – continues to attract loyal fans from around the world.

Although Elvis was a generous signer during his lifetime, genuine autographs from the vaunted “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” are always in great demand, driving up values.

Auction results:

  • 1969 8×10 color promotional photo signed by both Elvis and Priscilla Presley: $1,314.50
  • Elvis-signed 1953 The Herald yearbook from Humes High School, Memphis, Tennessee: $5,975
  • Autographed 1960 restaurant place mat: $1,434
  • 1963 merchandising agreement signed by both Elvis and his manager Colonel Tom Parker: $3,585

Buddy Holly (1936-1959)

Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley (the “e” in his last name was later dropped) was born in Lubbock, Texas, on September 7, 1936. Along with his band the Crickets, Holly vaulted to the top of the rock ‘n’ roll world in the mid to late 1950s, scoring such hits as “That’ll Be the Day” (1956), “Peggy Sue” (1957), “Maybe Baby” (1957) and “Rave On” (1957).

The 22-year-old Buddy Holly, along with fellow rock ‘n’ rollers Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson, died in a single-engine plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 3, 1959.

Auction results:

  • Photo card autographed by Buddy Holly and the Crickets (Holly, Jerry Allison, Joe Mauldin): $1,792.50
  • 45 rpm record “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” signed by Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, Dion Dimucci, Carlo Mastrangelo, Frankie Sardo at the Surf Ballroom, February 2, 1959, the night before the fatal plane crash: $31,070
  • Buddy Holly’s 1958 passport, signed twice as “Charles Holley” (his real name): $26,290
  • Holly-signed 1958 album page mounted with picture disc: $1,015.75

Jim Morrison (1943-1971)

James Douglas Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, on December 8, 1943. The son of a future U.S. Navy admiral, Jim Morrison (along with the Doors) recorded such iconic hits as “Light My Fire” (1967), “Hello, I Love You” (1968), “Touch Me” (1968) and “Riders on the Storm” (1971).

The 27-year-old Jim Morrison died of a drug overdose in Paris, France, on July 3, 1971.

Auction results:

  • Concert photo signed on back by Morrison with small hand-drawn sketch plus 8×10 glossy signed by Doors members Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek: $1,527.50
  • Morrison-signed 1966 American Federation of Television and Radio Artists membership application: $3,734.38
  • The Lords and the New Creatures 1970 poetry book inscribed/signed by Morrison: $4,406.25

Jim Morrison signed 1966 contract $3,734.48

Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)

Johnny Allen “Jimi” Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington, on November 27, 1942. A former member of the 101st Airborne Division, Hendrix became best known for his 1969 psychedelic rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock. His 1966 hit “Purple Haze” – off the Are You Experienced album – remains one of rock’s greatest anthems.

The 27-year-old Jimi Hendrix died of probable asphyxiation from alcohol (red wine) in London, England, on September 18, 1970.

Auction results:

  • Hendrix-signed TWA postcard acquired on a flight from London to New York: $2,151
  • 1967 British concert ticket stub signed by members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Hendrix, Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell): $2,629
  • Handwritten 1967 poem by Hendrix and girlfriend Kathy Etchingham: $7,767.50

Janis Joplin (1943-1970)

Janis Lyn Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on January 19, 1943. Her first public performance as lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company came on June 10, 1966, at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom. Known for her raucous, bluesy vocal style, Joplin recorded such rock classics as “Me and Bobby McGee” (1971) and “Mercedes Benz” (1971).

The 27-year-old Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles, California, on October 4, 1970.

Auction results:

  • Signed off-white album page: $555.68
  • Lengthy 1965 handwritten letter to her fiance Peter de Blanc: $2,390

Janis Joplin autographed album page with photo $555.68

Ritchie Valens (1941-1959)

Richard Steven Valenzuela was born in Pacoima, California, on May 13, 1941. Recording for the Del-Fi label, Valens charted songs included “Come On, Let’s Go” (1958), “Donna” (1958) and “La Bamba” (1958).

The 17-year-old Ritchie Valens died in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 3, 1959, in the same private plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson. Valens had taken his seat on the doomed Beechcraft Bonanza after winning a coin toss with fellow musician Tommy Allsup.

Auction results:

  • Valens-signed 1958 one-page agreement for a concert at Pacoima (California) Junior High School with handwritten notations of songs to be performed, “Come On, Let’s Go,” “Donna,” “La Bomba”: $3,883.75
  • January 31, 1959, autograph book signed by Valens, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Waylon Jennings: $7,170
  • Collection of Valens artifacts, including a signed green album page, his personal cuff links and four b/w photos: $4,182.50

Auction Results and Images Source

  • Heritage Auction Galleries

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