The most important rock and roll artifact ever

Got an extra $850,000 you’re looking to invest? You could be the owner of an album from 1980!

CNN reports that the copy of John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” that he autographed for Mark David Chapman just hours before Chapman gunned him down in front of the Dakota is for sale. The asking price is 850 grand for what New York autograph dealer Gary Zimet is calling “unarguably the most important rock and roll artifact ever.”

I couldn’t disagree more. This is not an important rock and roll artifact, and here’s why: when I first read this story, the first image that popped into my head was not John Lennon…it was Mark David Chapman (a killer so infamous that he has made the “killers so infamous that we use all three of their names” list, better known as the “Lee Harvey Oswald” list). My mind immediately went to the famous photo of Lennon actually autographing the album for Chapman…you see Lennon from the side, and a full, frontal shot of Chapman. It’s a creepy piece of history that ranks right up there with John Wayne Gacy’s clown suit or one of Richard Speck’s phony paintings (a guard at Stateville Prison once told me that Speck’s cellmate did the paintings and Speck signed his name so they would sell for more money, and they would split the cash).

Gee Rick, what would YOU consider the most important rock and roll artifact ever, huh?  I’m so glad you asked!  It’s, of course, impossible to narrow it down to one, and I’m sure many of them are currently on display at the so-called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland (I vow never to darken its doors…don’t even get me started).

Here are a few things that I would consider the most important rock and roll artifact ever:

1-Willie Kizart’s amplifier. “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats is widely regarded as the first rock and roll record ever recorded. Many assume that Ike Turner performed the signature fuzz guitar for the song, but he actually played piano on the session. Willie Kizart was responsible for that incredible sound, purely by accident. While it was long rumored that Kizart’s amp had fallen off the car during the trip to Memphis for the session, Turner later claimed that the amp was in the trunk of the car and had simply gotten wet, which may have caused the fuzzy sound that made history.

2-Elvis Presley’s 000-18 Martin acoustic guitar. Sometime after August, 1954 and before their first performance on the Louisiana Hayride Show in October of 1954 Elvis bought a used Martin 000-18 from Sid Lapworth at O.K. Houck Piano Company in Memphis.  According to Sid he paid $79.50 for it, mostly on time with $5 down and $10 per month. When Sid sold guitars he gave the buyer either a set of strings, some picks or their name in letters.  Often people would apply the letters to the case instead of the guitar itself.  Elvis applied his diagonally across the body of this guitar.

3-Buddy Holly’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster. Buddy borrowed $1000 from his brother, Travis, to finance his stage gear, and Travis was amazed that “$600 went for the guitar alone!”  Buddy used it from the time he started on the road all the way through 1957. Simply put, it instilled the Fender Strat as THE rock and roll guitar.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. If you want to shell out close to a million bucks for something that was briefly owned by some deranged idiot that robbed the world of a great artist, have at it. I’m sure I could find you that clown’s number in New York.

Anything that reminds me of Mark David Chapman is garbage…not a rock and roll artifact.


About groovyrick

I live in a small town in Illinois with my wife and three kids. I am a part-time musician, part-time writer, and full-time dreamer.
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2 Responses to The most important rock and roll artifact ever

  1. Themer says:

    A. I totally agree with you on the so-called artifact.
    2. I don’t know how you do it, but you’re like the Rainman of rock-n-roll. Amazing.
    C. I can’t wait until you get started on the Hall of Fame and why you will never grace its threshold.

  2. I agree as well, both with the album cover and with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. I loved it when the Sex Pistols refused to go to get inducted.

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