A rare Sex Pistols 7-inch vinyl record became the most expensive single ever sold on Discogs, the most prominent online marketplace for music rarities. A “God Save The Queen” single on the A&M label, from a batch that was supposed to have been destroyed after the group left the label, sold for $15,882 in November 2018.
Previously, the highest-valued single sold on Discogs was the Beatles’ “Love Me Do,” which was bought for $14,757 in March 2018.
While the “God Save the Queen” sale set a new bar for 7-inch singles on Discogs, the high mark for any record sold on the site remains the $27,500 paid for an original copy of Prince’s “The Black Album” in June 2018. That album, like the Sex Pistols’ single, was rescued from a printing that was ordered to be completely destroyed before reaching stores.
While new sales records are set on Discogs every year, these amounts still pale in comparison to some of the money paid out in live auctions — like the $300,000 spent in 2015 on an Elvis Presley test recording from 1953 by an anonymous bidder who turned out to be Jack White.
The Sex Pistols originally signed to A&M Records in 1977. After an intoxicated altercation in the record label’s offices following the signing, the English punk band’s contract was reportedly shredded after only six days. A&M Records had pressed 25,000 copies of “God Save The Queen” in May 1977, but today only nine copies are believed to exist. For that reason, it is considered one of the rarest rock records of all time.
Originally comprised of lead vocalist Johnny Rotten, drummer Paul Cook, guitarist Steve Jones and bassist Glen Matlock, the band replaced Matlock with the controversial Sid Vicious in early 1977. Before their breakup in January 1978, the band only released four singles and one album, “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.” The single “God Save The Queen” attacked citizens’ devotion to the English monarch and social conformity. In February 2006, the Sex Pistols were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but the musicians refused to attend the initiation.
Here are five other musical releases that fetched top dollar.
1. “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” by Wu-Tang Clan
The most expensive album ever sold is Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” which was bought for $2 million in 2016 by now-imprisoned pharmaceutical businessman Martin Shkreli. Only a single copy of “Shaolin” exists. (A supposed stipulation allowing the Wu-Tang Clan and/or Bill Murray to steal back the record in a heist turned out to be a joke.)
2. “My Happiness” by Elvis Presley
Jack White bought the acetate of Elvis’ first-ever recording from 1948 at an auction in December 2015 for $300,000. He later re-released it through his record label Third Man with all the original scratches and pops and a brown paper bag as the sleeve.
3. “Til There Was You” by The Beatles
The 10-inch acetate disc featured 1963 singles “Til There Was You” and “Hello Little Girl,” but a misspelling read “Hullo Little Girl.” The record was found in an attic in Liverpool and later sold for $98,648.
4. “Alcohol and Jake Blues” by Tommy Johnson
The 75-rpm blues record from 1930 by legend Tommy Johnson was bought at an auction in 2013 for $37,100. The buyer already owned a copy of it, but was hoping that this record was in better condition.
5. “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” by Frank Wilson
The 1965 single by American soul artist Frank Wilson was only pressed in a quantity of 250 copies, and reportedly only five still exist today. This rare copy sold for $32,766 at an auction in May 2009.