Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland – Exposing The “Blue Type” Hype

Since the advent of eBay, sellers have been hyping UK versions of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Electric Ladyland with blue type and larger photos of Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell as “true first pressings.”  We have long disputed this claim, and now we have evidence to refute it.  For those obsessed with minutiae like this, read on.  For the rest of you, we’d suggest listening to this album—Hendrix’s masterpiece—instead.

When “Electric Ladyland” was released, Jimi Hendrix was an international superstar, and the album sold huge quantities from the outset– yet there are very few examples with blue type.  If these were first pressings, logic would dictate there would be far more blue type copies than ones with white type.

Furthermore, I’m lucky enough to own part of Jimi Hendrix’s personal record collection, including his own copy of Electric Ladyland (sold at auction by his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham.) It’s not much of a leap to assume that Jimi’s copy would be a first pressing, yet it has the white type.

The streaky blue type on the covers in question is actually a result of a printing error—it’s made up of two shades of blue, a whitish-blue and a solid blue. This is the result of what’s called a “stripping error.” Without getting too technical, printing a full color image uses a process called “four color process printing,” which creates a color image by combining tiny dots of four different color inks. When the dots don’t line up perfectly, you get an error such as the streaky printing here. An imperfect print job like this would never have been approved and would surely have been corrected immediately (as former creative director at two major labels, I have first hand experience with this.)

Electric Ladyland  was originally issued in the UK as a double album and on two individual discs, Part 1 and Part 2.  The back cover of Part 2 has similar larger photos of Mitch and Noel and a solid blue type—strongly suggesting the error originated with confusion between this and the double album’s gatefold.

Now comes the interesting part.  Last month’s Record Collector magazine featured an interview with Edwin Pouncey, the English music journalist and artist also known as Savage Pencil.  Pouncey, an occasional Recordmecca client, mentioned buying Electric Ladyland on the day of release—so we contacted him to find out what color the type was on his copy, indisputably a first pressing.

He replied “Regarding my copy of Electric Ladyland. As I wrote in the RC article, I had ordered my copy in advance and it was bought on the day of release. The writing inside this copy (that I still have) is white with the two small photos of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding underneath the larger photo of Hendrix – which in my copy is positioned on the left hand side of the gatefold cover. Until a few years ago I didn’t know that the blue text version existed.

Here’s something else to muddy the water still further.  A local record dealer I know once told me that he too bought a white text version on the day of release. In the shop that he bought his copy there were several empty blue text/large photo sleeves in the window. When he asked why the covers were slightly different, the shop owner replied that they had been supplied by the record company for promotional purposes. He asked if he could have one when the display came down, and the shop owner happily agreed. Unfortunately, through the passage of time, he has since lost this “promotional” sleeve, but it is an interesting story.

I also couldn’t help noticing that the UK single LP edition of EL2 is a version of the blue text inner gatefold.  The tale about the record shop does suggest that the blue cover/larger band member photos version was a printing error and that Track were giving them out as publicity items to get rid of them.”

Pouncey’s account leaves little doubt that the white type version was the original first pressing—sold on the day of release—and highly suggests, as we have long maintained, that the blue type is nothing more than an unintentional printing error.

There are many examples of insignificant printing variations or errors being hyped on eBay as true first pressings to boost the price—such as the ridiculous Sgt. Peppers “Fourth Proof” cover.  We’re happy to debunk one here.  If you want a true first pressing of Electric Ladyland, get one with white type.  And enjoy one of the greatest albums ever made.

-Jeff Gold

And by the way, have you noticed that “Electric Ladyland” has the word “Dylan” in it ?  Jimi certainly idolized him.


New Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives

On April 9, I was thrilled to attend the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s new Library and Archives in Cleveland.  Many years in the making, the Rock Hall has opened a truly world class (I know it sounds crazy) study center dedicated to Rock and Roll.  The opening featured a panel discussion with academics (and the great Lenny Kaye), as well as a gala party.  But the highlight for me was touring this state-of-the-art facility.

The 22,500 square foot library and archives shares a brand new building with the Cuyahoga Community College’s Center for Creative Arts in downtown Cleveland, two miles from the main Hall of Fame building.  The archive hosts a vast collection of books, periodicals, audio and video recordings, and important archival collections (including the personal papers) of some of popular music’s most important figures, including pioneering DJ Alan Freed, Atlantic Records founders Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, Commodore Records’ Milt Gabler, Warner Bros. Records longtime chairman Mo Ostin  and former Warners and Capitol head Joe Smith.


In 1992, I donated my Jimi Hendrix collection, at that time perhaps the largest in the world, to the Hall of Fame.  My younger daughter was about to be born, and the collection filled much of what was to become her room–so I sent 26 boxes of Jimi records and memorabilia to Cleveland (it was their first donation.)  The Hall of Fame building wouldn’t open for another 3 years, but I’d attended the induction dinners since 1986 and knew it was going to happen.  Since then, I’ve donated thousands of items to the Rock Hall, and have worked with them to help further their mission to document, preserve and exhibit the history of popular music.


It was wonderful to see the library and archives open for business–and an emotional experience to see my Hendrix collection for the first time in 20 years.  As I explained to the staff, collecting was a far different enterprise in the pre-internet era.  You wrote letters to people who answered your classified ads in Melody Maker or The Rock Marketplace, posted “wanted” note cards on bulletin boards in record stores, prowled thrift shops, swap meets, flea markets, junk stores…anywhere where you might get your fix.  It was hard work.  And so it was great so see those old vinyl friends again, and know they were someplace they’d be well cared for–and available for future generations.

The library and archive is open to the public, though some of the collection is accessible only to qualified researchers, scholars and students, by appointment.  The library and archives website has a searchable database and overviews of their archival collections.  Congratulations to director Andy Leach and his team; though they’ve just opened, the library and archives is already an invaluable resource.

And it goes without saying–but I’ll say it anyway–if you’re anywhere near Cleveland, by all means, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum too.  They have just completed a redesign and it has never looked better.  Literally thousands of the most unusual and extraordinary music artifacts you’ll ever see — John Lennon’s Sgt. Peppers suit, Hendrix’s Stratocaster, Otis Redding handwritten lyrics, Elvis’s car, Mick Jagger’s stage outfits, The Doors instruments…it just goes on and on.  And they’ve just opened a superb new Grateful Dead exhibit  (put together by their curatorial director, Howard Kramer.)  For music obsessives like myself, a trip to Cleveland is a must.

Jeff Gold   5/6/12


I love collecting letters and documents that help tell the story of popular music, and thought I’d start posting a few of my favorites.  I buy this kind of thing whenever I can, keeping those that interest me most, donating the rest to archives that will preserve and share them–most often, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (which is opening their Library and Archives on April 9.) Here are two great ones, both with some insightful Bob Dylan content.

The first was sent by folk singer Malvina Reynolds (best known for her song “Little Boxes”) to San Francisco Chronicle music critic and Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Ralph J. Gleason, on May 23, 1963.  Written in response to what must have been a negative review of the Monterey Folk Festival, she notes “There were some good things at the Monterey Folk Festival–you must have missed them, or they didn’t appeal to you anyway.  A young fellow by the name of Stewart Clay, with a home made railroad song; a girl named Janis Joplin, square built, impassive, singing blues in a high, skin-prickling voice like a flamenco woman; Bob Dylan, and some others.”  She goes on to argue that Gleason missed the point of the festival, ending “When thousands of kids are doing something with diligence and devotion, there are going to be some geniuses amongst them–it figures mathematically.  And something is coming of this.  Bob Dylan is a sign.”

Boy, did she ever get that right.  At the time this was written, Janis Joplin was (forgive me) a complete unknown; she didn’t move to San Francisco and join Big Brother & The Holding Company for another three years.  I can’t imagine this wasn’t her first trip West.  And Dylan’s May 18 Monterey spot was his first West Coast appearance; according to Clinton Heylin’s excellent “Bob Dylan: Life In Stolen Moments” Dylan drove to Monterey with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and producer Jim Dickson; performing 3 songs at the Festival; almost surely “Talkin’ John Birch Society Blues,” “Masters of War” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” then dueting with Joan Baez on “With God On Our Side.”  Remember, this was 9 days before the release of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” He too was almost completely unknown, and for Reynolds to invoke the genius-word was pretty prescient–and daring, indeed.

While I haven’t yet found Gleason’s review of the Festival, he later wrote that at first he didn’t get Dylan, thinking him a Woody Guthrie wanna-be.  But very soon after this was letter was written, Gleason embraced Dylan in a very big and public way, becoming a friend, confidant and very vocal and important early supporter.

The second letter was also written to Ralph Gleason, this one on a “Monday evening” in December, 1965, from an unknown “Donna.”

She writes in response to Dylan’s legendary KQED Press Conference on December 3, 1965.  Gleason organized and hosted what became Dylan’s first and only televised press conference.  It’s available on home video and I’m sure online, and is a fascinating glimpse into Dylan’s psyche.  Donna writes to Gleason with her insightful take on Dylan and the press conference, and rather that excerpting her letter, I suggest reading it.  There’s an excellent and comprehensive website I can’t recommend enough for those interested in the press conference.

While letters and documents such as these might not have a great deal of monetary value, I think they’re  important in charting the arc of popular music.  If anyone reading this has any interesting letters, documents or files they are interesting in parting with (or any rare records or music memorabilia) please do email me.

VIRTUAL MUSEUM: An Amazing Jazz Collection


Just before the end of the year, I was fortunate to purchase an amazing collection of classic Jazz memorabilia and autographs, some of which I’d originally sold years ago–and never thought I’d see again.  This post shows off some of the most interesting and unusual items, many of which are for sale at Recordmecca.   But beyond the commercial aspect, I thought readers might enjoy seeing some truly rare and amazing artifacts from an era long passed.

To the left is a large poster advertising two November 1962 shows in Stockholm, Sweden by the “classic” John Coltrane Quartet–with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison.  These shows were later issued on CD as “The Complete Stockholm Concerts.”  Coltrane posters are extremely rare, and we can find no other surviving example of this bold beauty.

John Coltrane is probably my favorite jazz artist and the next item is truly extraordinary–Coltrane’s own Grammy Nomination plaque awarded to him in 1965 for “Best Original Jazz Composition: A Love Supreme.”  Coltrane was nominated for only two Grammy’s during his lifetime, this one and “Best Jazz Performance: Small Group Or Soloist” the same year.  He didn’t win either, so this award–owned by Coltrane himself, is as close as he got.  The fact that it’s for his most important work, “A Love Supreme,” and that it was consigned by Coltrane’s family to the legendary 2005 Guernsey’s Jazz Auction make this as desirable a piece of Coltrane memorabilia as you’re ever likely to see.  From the same auction, we also here have Coltrane’s own Downbeat Reader’s Poll Award for 1966 (First Place: Tenor Saxophone.)

Next are some great jazz handbills–first, a truly rare handbill for two performance by Charlie “Bird” Parker at the Open Door, a club in New York’s Greenwich Village where jazz writer and Brooklyn College teacher Bob Reisner held a weekend jazz club.  These shows took place in early January, 1955–only two months before Parker’s death, at age 35.  Charlie Parker memorabilia is impossibly rare, and this handbill, while simple, says it all–“The Greatest In Modern Jazz.”  And along the same lines, another Open Door handbill, this one from 1954 for Thelonious Monk and His All Stars.  What a scene that must have been.  And finally, a 1966 handbill for the “Titans of the Tenor !” show at New York’s Philharmonic Hall, featuring John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins and Zoot Sims on the same bill.

And now some autographs.  First, a framed Charlie Parker “cut” (a small piece of paper with a signature,) framed with a famous William Gottlieb photograph of Bird (also signed.)  As you might imagine, an authentic Bird autograph is the rarest and most sought after signature in jazz.

And here are the very rare autographs of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, both signed on photographs (making them all the more desirable,) and a later signed Miles Davis postcard.  All highly collectible, and rare (at least authentic ones are.)

Here’s a great framed Sun Ra handbill with the autographs of his Arkestra (more signatures than appear on the typed legend.)  Sun Ra is a scarce signature, but this is the only set of Arkestra autographs we’ve seen.
And finally, here are two handwritten John Coltrane musical manuscripts, from the hand of the great man himself.  These were also sold by his family at the Guernseys 2005 Jazz Auction, so in addition to being rare, they have unbeatable provenance.
While our main focus is on rock, blues, soul, and folk memorabilia and records, we’re very proud to be able to offer these special Jazz collectibles at Recordmecca .  And as always, we’re looking for high end music collectibles and rare records–so let us know if you have anything to sell.

Bruce Langhorne’s Debut Album-50 Years After His Recording Debut

Fifty years after his recording debut (on the 1961 album “The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem”) the great Bruce Langhorne has released his debut solo album, the appropriately named “Tambourine Man.”  Bob Dylan, in the liner notes for his “Biograph” box set said ““Mr. Tambourine Man,” I think, was inspired by Bruce Langhorne. Bruce was playing guitar with me on a bunch of the early records. On one session, (producer) Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was like, really big. It was as big as a wagon-wheel. He was playing, and this vision of him playing this tambourine just stuck in my mind. He was one of those characters…he was like that. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that.”

Bruce played guitar on Dylan’s “Freewheelin'” and “Bringing It All Back Home” albums, later reuniting with Dylan in 1973 to play on the soundtrack to “Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid.”  In the past 50 years, Bruce has backed up some of the most important folk artists ever, including Odetta, Richard and Mimi Farina, Joan Baez, Tom Rush, Gordon Lightfoot, Buffy Sainte Marie, Richie Havens, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Fred Neil, John Sebastian, Eric Andersen, David Ackles, Mike Bloomfield, Babatunde Olatunji, Mickey Hart, and Carlos Santana (ok, not a folk artist), as well as composing film scores for Jonathan Demme and Peter Fonda (the legendary soundtrack to “The Hired Hand.”)  And in his spare time ?  Bruce became a hot-sauce maven, with his highly regarded “Brother Bru-Bru’s African Hot Sauce.” 

In the past few years, Bruce has endured some serious health problems, and so his friends Debbie Green and George Madaraz decided it was high time for Bruce to take the spotlight.  And so with Bruce, they have released “Tambourine Man,” “to preserve and present this unique and joyous music composed by a guy with definite legendary status.  The compositions represent the third stage of his creative career and have been only heard by a small circle of friends.”

The CD pictures Bruce’s legendary Turkish tambourine, and album artwork (under the CD tray) reproduces Bob Dylan’s message to Bruce, written inside his copy of Dylan’s “Chronicles”:  “To Bruce, “Mr Tambourine Man”  Back there was something else !  Like they say, it was better to be in chains with friends than in a garden with strangers.  So true, huh ?  Stay well and all the best, Bob Dylan.”

All proceeds from the album’s sales go directly to Bruce, and it’s available through Amazon.
Bruce is a wonderful man and a great talent, who I’m proud to call a friend.  Check it out and support one of the greats.


Here’s something I thought people might enjoy seeing; a 1967 management contract for The Byrds and The Jet Set, their previous incarnation, which included Jim McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark. This 10 page document is signed by the original Byrds lineup–David Crosby, Jim McGuinn, Chris Hillman, Michael Clarke, and Gene Clark (who signs using his legal name, Harold E.  Clark.) This document unravels the Byrds and Jet Set’s original management contracts with managers Eddie Tickner and Jim Dickson and formalizes a royalty arrangement with Naomi Hirschorn, who had  provided cash to the band in their earliest days, so they could buy stage clothing and equipment. 

There is a tremendous amount of detail here regarding royalties, outstanding loan repayment, their record contract with Columbia Records, and the Byrds and Jet Set’s business affairs.  We have never before seen any documentation of the Jet Set, which makes this a bit more special. The contract is signed on the final page by all 5 band members (though at this point, Crosby and Clark were no longer members–but shared in past royalties and the Byrds partnership,) Eddie Tickner, Jim Dickson, and Naomi Hirshhorn.   Hirschorn deserves to be better known; according to music writer Richie Unterberger, she invested $5000 for a 5% share in the then-unknown Byrds, enabling them to buy state-of-the-art equipment including a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar for Roger McGuinn, a Fender bass for Chris Hillman (who was previously using a cheap Japanese bass) and a full drum kit for Michael Clark (who was previously using cardboard boxes!)  

         The contract is for sale at Recordmecca.

Ralph J. Gleason on Bob Dylan/Ramparts Magazine, March 1966

Here’s a great Ramparts cover story by early Dylan supporter Ralph J. Gleason from March 1966; Gleason was one of the most important music critics in America at the time and his early and wholehearted embrace of Dylan was important to Dylan’s acceptance by the critical community.  This article features some great Dylan quotes and Gleason’s admission that he first found Dylan to be “a drag” but listening again “has changed my life fundamentally.”  While scanning this article for an eBay listing (an original illustration for the article from Gleason’s collection) it struck me that this is an article few have seen–so we’re presenting it in its entirety.  Enjoy !

It Was 50 Years Ago Today–Bob Dylan’s First Concert

It was 50 years ago today—well, tomorrow–that Bob Dylan played his first concert, on November 4, 1961.  Billed as Dylan’s “First New York Concert” it was, more accurately, Dylan’s first anywhere concert.  Prior to this show, at Carnegie Chapter Hall, he had only played club dates and a few guest spots on multi-artist bills.  Dylan arrived in New York on January, 21, 1961 and began playing hoots at clubs like Gerdes Folk City almost immediately. 

His first “break” was a two weeks stint opening for blues giant John Lee Hooker at Gerdes in April of that year.  On September 26, Dylan began another two week engagement at the club, opening for the much better known Greenbriar Boys.  Though Dylan was the opening act, New York Times music critic Robert Shelton focused entirely on Dylan in his review of the opening night.  The impact was immediate, and a few days later Dylan was signed to Columbia Records by legendary A&R man John Hammond (who had discovered/signed Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie, and later Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughan.)

Five weeks later, Izzy Young, owner of Greenwich Village’s Folklore Center (and an early Dylan supporter) presented Dylan “In His First New York Concert” at Carnegie Chapter Hall, a 200 seat room that was part of the Carnegie Hall complex.  Reportedly only 53 people attended, but it was the start of a touring career that continues today.  Dylan expert Clinton Heylin notes in “Bob Dylan: A Life In Stolen Moments” that he sounded “extremely nervous and uncertain of himself,” and performed “Pretty Peggy-O,” “Black Girl (In The Pines),”Gospel Plow,” “1913 Massacre,” “Backwater Blues,” Young But Daily Growin’,” “Fixin’ To Die,” and “This Land is Your Land.”

We have reproduced here the program for the concert, with it’s ridiculous biographical sketch, drawn from an interview Dylan gave Izzy Young.  He exaggerates for effect, claiming he got his start playing in carnivals, was raised in Gallup, New Mexico, and was given a scholarship to the University of Minnesota.  Classic stuff.

Velvet Underground Collectibles from the Sterling Morrison Archive

Recently we’ve had the good fortune to acquire some truly amazing Velvet Underground artifacts from the collection of the late, great Velvets guitarist, Sterling Morrison.

Sterling actively collected memorabilia from throughout his band’s career, and we feel fortunate to have obtained many one-of-a-kind items from his widow, Martha Morrison.  We’ve created a new Velvet Underground Memorabilia Blog to showcase some of these extraordinary items that we have for sale.

Here we are showcasing some great period Velvets ads from Sterling’s archive, and a few previously unknown and undocumented Velvet Underground posters and handbills from Sterling’s collection (available for purchase via the Velvets Blog and Recordmecca.)  So without further ado, the stuff !

Here’s a great and very unusual ad promoting Nico “singing to the sounds of The Velvet Underground” at the New Mod-Dom.  The Velvets and Andy Warhol’s multi-media spectacle, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable first played the Dom, a Polish hall in New York during April of 1966.   The EPI included the Velvets, Warhol films, a light show, dancers (including Gerard Malanga with his “whip-dance”) and more.  While it’s been disputed that the hall the Velvets played in was called “The Dom,” this ad from a February, 1967 issue of the Village Voice, makes it clear that was the case.  We’ve never seen anything before that highlighted Nico in this way.

The Velvets and Warhol’s multi media spectacle the Exploding Plastic Inevitable returned to the Dom, now renamed The Balloon Farm, in September and October 1966.

During March and April, 1967 the Velvets played New York’s “new happening discotheque” The Gymnasium.  Some of these shows were billed as “Andy Warhol presents The Complete Spectrum of Sounds with the Velvet Underground, the Dick Hyman Trio & Tony Scott, “one of the world’s greatest Clarinetists.'”  !!!

An ad for a series of shows at Hollywood’s Whiskey A-Go-Go where the Velvets shared the bill with Chicago Transit Authority, aka Chicago.  A very strange double bill, indeed.

This is a previously unknown and undocumented 1969 poster for a series of shows by the Velvets at the Unicorn, in Boston.  Few Velvets posters featured their photograph, and this one is a beauty. We were thrilled to find this in the Morrison attic.

This is a previously unknown and undocumented handbill for the Velvets shows at The A-Go-Go in West Yarmouth, Mass (on Cape Cod.)  This one is particularly interesting as the artwork is a direct rip-off of Wes Wilson’s famous 1966 poster for the Velvets and the Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore in San Francisco. 

Yes, yet another unknown handbill–this one from the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Hollywood, California.  This lists shows in November/December 1968, including The Velvets with Bay Area band Cold Blood.  Of note, soon after the Velvets shows were shows by the great Moby Grape.  And as the copy notes, “playing with Moby Grape for the first time anywhere will be the Flying Burrito Brothers–a new band formerd by two former Byrds, Chris Hillman and Graham (actually Gram) Parsons.  Truly historic.

And last but certainly not least, here is an extremely rare Velvet Underground set-list, handwritten by Sterling Morrison.  This was likely for a Chicago show, as it’s written on the back of a form from a long defunct Chicago accounting firm.  Only a handful of Velvets setlists survive, all from Morrison’s collection. 

If you’d like to see more of this kind of thing, or are interested in purchasing items from Sterling Morrison’s archive, visit our Velvet Underground memorabilia blog.  Thanks for looking.

The Rolling Stones: Gimmie Shelter Deconstructed

My friend Zach just sent me a link to an incredible website where you can listen to any or all of 9 individual basic tracks to the Rolling Stones classic “Gimmie Shelter” and mute parts selectively to hear individual tracks in any combination.  Multiple guitar, drum, vocal parts and one for Bill Wyman’s bass–amazing to hear how it all fits together so beautifully.  A wonderfully intuitive interface too–just click the circles to turn off that track.  Check it out here : GIMMIE SHELTER

Dylan Manuscripts Pulled From June 23 Christie’s Sale

Earlier today we received word that the amazing Bob Dylan manuscripts offered in the June 23 Christie’s New York sale (see below) have been pulled–a close friend of ours received word from Christie’s that “Lots 319-325 have been withdrawn, pending resolution of a title issue”.   Evidently Christie’s had no other comment beyond this.

We don’t know what happened, but the logical guess would be that Dylan objected to the sale of these important manuscripts.  The catalog noted that these were originally from the collection of Dylan’s late manager, Albert Grossman.  Dylan and Grossman ended their relationship with a long and highly contentious court battle, and Christie’s note that there was a “title issue” suggests that there might be an issue with the provenance of the manuscripts.  More as things develop…


Today’s mail brought me an auction catalog for Christie’s upcoming sale of “Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts,” which takes place June 23 in their New York showrooms.  While manuscript auctions typically aren’t my thing, this one includes some truly mindblowing items for any Dylan fan.  Hidden at the very end of the catalog are six astounding lots of original Bob Dylan manuscripts–indisputably AUTHENTIC ones–the likes of which you aren’t likely to see offered again.

These come from the collection of Dylan’s former manager, the late Albert Grossman, and if you’ve been confused by the proliferation of Dylan items for sale–real and most often forged–take a long, hard look at these, for they are as real as real gets.  Offered for sale are drafts and partial or whole working manuscripts for Outlaw Blues, Love Minus Zero / No Limit, Queen Jane Approximately, Farewell Angelina, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggies Farm, Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, I’ll Keep It With Mine, Visions of Johanna, and the unreleased You Don’t Have To Do That.  

The manuscripts offered are typed, handwritten, or more commonly a combination of both; and illustrate Dylan’s writing process in a way words can never convey.  As Clinton Heylin has written about how Dylan is “an exemplar editor of his own work.  Rarely will he substitute an image or a phrase with an inferior one.”

If you’ve read this blog before, you know I’ve written extensively about issues of authenticity and provenance.  I’ve been fortunate enough to examine many indisputably authentic Dylan manuscripts and these rank with the very best.  I encourage anyone interested in Dylan’s work to spend some time looking closely at these (links below.)  They are truly special.

Outlaw Blues
Love Minus Zero / No Limit/You Don’t Have To Do That
Queen Jane Approximately
Farewell Angelina
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Maggie’s Farm/Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream/I’ll Keep It With Mine
Visions of Johanna

And if you’re a collector of rare records or music memorabilia, or have rare vinyl or music collectibles to sell, please check out the Recordmecca website.

Recordmecca Featured in Rock Poster Article in THE GUARDIAN

Here’s an article on the revival in poster collecting in The Guardian (the UK newspaper,) featuring an interview with yours truly:

Never mind the Blu-Tack: the rock poster goldrush 

Would you pay six figures for a vintage rock poster? Dave Simpson on a booming market

Highly sought after . . . a detail from Emek’s 2006 Nick Cave poster, which took three months to complete.

“If you buy a £10,000 watch, the day you walk out of the shop, it’s worth £6,000,” says Jeff Gold. “If you buy a £10,000 poster, it’s a £10,000 poster. And, if you have good taste and choose wisely, it will gain in value.” A former Warner Bros record executive, California-based Gold runs memorabilia website Recordmecca, world leaders in a booming market in rock concert posters.

Uncertain economic times have led increasing numbers of people to turn to rock memorabilia, and to rare posters in particular, as an alternative form of investment. Some of the figures involved are eye-watering, with the biggest prices fetched by vintage artwork, what Gold calls “snapshots of an era”. For years Elvis posters were the most highly sought after (particularly the year 1956), selling for up to $30,000. Then, in 2004, a poster for the Beatles 1965 Shea Stadium concert sold for $69,000 at auction; a poster for their 1966 gig at the same venue fetched $132,000 later that year.

Now contemporary posters are fetching silly sums, too. A Citizen Kane-style poster for a White Stripes’ 2003 gig by Chicago artist Rob Jones sold on the night for £15, but fetched £1,600 on eBay in 2008. “Each [poster] was done in a limited edition of 333, for every concert, and there won’t be any more,” explains Jody Goodall, director of Manchester’s Richard Goodall gallery.

Goodall recently sold a poster for Nick Cave’s 2006 gig at the city’s Bridgewater Hall for £500, 10 times the original price. Naturally, it’s no ordinary poster. “It’s hand-drawn by Portland-based artist Emek and took him three months to complete,” Goodall says. “Every detail relates to a Cave song [roses for Where the Wild Roses Grow, and so on]. It’s one of a limited run of just over 300, of which only a handful are in circulation.”

The market in poster art is nothing new, but the web has turned a trend into a boom. As Gold explains: “You can find immediately something you’d previously see once in a lifetime.” A poster’s collectibility lies in a combination of band, artist, venue, the condition and the scarcity of the work. Sixties artist Rick Griffin’s posters for the Grateful Dead fetch huge sums, as long as they are from the initial print run. Identifying such rare posters can mean determining the exact shade of colour, or using a micrometer to measure the thickness of the paper. “The difference can be thousands of dollars.”

Poster art went into decline in the 1980s, but there was something of a renaissance towards the end of that decade, when Texas artist Frank Kozik started producing posters for underground bands: the Backyard Babies, early Nirvana. As quickly as these posters went up, kids tore them down. Some American artists – Emek, Rob Jones, Chicago’s Jay Ryan – are as collectible in their own right as the featured bands.Many contemporary designs are undeniably beautiful. Gina Kelly, who has designed posters for Stornoway and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, says: “I focus on qualities like innocence, joy, psychedelia to make an image that I feel speaks to the band’s audience.” One of Jody Goodall’s favourite designs is Jay Ryan’s Kings of Convenience poster, featuring bears drinking tea in a tree. “Nothing to do with the band, it’s just a quintessential, eccentric image.” (He’s offering it for £200.)

In the end, of course, a poster is only worth what someone will pay for it. Gold suggests that the closest thing to a surefire investment today would be a poster for Nirvana, “the 90s generation’s Jimi Hendrix”. Goodall argues that in 30 or 40 years’ time, punk-era posters or those for Manchester’s Hacienda will be the most highly sought after. Not every one of them, of course. “We always tell people, ‘If you’re going to buy one, love the poster,'” he says. “That way, if it doesn’t appreciate in value, you’re still happy.”

The Virtual Museum: Some New Discoveries


With the Recordmecca website freshly updated, the time seemed right to share some of my new discoveries in another installment of “The Virtual Museum.”

First up is perhaps the most unique item we’ve ever had the pleasure to offer–Grace Slick’s dress, worn while performing with the Jefferson Airplane at the Monterey Pop Festival, in June 1967.  The Monterey Pop Festival was the first major rock music festival, and along with the Woodstock Festival, it is considered among the most important live music events ever. “Monterey Pop” (and the film made at the festival) introduced the Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and many other artists to mainstream audiences, and is viewed today as one of the major counterculture event of the 1960’s. The Airplane was one of the breakout acts at Monterey, and their dynamic front-woman and singer, Grace Slick, is a big part of the reason why. 
This is the caftan (a Moroccan dress) that Grace wore that historic day at Monterey.  She can be seen wearing it in the film “Monterey Pop,” as well as in the recently released extended DVD box set, which features the Airplane’s complete performance at Monterey. At right are some still photos from the Airplane’s set showing Grace wearing the caftan, as well as a Japanese EP with artwork featuring live shots from Monterey (she is also pictured wearing this while performing in San Francisco in the program for the Airplane’s 1968 US Tour.)

We purchased this directly from Grace Slick and her daughter, China Kantner (who’s father is the Airplane/Starship’s Paul Kantner.)  Historic items such as this rarely surface; and when they do, it’s unusual for them to be so well documented.  Not to mention the unimpeachable provenance of having come from Grace Slick, herself. 

 Next up is another item with extraordinary provenance–Joan Baez’s own copy of the rare concert poster for her 1965 tour with Bob Dylan.   
Baez gave this poster to Tisha Fein, the longtime talent coordinator for the Grammy Awards. While working as music producer and talent coordinator for the 1970’s television show “The Midnight Special,” Fein worked with Baez on the show’s salute to the singer (broadcast October 10, 1975.)  We obtained the poster from Fein directly, who authenticated it on the back, writing “Joan Baez gave me this when we did her Midnight Special tribute–Tisha Fein.” 
This often reproduced poster is one of the most scarce and sought-after concert posters of all time. Folksinger/artist/Dylan friend Eric Von Schmidt created this image, carefully balancing the size, height and names of Baez & Dylan so neither would appear more prominent than the other.  Dylan evidently objected to the design, however, and the poster was only used for a few dates, and the rest were discarded. We framed this with a window in the back to show Tisha Fein’s note. 

Here’s a rare album cover slick for Buffalo Springfield’s unreleased “Stampede” album.  “Stampede” was to be the Springfield’s second album, and Atco Records went as far as shooting an album cover and printing a limited number of cover slicks–but management and personnel issues cropped up, and the album was never finished.  Bass player Bruce Palmer was stuck in Canada when the cover was shot, so a stand-in (with a hat obscuring his face) appears in the photo.  The band eventually did regroup and complete a second album, the superb “Buffalo Springfield Again.”  I’m very excited about the Buffalo Springfield reunion, and the opportunity to see Neil Young, Stephen Stills and Richie Furay together on stage next month.

Finally, here’s a beautiful photograph of Jimi Hendrix “in the mylar chamber” by the late artist/photographer/publisher/poet and filmmaker Ira Cohen. During the late sixties, Cohen photographed a number of musicians, poets and artists in a mylar room he built in his New York City loft. He shot Hendrix in 1969, and the guitarist was quoted as telling Cohen “looking at your pictures is like looking through butterfly wings.” Cohen’s mylar photographs appear on a number of album covers, including John McLaughlin’s “Devotion” and Spirit’s “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.” This photograph was included in the traveling show “The Jimi Hendrix Exhibit,” and was used in the artwork for the CD “The Ultimate Experience.”  This print, silkscreened on mylar, is part of an unfinished edition of 100.

If you’re interested in more of this type of thing, check out the Recordmecca website.  And let us know if you have any rare records or music memorabilia you might be interested in selling.  We’re always looking for collectibles and can pay high prices for the right material.

Bob Dylan’s Muse: Suze Rotolo, 1943-2011

I just heard the very sad news that Suze Rotolo has passed away; she was Bob Dylan’s girlfriend and muse in the early to mid 1960’s.  Rotolo is the girl huddled next to Dylan on the iconic cover to his second album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan;” and he wrote one of my favorite Dylan songs, “Boots of Spanish Leather” about their relationship.

Rotolo, of course was much more than Dylan’s ex-girlfriend; she was an activist, an artist, a wife and mother, and later in life revealed herself to be a talented writer, with her wonderful book “A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties” (in which she referred to Dylan as “the elephant in the room of my life.”)  Every Dylan fan should get this book, which is filled with Rotolo’s evocative memories and insightful perspective on an extraordinary period in music and in American history.

Rotolo had long avoided the public eye, and only hesitantly emerged into the “Dylan world” with the opening of the museum exhibition “Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966,” organized by the Experience Music Project in Seattle.  Rotolo loaned the exhibition some of her Dylan memorabilia, including books Dylan had inscribed to her, and at the invitation of curator Jasen Emmons, attended the opening in November 2004 (unfortunately I was out of the country for the opening and never got to meet her, but as a consultant to the exhibit, we corresponded by email a bit.)

In 2006, perhaps as a result of seeing how much interest there was in Dylan memorabilia, Rotolo consigned some of her extraordinary items to Christies, which auctioned them that December.   Her collection included rare photographs, cards and books Dylan inscribed to her, as well as some extremely rare records.   For hardcore collectors like myself, this was an amazing opportunity to bid on truly unique and meaningful items.  And of course, in a world filled with Dylan forgeries, these were things with rock solid provenance, directly from the source.

The pieces I wanted most were two early blues and jazz compilation albums, purchased by Dylan on his first trip to England in November, 1962.  On the back of these, Dylan made notations such as “Made for and about Bob Dylan,” “Drinked up and let out by Bob Dylan” and “Read Thoroughly and with full throttle by Bob Dylan” (after the liner notes.)

To me, these were talismanic objects, filled with the music we now know inspired Dylan so much.  When I asked Rotolo by email why Dylan had written on his albums, she told me that it was similar to making notes in the margins of books for him.  Later I realized at the point he annotated these, he had only been going by the name Bob Dylan for perhaps a year and a half–in fact, he had only legally changed his name in August, 1962–three months before buying these.  It’s almost as if he was seeing how his new name fit alongside those of these legendary artists.

Happily, I was the high bidder for both of these, and they now reside in a place of honor in my collection.  So for those who want to see what the real thing looks like–genuine, beyond the shadow of a doubt Dylan handwriting and signatures from the early 60’s–here are scans of both albums, from Bob Dylan’s record collection, circa 1962 One of the more unusual areas of my record and memorabilia collecting is hunting down records owned by artists that inspire me (there’s more about this in my earlier posts on Jimi Hendrix’s record collection.) Both of these albums, and the Hendrix albums I own are what collectors call “well played”–far from mint condition; obviously frequently played by their original owners.

These were records they listened to, loved, and in many cases were inspired by; some of the building blocks of their artistry.  Part of their musical mojo.  So thanks to Suze Rotolo, we have a bit more insight into what Bob was listening to at a most formative time.

Below is one more great item Rotolo auctioned–a postcard Dylan wrote to her from Rome, where he was vacationing in 1963.  As you can see, it’s addressed to the apartment they shared on (positively) 4th Street.  He mentions that bella regatza (actually bella regazza, or beautiful girls) are everywhere, then invokes Rotolo’s Italian heritage, ending with “Gotta go, gotta meeting with the Pope about all the colored people coming over here–Amore, Bob.”

Suze will surely be missed by those who knew her and by Dylan fans the world over–but she’ll live on in photographs, the songs she inspired, and the people she touched through her art and writing.

Hendrix/Mothers/Animals–Now THAT Would Have Been a Show !

Here’s an amazing letter from Michael Jeffery, manager of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Animals to the great Tom Wilson, at that time an A&R man at The Animals’ label, MGM Records, proposing a possible Eric Burdon & The Animals/Mothers of Invention/Jimi Hendrix Experience concert at Carnegie Hall !

Can you imagine–Hendrix, at the peak of his game, between “Are You Experienced” and “Axis Bold as Love;” Zappa and the Mothers likewise, between “Absolutely Free” and “We’re Only In It For The Money;” and Burdon & The Animals between “Winds of Change” and “The Twain Must Meet.”  Jeffery mentions adding Hendrix to the bill as a “way to make the show a real sell-out attraction.”  No kidding !
Michael Jeffery co-managed Hendrix with Chas Chandler, the former Animals bassist and Hendrix’s producer.  Jeffery was a controversial figure, rumored to have been an operative for the MI-5, the British secret counter-intelligence and security service.  There has long been talk that Hendrix was about to fire Jeffery just prior to his death, and rumors he was somehow involved in Hendrix’s demise.  Jeffrey himself died in a plane crash in 1973.
Tom Wilson is one of the unsung greats of the music business; he produced artists running the gamit from John Coltrane and Sun Ra to Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground.  Wilson, while a staff producer at Columbia Records, oversaw some of Dylan’s greatest recordings, including the albums “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” and “Bringin’ It All Back Home,” as well as “Like A Rolling Stone.”  He also produced Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album, “Wednesday Morning, 3 AM” and after it wasn’t a hit, was inspired to put electric instruments on their song “The Sounds of Silence.”  The original, acoustic version of the song had failed to garner any attention, and so Wilson, inspired by The Byrds electric version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” overdubbed electric instruments, without Simon & Garfunkel’s knowledge.  They may not have initially appreciated this, but the song went to #1 and launched their career.  Wilson is also famous for signing the Velvet Underground, Mothers of Invention. and Blues Project to Verve Records, all of whom he produced.  
I love finding documents like this, which evoke a magic time in the music business, and in this case, reveal an unknown (and amazing) bit of information.  I’ll be posting more of these in the coming months.