In 2010 vinyl was the fastest growing music format, and in 2011 US vinyl sales topped 3.6 million units, a 37% gain over the previous year.
The highly collectible records illustrated are all first pressings from the artist’s home country (akin to first edition books.) A mint condition copy of every record illustrated would cost $125,000, if you could find them (and another $40,000. for Jimi Hendrix’s record collection.)
The first widely available pre-recorded music device was the player piano, which played large punched paper rolls; a simplified early version of today’s digital system of ones and zeros.
The first long playing record ever made was an experimental pressing of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sceherazade, pressed February 27, 1946. its inventor came up with the idea while listening to a Mozart symphony; every four or five minutes, the music stopped and another record would drop from the top of the changer to the turntable, and the interruption and changer noise drove him crazy.
Graham Nash first met The Beatles at a talent show in 1959 when they were billed as Johnny and the Moondogs; four years later, before a show where his band The Hollies were opening for The Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney sang him the just-written “Misery”, “one voice in each ear.”
Fewer than 1000 stereo copies were pressed of the Beatles UK debut album Please Please Me with the original black and gold label; copies in excellent condition have sold for more than $5000.
Approximately 20 copies of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, mistakenly pressed to include four otherwise unreleased tracks, have surfaced since it’s release in 1963. A clean copy is worth $10,000.
The Rolling Stones self-titled 1964 UK debut was the first rock album without the band’s name or album title on the front cover.
While John Lennon and Paul McCartney were churning out hits, The Rolling Stones had to be forced into it. Keith Richards said “We never thought of it… (manager) Andrew Oldham locked Mick and me in a room about the size of a kitchen and said “You’ve got a day off, I want to hear a song when you come out.” “He’s got to be joking” we thought.” He wasn’t, and the result was “As Tears Go By.”
Them, with Van Morrison, noted Iggy Pop “really influenced my ideas of what The Stooges could be.” And opening for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention on their second or third show “pushed me to be weirder faster, and also to be stranger to look at…That night I did my first stage dive. I knew The Mothers were on after us and I didn’t want people to forget about us.”
After their debut album flopped, Simon and Garfunkel split up; without their participation, producer Tom Wilson overdubbed electric instruments onto their acoustic track “The Sound of Silence”, turning it into a #1 pop hit.
The Mamas and The Papas debut album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears pictures the band (fully clothed) in the tub in a bathroom; it was pulled from record stores after the toilet also pictured was declared indecent.
At the photo session for Pink Floyd’s debut album, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, photographer Vic Singh “relaxed” the band with several joints, and then shot the group using a prism lens provided by George Harrison.
Janis Joplin and her fellow members of Big Brother and the Holding Company wanted to call their debut album Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills and use a photo of the band naked in bed for the cover. Instead, they ended up with Cheap Thrills and R. Crumb’s iconic illustration.
The extremely controversial UK cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland featured 19 young girls posing nude against a black background. Hendrix claimed “I don’t know anything about it. I don’t decide which pictures will be on my records.”
In addition to the expected Bob Dylan, jazz, blues, soul and rock albums, Jimi Hendrix’s record collection included two Bill Cosby comedy albums as well as Friar Tuck and His Psychedelic Guitar and Cosmic Sounds by The Zodiac.
The album cover for Songs By Leonard Cohen was taken in a coin-operated photo booth; the photo credit reads “Cover Photo By Machine.”
David Bowie’s 1960’s band Buzz played “I’m Waiting For The Man” as the encore at their last gig; it was the first time a Velvet Underground song had been covered by anyone.
On the original UK cover of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World, Bowie wore a “man’s dress” by London designer Mr. Fish. Fearing this would inhibit sales, his US and German labels created their own completely different covers.
The cover photo on Crosby Stills and Nash debut album, showing them seated on a house porch in reverse order, was shot days before the trio adopted it’s official name. When the band and photographer returned days later to retake the shot, the house had been demolished.
On the cover of the Zombies Odessey and Oracle, designer Terry Quirk misspelled the word “odyssey”; at first, the band tried to cover up the mistake by claiming it was intentional.
On the cover of his album Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart is pictured wearing the head of an actual carp over his face.
Kraftwerk’s worldwide hit single, “Autobahn”, was a 22 minute, side-long track, edited to 3:27. It was the only international hit ever on Vertigo Records.
R.E.M.’s Peter Buck moved 60 miles, from Atlanta to Athens, GA., and slept on a friend’s floor for a job at a used record store. It was there he met his future band mates.
The manager of an English Virgin Records shop was arrested for violating the 1899 Indecent Advertising Act, for displaying the Sex Pistols album Never Mind The Bollocks (Bollocks is British slang for testicles). After a trial, he was acquitted.