Calling all car and rock and roll enthusiasts: Janis Joplin’s famous Porsche will be auctioned off in December. After 20 years in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the famous crooner’s 1965 Porsche 356C 1600 will be going to an auction block. The car was bought back in 1968 and was later given a “trippy” paint job by Dave Richards, her band’s roadie. It will be sold at Sotheby’s Driven by Disruption exhibition and auction in New York City. The famous convertible is currently held by Joplin’s family, who remodeled it in the 1990s before loaning it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Joplin’s sister told Reuters that Janis drove the car all around San Francisco and Los Angeles, saying, “wherever Janis went in the car, her fans recognized it. When she parked it and returned, there was always at least one note under the wipers.” Sotheby’s estimates that the winning bid will be around $400,000, which, according to the Hagerty Price Guide, is about two to four times more than the automobile should be worth without its special history.
To commemorate this psychedelic occasion, here are the most famous (and expensive) pieces of Rock memorabilia in history.
Grateful Dead fans—dubbed “dead heads”—are probably the most devoted group of fans in the world, so it makes sense that one of them would fork over $957,000 for one of his old guitars. The buyer was Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay. Jerry Garcia had the guitar made by Doug Irwin to fit his unique specifications, making it incredibly heavy. The infamous jam band guitarist and ice cream icon named it “Tiger,” and it was his main instrument from 1979 to 1989.
In 2004, Blackie was auctioned off at Christie’s for $959,000. Clapton used the famous black stratocaster to write and record hits like “Cocaine,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” and “Wonderful Tonight.” Blackie was Eric’s go-to instrument from 1975 to 1985.
John Lennon was probably the Beatles’ most famous member, so it’s no wonder that his memorabilia fetches the highest prices. The candid handwritten letter containing his notes for “All You Need is Love” was sold at a Beatles’ memorabilia auction at Cooper Owen in 2005, which broke the world record for the most money ever paid for pop music memorabilia. Then in 2010, John Lennon’s letter for “A Day In The Life” sold for $1,200,000 in a Sotheby’s auction. The song is considered one of the Beatles’ best—and it was the last collaborative project from Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The note is double-sided and written with a ballpoint pen.
One of the most memorable performances at Woodstock was played by Jimi Hendrix on a cream-colored Fender Stratocaster. The instrument was purchased by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2012 for an astonishing $2,000,000 at Sotheby’s. Many of Hendrix’s guitars met their ends during his performances—not only did this one survive, Hendrix played it during his last set in 1970. After his death, the guitar was willed to Hendrix’s drummer, Mitch Mitchell. It was put up for sale in 1990, then again 22 years later, at which point it was obtained by Allen.
Back in 2014, Bob Dylan’s lyrics to “Like A Rolling Stone” broke the world record for the most expensive selling price of any pop music manuscript. The letter includes a few lyrics that were not included in the final recording of the song. Rolling Stone magazine called “Like A Rolling Stone” the “greatest song of all time” in 2014, which we feel is unsurprising, given the origins of the publication’s name.
British pop star and Wham! frontrunner, George Michael, bought John Lennon’s Steinway piano at an auction for $2,100,000 in 2000. The instrument was bought in 1970 for John and Yoko’s living room. Lennon used the piano to write “Imagine,” and it was played in the first performance of the song. Michael’s reasoning for purchasing the piano was patriotism—he considered it a pivotal piece of British history and wanted it to stay within England. Many citizens of the United Kingdom were very fearful that an American would buy the piano, since there were more American bidders than English bidders in that particular auction.
John Lennon makes the list yet again with his Rolls Royce Phantom V. He bought the car back in 1965. It was originally black, but Lennon had it customized in 1967 for a more “colorful” appearance, similar to the way Joplin customized her Porsche. The Rolls Royce was shown in the music video for the song “Magical Mystery Tour,” and The Beatles often rode in the car while in London. Lennon would frequently rent it out to famous rock and roll musicians at the time—artists who drove in Lennon’s Phantom V include The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and The Moody Blues. In 1985, the car was auctioned off for $2,300,000. It is estimated that if the car were sold again today, it would fetch a price tag of over $20,000,000.
This famous Fender Stratocaster is the priciest guitar ever sold in history. When the deadly tsunamis hit Southeast Asia in 2004, Canadian rockstar Bryan Adams started a campaign to raise money for the disaster by auctioning off the instrument. The white guitar is signed by 19 rock legends: Adams, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Brian May, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Mark Knofler, Angus and Malcolm Young, Sting, and Paul McCartney. Her Highness Sheihka Miyyassah Al Thani, heiress to the Qatar throne, bought the guitar for $2,700,000. We guess that’s one way to start an autograph book!
What’s the most you would pay for something owned by a famous musician?