An A&M pressing of the Sex Pistols’ second single “God Save the Queen,” one of the rarest mass-produced records in the world, sold for nearly $15,000 in November, according to the Discogs.com music database. Just nine copies of the record are known to exist.
The Pistols were at the center of a firestorm of punk-rock controversy in England in 1977, and signed with A&M shortly after being dropped by EMI, which had released their first single, “Anarchy in the U.K.,” in November 1976. EMI parted ways with them in January 1977 after bandmembers cursed on national television (which was far more controversial then than it is today). The group signed with A&M and aimed to release “God Save the Queen” just weeks before the Silver Jubilee, which commemorated the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. They were dropped just days later, purportedly at the insistence of label founder Herb Alpert. The group went on to sign with Richard Branson’s Virgin Records, which had no such qualms and saw their release of the song, which famously featured a picture of the Queen with a safety pin through her face, rise to No. 2 on the British charts, despite being banned by the BBC (or, more likely, partially because of it).
While a reported 25,000 copies of “God Save the Queen” had been pressed, nearly all were destroyed, but a handful had already been mailed to members of the media. One of those nine copies belongs to Atlantic Records co-chairman Craig Kallman, who owns upwards of 750,000 records.
Two copies of another record that was withdrawn before its official release, the 1987 pressing of Prince’s “Black Album,” each sold for $20,000 on the RecordMecca site late last year.