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
of $200,000 to $300,000, and Jimi Hendrix's guitar.
All items will be on view from
2006 at Christies, Rockefeller Center, New York.
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,
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
"Some of my songs are based on
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
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
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
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
At the media preview of
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.
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
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
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
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.
One of the highlights of the
"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
- amended in Dylan's own hand with a ball point pen - and what
he describes as "finger pointing" songs substituted.
The catalogue provides the
"Various theories exist as to
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
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
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.
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
"When him go and write a song,
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
of the band, which included the lighting:
"I feel I colored the music. I
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.
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
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.
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.
It is somehow appropriate that
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
It sold for $3,600. Working lyrics in Madonna's
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.
Lot 16 is a hand-written poem
written in ballpoint
pen circa 1970 by Jim Morrison of The Doors and entitled "The
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
Lot 17, with the same pre-sale estimate. Lot 16 sold for
and Lot 17 sold for $22,800.
A recording called "American
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
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
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
launching fever and strange
from the back seat.
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
overlaid with a red acetate sheet, and an estimate of $2,000 to
$3,000. It sold for $2,160.
There is a wealth of musical
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
Lot 171 is a hand-written
letter from Johnandyoko"
and Yoko to the readers of Disc and Music Echo
about the political situation in Ireland in 1972. The lot has
an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $24,000.
There is even something for the
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.
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.
Lot 138 is a Nempix publicity
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
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
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
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.