Art/Auctions logo

Rock and Pop Memorabilia Auction at Christies

Properties From The Personal Archives of Suzie Rotollo & The Collection of Neville Garrick


2 PM, December 4, 2006

Viewing December 1 & 2, 10-5; Sunday December 3, 1-5.

Sale 1730

Jimi Hendrix guitar

Lot 58, Jimi Hendrix guitar, photographed at the Hard Rock Cafe by Michele Leight

By Michele Leight

On December 4th, 2006, Christie's will offer the personal memorabilia of Paul McCartney, John Lenon, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Jim Morrison and other rock and popular music legends, including posters of seminal musical events like Woodstock, and the trumpet given by jazz legend Miles Davis to Ray Robinson II, son of boxing superstar Sugar Ray Robinson. Highlights include Lot 164, Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for "Maxwells' Silver Hammer," which has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, and Jimi Hendrix's guitar.

All items will be on view from December 1-3, 2006 at Christies, Rockefeller Center, New York.

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" lyrics

Lot 164, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" lyrics, hand-written by Paul McCartney, 1968

It was amazing to see the lyrics of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," the famous Beatles song penned in Paul McCartney's own handwriting on Apple stationery, laying in a protective sleeve not far from Hendrix's guitar at the press preview:

"Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home

Late nights all alone with a test tube

Oh, oh, oh oh........."

These were humble beginnings, but what a song it turned out to be, appearing on one of the most famous rock and pop albums of all time - "Abbey Road" - with four long-haired Beatles featured on the album cover, walking along a zebra crossing in North London, near Apple's recording studios. Long before computers and photo-copy machines, songs and even books were written by hand - even by a famous Beatle. The Beatles changed the way we think about music, and today they are as well known as presidents and heads of state, and their songs are hummed, whistled or sung across the globe.

"Maxwells Silver Hammer" is my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue," said McCartney, "as it so often does, as I was beginning to find out at that time in my life. I wanted something symbolic of that, so to me it was some fictitious character called Maxwell with a silver hammer." The lyrics were written in 1968, and McCartney gave them to Barry Miles, his biographer and a former Apple Records employee. This is an early working version of the composition, the last four lines of the lyrics are omitted and include deletions and alterations to the text as McCartney worked out the songs wording.

McCartney describes his song writing style:

"Some of my songs are based on personal experience, but my style is to veil it. A lot of them are made up, like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," which is the kind of song I would like to write. It's just a silly story about all these people I've never met. The song epitomizes the downfalls of life. Just when everything is going smoothly - 'Bang! Bang! - down comes Maxwells silver hammer and ruins everything."

Paul McCartney's original hand written working lyrics for the Beatles song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a highlight of the Christie's sale, with a pre-sale estimate of $200,000-$300,000. It sold for $192,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. Early McCartney lyrics rarely appear at auction, and this represents a rare opportunity for collectors and fans.

There is probably nothing more influential in anyone's personal history, or memories, as music. For most of us, the music we hear is the backdrop against which we consciously, or unconsciously, record the important milestones and everyday happenings in our lives. Popular tunes and lyrics punctuate some aspect of our existence, reflecting our inner and outer worlds, our longings, dreams, desires, disturbances, loves and losses. Rock and pop icons seem larger than life, but the contents of this sale demonstrate how simply great tunes can be achieved - provided the inspiration and the genius is present. A few sheets of ruled paper, a notebook, their chosen instrument - and away they go!

At the media preview of Christie's upcoming sale, a 1968 Fender Stratocaster guitar with a sunburst finish owned by Jimi Hendrix, Lot 58, shown at the top of this article, was placed in front of a luscious crimson velvet curtain at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, New York, as if waiting for the curtains to part and its owner to emerge and sieze it with his legendary energy and stage presence. Now sculptural and silent, it served as a reminder of how Hendrix totally dominated any stage - even at a time when his peers included some of the greatest bands in popular music history. It evoked intense nostalgia for an entire generation of popular musicians from the Sixties whose photographs adorned the walls of The Hard Rock Cafe - Janis Joplin, Hendrix, The Beatles and many others. Those who have heard Hendrix - as a past or present fan - will not forget the sound of his voice, the way it welled up from a subterranean vat of emotion, lighting up the soundwaves like larvae. When his songs exploded at decibel defying heights, his fingers took over with a genius, improvised guitar solo. The guitar has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $168,000.

Jimi Hendrix mugshot

Lot 56, Toronto Police Department mugshot of Jimi Hendrix, 1969

Left handed, Hendrix was a wizard with guitar strings, and widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. This Fender Stratocaster was modified for Hendrix' left-handed use and has been in the collection of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland since 1996. Other Hendrix memorabilia will also be offered for sale, including a 1969 mug shot, taken by the Toronto Police Department, Lot 56, when he was arrested for drug possession, which has an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000, and it sold for $14,400, a wonderful black leather waistcoat, Lot 52, which has an estimate of $10,000 to$15,000, and it sold for $28,800, and a rare concert poster, Lot 55, from the 1968 Miami Pop Festival, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the forerunner of Woodstock, organized by Michael Lang. Few copies of this poster are known to exist and this lot has an estimate of $1,500 to $2,500. It sold for $10,200.

The image of Bob Dylan and a beautiful young woman holding on to his arm on the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" (1963) was a landmark Sixties rock and pop album, heralding Woodstock and other famous music festivals that spawned the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Cream, Led Zeppelin and many other world famous bands that are household names today - but back then they were emerging young hopefuls like any other. This was Dylan's second album, and like other artifacts at this sale it reflects how simple his beginnings were, yet how far reaching and huge his impact. The young lovers on the album cover are oblivious of the fame that lies ahead - Dylan pensive, apart - with hands dug deep into the pockets of his blue jeans on a chilly winters day. The street that frames them could only be in New York - it is Greenwich Village, a musical mecca that still has many pubs, bars and clubs where many famous singers got their chance at fame.

Bob Dylan 1962 Folk City flyer

Lot 22, 1962 flyer for Bob Dylan performance at Gerdes Folk City

"Not for sale" record of "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"

Lot 24, demonstration record "not for sale" of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," 1963

One of the highlights of the collection, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" is an iconic album cover, Lot 24, a demonstration copy not intended for sale, from the days when records came in 33 rpm, or singles, both gargantuan compared with today's CDs. The lot has an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It sold for $22,800. Four tracks have been deleted - amended in Dylan's own hand with a ball point pen - and what he describes as "finger pointing" songs substituted.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Various theories exist as to Dylan's reasons for changing the four tracks on this album. It has been widely assumed that following Dylan's boycott of the Ed Sullivan show on May 12, 1963 after he had been prevented from performing the political contentious Talkin' John Birch Society Blues, Columbia Records attorneys asked him to revise the track listing accordingly. However, it seems that Dylan felt he'd out-grown the other three songs he changed, apparently he told an old friend at this time:...there's too many old-fashioned sons....,stuff I tried to write like Woody.....I'm going through changes. Need some more finger-pointin' songs in it, 'cause that's where my heads's at right now."

Dylan's personal memorabilia offered at this sale is from the collection of Suzie Rottolo, his first serious love - the girl featured with him on the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan:" Rottolo dated him from when he first began recording with Columbia Records. Dylan describes her with his special gift for words:

"She was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen. Cupid's arrow had whizzed by my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard: meeting her was like stepping into the tales of 1001 Arabian nights. She had a smile that could light up a street full of people and was extremely lively, had a particulat type of voluptuousness. A Rodin scultpure come to life."

One of the greatest singer/songwriter/composer/poets of the 20th century, it is impossible to pidgeon-hole Dylan because he is such an individual. Still going strong in the 21st century - visible on TV winning Grammys, in Apple advertizements, audible on international radio stations, cellphones, IPods or podcasts - his influence on music has been monumental. He was recently the subject of a Scorsese film for PBS, an accolade that is important. Dylan has not missed a beat since he picked up a guitar and will probably go down in history as the greatest rock poet ever, with lyrics that have been as hard-hitting (or 'finger pointing' to use his words) as they have been beautiful. While many of his songs have been used by others to protest wars and promote causes - like "Blowin' In the Wind" and "The Times They Are A Changing" - Dylan side-stepped any direct involvement himself, preferring to confine his "finger pointing" to songwriting. For Dylan fans and collectors, Suzie Rottolo's collection is a treasure trove.

Neville Garrick notebookNeville Garrick notebook

Lot 73, pages from notebook of Neville Garrick, former art director to Bob Marley, with lyrics and set lists, 1974-1981

A notebook, Lot 73, belonging to Neville Garrick, former art director to Bob Marley and the Wailers, with lyrics and set lists in his and Marley's own hand, was also displayed at the preview with a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000. It sold for $72,000.

Garrick vividly describes Marley's composing style:

"When him go and write a song, he pick up a guitar then tell somebody like me that I must write down the lyrics which we think good. And I say to Bob. But I cannot choose...That's kinda too heavy an honor to put on me to decide which line is better. What I'd rather do, I said to Bob, we'll get the tape and we'll tape it and I'll write down everything that you sing. And then we'll go through and choose...Him like it when you participate and when you have an opinion. Him don't like 'Yes people.'"

Garrick describes his role as art director of the band, which included the lighting:

"I feel I colored the music. I colored Bob's music from a visual perspective. What I basically was trying to do with my life was to set a visual interpretation of the mood of where Bob was taking the music......I started thinking about having Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie and African symbols....That was my projection, to add to the whole thing by visually projecting what the music was dealing with by using symbology and with light and stage decor."

The notebook offers insight into the inner workings of staging a world class concert, the camaraderie and hidden support that accompany success, and the creative process of a unique talent - Bob Marley helped catapult Reggae to worldwide fame and a permanent place on the popular music charts.

Miles Davis trumpet

Lot 128, Martin Committee Model, 1957, trumpet, used by Miles Davis

Trumpets have an allure that is hard to describe, even when they are silent. When they are as gorgeous as the 1957 Martin Committee Model , Lot 128, that once belonged to Miles Davis, they are even more irresistible. With a blue-green finish, keys inlaid with mother-of-pearl, a separate mouthpiece, accompanied by a document concerning its provenance, the only thing missing is the genius that once played it. The lot has an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It failed to sell.

The document states that in 1966 the trumpet was given by Miles Davis, a huge boxing fan, to Ray Robinson II, son of the boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson. Davis, a special fan of the boxing superstar, was instrumental in encouraging his retirement after his final fight with Joey Archer in 1965: "Sugar, it's time man" was all he had to say. Robinson retired the next day. This trumpet could only have complemented a man who was not only a jazz legend in his own lifetime, but also extremely handsome. Christie's catalog offers some history:

"The Martin Committee Model was originally designed in the late 1930s for the Martin Band Instrument Company by a "committee" which included brass instrument makers Renold Schilke, Vincent Bach, Elden Benge, and Foster Reynolds. Miles Davis played custom made Committees throughout his career." It is easy to see why.

Miles Davis sketches

Lot 125, five of 25 sketches by Miles Davis, circa 1980

As if being a musical genius was not enough, Miles Davis was also a wonderful artist, and some of his vibrant sketches including a sketchbook with 25 sketches, Lot 125, that has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $6,600.

Madonna blouse

Lot 62, black lace blouse with scalloped edges worn by Madonna as Susan in "Desperately Seeking Susan" in 1985

It is somehow appropriate that Madonna should find herself in this line up of formidable rock talent. It seems like yesterday she was girating around shocking the airwaves on MTV with her extraordinary outfits and crucifix earrings - and she continues to deliver her controversial salvos today, as a pop icon wife and mother. The scalloped-edged, lacy black top she wore in the movie "Desperately Seeking Susan," Lot 62, will go on the block, with a pre-sale estimate of $6,000-$8,000. It sold for $3,600. Working lyrics in Madonna's own hand for her album "Erotica" with a pre-sale estimate of $2,500-$3,500, highlights her controversial status at every stage in her career. Released in 1992, the lyrics of "Erotica" explored sexuality, and it was Madonna's first album to be released with a parental advisory label.

"The American Night," a handwritten poem by Jim Morrison

Lot 16, hand-written poem in Jim Morrison's hand, circa 1970, titled "The American Night

Lot 16 is a hand-written poem written in ballpoint pen circa 1970 by Jim Morrison of The Doors and entitled "The American Night."

Jim Morrison's passion in life was poetry - not music, where he achieved mythical pop idol status. Beautiful and charismatic, Morrison was the lead singer of the Doors, and wrote many of the songs that helped make them famous. He self-published two volumes of his poetry during his lifetime; one of them, "The American Night," hand written by him in ball point pen, was on display at the press preview, a moving reminder of this meteoric talent, the fragility of the creative spirit, and, as with so many creative geniuses, his untimely death by suicide at the height of his popularity and fame. An altered version of this poem was published posthumously in "Wilderness: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrisson Volume 1," by Danny Sugarman. The lot has an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000, and there is also a second poem, "The Fear," from the book, Lot 17, with the same pre-sale estimate. Lot 16 sold for $50,400 and Lot 17 sold for $22,800.

A recording called "American Night" appears on "An American Prayer," but it shares nothing with the poem besides its title. At heart, Morrison was the all-American male, an irrepressible individual and a rebel, and his sound was unforgettable. Lyrically and poetically, "America" was a constant theme in his work.

Danny Sugarman writes in "Wilderness: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison Volume 1:"

"Jim Morrison didn't want to be a god, he wanted to be a poet. Surely no modern poet has written better of alienation and the feelings of isolation, dread and disconnectedness than Jim Morrison....Jim was aware of this modern schism, the sense of dislocation, our angst, and in a self-interview included in 'Wilderness' as a prologue, Morrison himself said, 'If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it's to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.'"

Blinded by the beauty, brightness and wild lifestyle of this rock icon, his poetry was not something the public was ready to take seriously in his lifetime. Danny Sugarman wrote that it was Jim Morrison's dying wish to be taken seriously as a poet; times have changed, his poetry has endured, and to give some idea of his uncompromising genius with words, here is "The American Night:"

When radio dark night

existed and assumed control

and we rocked in its web

consumed by static

stroked with fear


we were drawn down

the distance of long cities

riding home through the open

night alone

launching fever and strange carnage

from the back seat.

front cover of catalogue with picture of Keith Richards

Front cover of catalogue with Lot 93 picture of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones

Keith Richards, the spellbinding lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, is the front cover illustration of the Christie's catalogue. One of two unused proofs - the other is of Mick Jagger - for the front and back cover of the Rolling Stones 1981 album "Tattoo You," the cover design is a black-and-white photograph of Richards with tattoo art hand-tinted with yellow, blue, pink and orange, mounted on a blank album sleeve. It is a stunning example of how memorable and imaginative the album covers were in the days of LPs, when the sheer size of records facilitated more artwork. Richards has artistic tatoos in real life, but these are wildly imaginative. The cover design for "Tattoo You" won Peter Corriston a Grammy for "Best Album Package" in 1982. The estimate for this Lot, Lot 93, is $1,500 to $2,500. It sold for $2,040. Lot 94 has the same photographs overlaid with a red acetate sheet, and an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000. It sold for $2,160.

"William's Special H2" by Zappa

Lot 119, "William's Special H2," abstract oil on card, signed, dated and titled on mount, Frank Zappa, '61, 7 3/4 by 6 inches

There is a wealth of musical memorabilia here that will appeal to all tastes: Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, The Carter Family, Sinatra, Elvis, Cream and a lyrical abstract oil on card, Lot 119, signed and dated "Frank Zappa, '61," with a pre-sale estimate of $5,000-$7,000, to name a few. Lot 119 failed to sell.

The auction has a lot of Beatles material.

Johnandyoko letter

Lot 171, letter from "Johnandyoko" to magazine readers about the political situation in Ireland in 1972

Lot 171 is a hand-written letter from Johnandyoko" and Yoko to the readers of Disc and Music Echo magazine about the political situation in Ireland in 1972. The lot has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $24,000.

"Yellow Submarine" thermos and lunchbox

Lot 160, "Yellow Submarine" thermos and lunchbox, 1968

There is even something for the toddlers in the family: an adorable Beatles "Yellow Submarine" lunchbox and thermos, Lot 160, printed in 1968 with images of characters from the Beatles film. The lot has a modest estimate of $300 to $400. It failed to sell.

Beatles portable record player

Lot 146, a Beatles portable four-speed record player, 1964

For those on a higher budget, Lot 146 is a Beatles portable four-speed record player from 1964. It has an estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. It sold for $7,200.

Inscribed publicity photograph of the Beatles

Lot 138, Nempix publicity picture of the Beatles, with inscriptions, 1964

Lot 138 is a Nempix publicity photograph of the Beatles in typical pose in 1964. Paul McCartney inscribed it "To the worst bass player in the U.S.A.!" a bass player named Dave the Rave by John Lennon who worked with Trini Lopez's band, according to the catalogue, "whilst on tour with the Beatles in Paris. The lot has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $7,200.

The impact of the singer/songwriters of the 20th Century has been enormous. For the first time in music history it was possible to reach a wide and unknown public. Wonderful new inventions like the radio, TV, magnificently staged and taped performances and music players - phonographs, stereos and CDs - became available to millions of listeners and viewers across the globe; then came even newer technologies like music television, (MTV), Walkmans, and now cellphones, IPods and MP3 players.

Globalization offers even greater opportunities to share music, and the same popular songs are heard and hummed universally today, regardless of where they were created. The writers of songs like "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "No Woman, No Cry" could have no idea how far their hand-written words and recorded tunes would travel. Their songs have even gone into space, to soothe astronauts during long spells without human contact.

In the end, the greatest and most successful songs are born of inspiration, often documented in the simplest of ways, hastily jotted down like an artist's sketch as the mood strikes on any available piece of paper or notebook, as many of the contents of this sale demonstrate. Christie's December 4th, 2006 auction should be a great success judging by the examples at the preview at The Hard Rock Cafe, which has a treasure trove of memorabilia of its own on permanent display for rock and pop lovers.

For collectors, generous gift givers or individual enthusiasts who would like to reward themselves, there are enough wonderful artifacts at this sale from a dazzling variety of musical geniuses to light up the holiday season.

Use the Search Box below to quickly look up articles at this site on specific artists, architects, authors, buildings and other subjects


Home Page of The City Review