What are the rarest vinyl records?
What Are the Rarest Vinyl Records?
$790,000—that’s how much the rarest vinyl record of all time sold for. Record collectors take their hobby seriously, and they are willing to dish out a lot of money for rare, valuable records in mint condition.
Not every rare record sells for that much, but there are a lot of albums on vinyl that are really hard to find and sell for much more than their initial asking price. It’s hard to only discuss a few of these, but we wanted to tell the stories of some of the most eclectic and valuable vinyl records of all time.
Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list of rare and expensive records. However, we chose records that are only rare and valuable, but that also have compelling stories, too. These are just a few of our favorites–know that there are plenty more where this came from.
Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
Bob Dylan’s second studio album was an instant success. It sold thousands of copies every month for the first year of its release, and critics continue to enjoy the record to this day. In addition, the major-release version of the album isn’t hard to get your hands on.
However, there are a few copies circulating in the market that aren’t like the rest. Four of the songs on the commercial LP were cut right before the album’s release. Somehow, some of those initial pressings of the album still have those four songs, and they are extremely hard to find.
An original copy of the album can sell for close to $35,000 in good condition. The songs missing from the final product were Rocks and Gravel, Let Me Die In My Footsteps, Gamblin’ Willie’s Dead Man’s Hand, and Talkin’ John Birch Blues.
A copy was posted on eBay in 2015 with the seller asking for $100,000. The album is not only a rock classic, but it also cemented itself in history as one of the most prized possessions any vinyl record collector can have.
Prince - The Black Album (1987)
Prince’s “The Black Album” is one of the most elusive records in all of music history. Originally scheduled to release in 1987, Prince canceled the album at the last minute due to an alleged religious experience.
He denounced the record as “evil” and told all of his fans that none of them should listen to it. However, the tracks quickly started to get bootlegged, and people really began to enjoy the record. The record label would eventually be released by Warner Brothers in 1994, but those aren’t the copies that are so rare.
In 1987, before Prince canceled the album, a number of copies were pressed and prepared for release. But when Prince pulled the plug at the last minute, he ordered the label to destroy all copies of the album.
Some of those original promo copies have survived on since 1987 and fetch a hefty price if you happen to find yourself in the possession of one. To date, less than 10 copies have been reported sold, some of them going for close to $50,000.
The album is unlike much of Prince’s other work, but most who have heard it really dig the record. Finding a promo copy of it, though, is nearly impossible, making it one of the rarest albums of all time.
Hank Mobley - Blue Note 1568 (1957)
Few jazz records have ever had the same level of asking price as rare rock and pop records, but this Hank Mobley recording came pretty close.
A self-titled record, it’s typically known to collectors not by its title, but by the catalog number: Blue Note 1568. Mobley recorded the record in 1957, and less than 1,000 copies were produced, making it one of the most collectible LPs from the Blue Note era of jazz music.
Just a few years ago, a copy sold on eBay for more than $10,000. This makes it one of the most valuable and collectible jazz records of all time.
The Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen / No Feeling (1977)
Some of the rarest vinyl records aren’t actually albums, but singles. As in the case of this Sex Pistols record, many unreleased or promo discs for singles become ultra-rare and valuable.
Any pressing of “God Save the Queen” is valuable, but there is specifically an unreleased acetate version of the 7-inch single that fetches a hefty price. The last one to be sold went for just under $20,000 at auction, and it was only one of a slim few examples of the vinyl that have cropped up over the years.
As the story goes, the Sex Pistols were signed to A&M Records in early 1977, but they got let go within the first week due to “bad behavior”—what a way for a punk band to go out.
However, A&M had already created thousands of pressings of the band’s single “God Save the Queen.” The copies that are still intact today are hard to find but are prized among vinyl collectors and punk enthusiasts alike.
In the world of punk vinyl collecting, this is one of the most coveted pieces a collector could get his hands on.
Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
When this album released, it went relatively unnoticed. The Velvet Underground was a different kind of band for their time, and critics were relatively lukewarm on this record initially. However, in time, this would come to be known as one of the most influential albums in rock history.
The album only sold around 30,000 copies, but as Brian Eno, a musician and record producer, famously said in 1982, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”
Andy Warhol designed the album cover—a simple shaded banana. It’s become an iconic symbol of punk music and other sub-genres of rock, even ranking 13th in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list from 2003.
Original pressings of the album are nearly impossible to find due to the low initial sales. But there are also copies of the record printed in 1966 with alternative versions of some tracks. These acetate pressings can sell for upwards of $25,000 in good condition.
You can pick up a copy of The Velvet Underground and Nico from Sound of Vinyl.
Elvis Presley - My Happiness (1953)
This is one of the more unique stories in our list, but this vinyl has not only a large selling price, but a pretty cool story, too.
“My Happiness” was the first song that the King of Rock & Roll recorded at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. It was his first time in a recording studio, and he only paid $4 for the recording in 1953.
Apparently, Presley only recorded the track as a gift for his mother. However, a friend of his got a hold of it and held onto it for years. He passed it on to his niece, and then she offered it up to Graceland for auction many years later.
When it finally did go up for auction in 2015, none other than Jack White picked up the record. Known for his time with The Racounteours, The White Stripes, and his solo work, White paid $300,000 for the record—only to start selling pressings of it through his record label, Third Man Records, for Record Store Day.
The Beatles - The Beatles (White Album) (1968)
It’s not that hard to find a copy of The Beatles’ self-titled record, but specific pressings have sold for incredibly high amounts. Each copy of “The Beatles,” known also as the White Album, was released with a unique serial number stamped on the side of the picture sleeve.
Although there were millions of copies printed, the first set of prints have sold for a lot of money over the years. According to the NME, an original copy owned by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr sold for an astonishing $790,000. He had copy 0000001.
Other early copies have sold in the tens of thousands, but Ringo’s original copy ranks as one of the most expensive first pressings of all time.
The record has been met with consistent critical acclaim over the years, often heralded as one of the band’s best works. The double album features tracks such as “Blackbird,” “Hey Jude,” “Helter Skelter,” and other Beatles classics featuring John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Whether you’re able to get your hands on an early serial number or not, this record is a must-have for any vinyl collector in addition to Please Please Me.
When these rare albums initially released, few people knew they would go on to be the holy grail of the rarest albums of all time. At Sound of Vinyl, we pride ourselves on offering you some of the most unique vinyl records available.
Colored vinyl, exclusive releases, and more are available on our website. We can also send you curated text offers for albums we think you’ll really love to help you grow your collection ranging from David Bowie, to Nirvana, to Led Zeppelin, to the Rolling Stones, to Pink Floyd, and even Bruce Springsteen.
If you’re looking for limited-edition, rare, or exclusive vinyl records for your turntable, there’s no better place to look than here at Sound of Vinyl.