The late, legendary BBC DJ John Peel had a one-of-a-kind music collection, and the items from it that were auctioned off by Bonhams in London on Tuesday brought in more than $566,000.
Surprisingly, the Sex Pistols led the charge, with a test pressing of the group’s controversial debut single, “Anarchy in the U.K.,” going for just under $25,000 (£20,400). It had been estimated pre-auction to go for not more than £8000.
Other top-priced albums from the collection — which is a music geek’s dream — included an original 1983 demo cassette recorded from the Smiths in 1983 with a handwritten letter from the band (£17,850), an autographed copy of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s controversial “Two Virgins” album (£15,300), a copy of Queen’s 1973 sophomore album with a personal letter from Freddie Mercury (£16,575), a copy of U2’s rare 1979 “Three” EP with a note written on it by Bono (£14,025), a copy of the rarest known Rolling Stones album signed by all five bandmembers in 1969 (£11,475), a copy of the Beatles’ white album signed by Lennon and Ono (£10,200) and Nirvana’s 1988 debut single “Love Buzz” (£8,925).
Peel was one of the most influential and important people in British music from the 1960s through his death in 2004. He arose in the mid-1960s as the BBC was forced to modernize its programming, and for the next four decades, he played a vital and arguably peerless role in just about every wave of contemporary music, from psychedelia through punk and Britpop and electronic music. His incredible taste is reflected in the list of artists whose careers he supercharged with his many radio shows and “Peel Sessions,” from Pink Floyd through Rod Stewart, T. Rex and David Bowie to countless punk, new wave, shoegaze, grindcore and other artists. While his reputation has been tarnished by allegations of sexual abuse, his influence on popular music is vast and undeniable.