Once deemed old-fashioned, vinyl records have enjoyed a resurgence in the past decade, with 2007 officially marking its comeback, and sales growing at a remarkable rate by the early 2010s. The advent of Record Store Day in 2008 and the Official Vinyl Charts in 2015 firmly cemented the vinyl revival, with modern musicians creating vinyl records alongside the more modern digital downloads.
It will probably never match the popularity of the 1950s-1980s, though, when vinyl was the main vehicle for commercially distributing pop music, and when the internet wasn’t around for streaming, downloading or sharing. As a result, there are those records that are extremely rare (ergo expensive) – the ones where only a few copies were produced, or withdrawn from sale for controversial reasons. Here are the five most valuable records you could own, as valued at auction by Record Collector magazine.
5. Queen Bohemian Rhapsody/I’m In Love with My Car 7 inch single, 1978
Released under EMI Records, this record features the Freddie Mercury-penned hit Bohemian Rhapsody, as well as I’m In Love with My Car. While you’ll be able to find original versions for approximately £24, this particular special edition was also used as an invite to an EMI event – complete with matches, a pen, event ticket and menu, and EMI goblets. The value? £5,000.
4. The Beatles White Album double LP, 1968
With The Beatles’ White Album, there’s a serial number on each cover of the original releases; the lower the number, the more valuable the record. Their ninth studio album, it was simply enclosed in a plain white sleeve with just the band’s name embossed on the front; hence gaining the name White Album. The first pressing is reportedly valued at around £7,000.
3. Sex Pistols God Save the Queen/No Feelings, 1977
Lasting just two and half years, the Sex Pistols’ career was a short one, but the legacy the band has left behind is almost unrivalled. They produced only four singles and one studio album, jumping from record label to record label due to being dropped for their controversial image and music. This version of the 1977 single is worth £8,000.
2. The Quarrymen That’ll Be the Day/In Spite of All the Danger, 1981
The band that eventually evolved into the Beatles, the Quarrymen was formed by John Lennon in Liverpool in 1956, starting with skiffle and moving on to rock ‘n’ roll. In 1958, the group made an amateur recording, performing Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day and In Spite of All the Danger, written by Paul McCartney and George Harrison. In 1981 there was a private reproduction of the 1958 original and only 25 copies exist. This version is worth £10,000.
1. The Quarrymen That’ll Be The Day/In Spite Of All The Danger, 1958
The original version of the aforementioned Quarrymen single, there’s only one copy in existence. Recorded in Percy Phillips’ Liverpool home studio – behind the electrical shop he ran from his front room – the record cost 17 shillings and six pence to make. Today, this copy is worth over £100,000.
Words by Angharad Jones. Image property of thebeatles.com.