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Rock memorabilia brings big bucks in NYC auction

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Imagine owning Bob Dylan’s original handwritten final-draft of lyrics for “Blowin’ in The Wind,” David Bowie’s stage outfit from his 1987 Glass Spider tour or the iconic original hand-painted awning that hung above the entrance to storied punk and new wave venue CBGB in New York City.

Those were just a few of the dozens of high-end rock-related artifacts that sold on December 10 at Sotheby’s auction headquarters in New York City in an auction titled “A Rock & Roll Anthology: From Folk to Fury.”

The CBGB awning sold for $30,000, the Bowie stage outfit brought in $32,500 and the lyrics for Dylan’s most famous early song went for a staggering $324,500.

The auction featured an array of rock ephemera ranging from self-portrait rock star doodles, mint condition original concert posters and hand-written lyrics and instruments used in the writing or recording of classic rock music. 

A collection of playful and candid black & white photographs of The Band at their upstate New York home nicknamed “Big Pink” in 1968 sold for $7,500. 

Eric Clapton’s handwritten opening lines of “Layla,” scribbled on stationary from the Thunderbird Motel in Miami (where he and the rest of Derek and The Dominoes stayed during the late summer/early fall recording of their sole legendary studio album in 1970), sold for $50,000. A Clapton-drawn sketch of a crying cat, drawn during the “Layla” sessions, was a relative steal at $1,875.

Beatles-related items brought in big bucks including a wool jacket worn by John Lennon during the Austrian skiing sequences depicted in The Beatles’ second film, “Help!” in 1965, sold for $50,000.

A Lennon hand-drawn sketch called “Sketch of Four Characters,” expected to garner $5,000-7,000, sold for $22,500, while a pair of his iconic round wire-rimmed glasses (minus the lenses) sold for $43,750.

A single notebook page signed by each member of The Beatles to the armored car driver who transported them from a helicopter landing pad to Shea Stadium for their Aug. 15, 1965 concert was expected to fetch $4,000-6,000 and ultimately sold for $15,000. 

A small datebook page signed by all three members of The Jimi Hendrix Experience in November 1968 sold for $4,750.

Legend has it that whenever Elvis Presley saw singer Robert Goulet on television, he would whip out his revolver and shoot a hole in the screen. While Elvis’s dislike of Goulet has never been fully explained, one of those sets, a small RCA TV from Graceland (complete with bullet-hole in the screen) sold for $20,000. 

Pete Townshend’s original two-page working manuscript of lyrics for “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” from The Who’s 1969 rock-opera “Tommy,” containing many differences to the finished version, sold for $37,500. 

Not every item up for auction met a minimum bid, including John Lennon’s piano on which he wrote “A Day in The Life,” “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” and other classics. The piano was expected to sell for between $1.2 and 1.8 million.

Jim Morrison’s 100-page notebook, full of his final handwritten notes and thoughts from Paris in 1971, was expected to sell for $180,000-222,000 but went unsold.

The Eagles’ original autographed manuscript of handwritten lyrics for “Hotel California,” expected to fetch between $500,000 and 700,000, also did not sell. 

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