click below to visit...
I love collecting letters and documents that help tell the story of popular music, and thought I'd start posting a few of my favorites. I buy this kind of thing whenever I can, keeping those that interest me most, donating the rest to archives that will preserve and share them--most often, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (which is opening their Library and Archives on April 9.) Here are two great ones, both with some insightful Bob Dylan content.
Boy, did she ever get that right. At the time this was written, Janis Joplin was (forgive me) a complete unknown; she didn't move to San Francisco and join Big Brother & The Holding Company for another three years. I can't imagine this wasn't her first trip West. And Dylan's May 18 Monterey spot was his first West Coast appearance; according to Clinton Heylin's excellent "Bob Dylan: Life In Stolen Moments" Dylan drove to Monterey with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman and producer Jim Dickson; performing 3 songs at the Festival; almost surely "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues," "Masters of War" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," then dueting with Joan Baez on "With God On Our Side." Remember, this was 9 days before the release of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." He too was almost completely unknown, and for Reynolds to invoke the genius-word was pretty prescient--and daring, indeed.
While I haven't yet found Gleason's review of the Festival, he later wrote that at first he didn't get Dylan, thinking him a Woody Guthrie wanna-be. But very soon after this was letter was written, Gleason embraced Dylan in a very big and public way, becoming a friend, confidant and very vocal and important early supporter.
The second letter was also written to Ralph Gleason, this one on a "Monday evening" in December, 1965, from an unknown "Donna." She writes in response to Dylan's legendary KQED Press Conference on December 3, 1965. Gleason organized and hosted what became Dylan's first and only televised press conference. It's available on home video and I'm sure online, and is a fascinating glimpse into Dylan's psyche. Donna writes to Gleason with her insightful take on Dylan and the press conference, and rather that excerpting her letter, I suggest reading it. There's an excellent and comprehensive website I can't recommend enough for those interested in the press conference.
While letters and documents such as these might not have a great deal of monetary value, I think they're important in charting the arc of popular music. If anyone reading this has any interesting letters, documents or files they are interesting in parting with (or any rare records or music memorabilia) please do email me.
Just before the end of the year, I was fortunate to purchase an amazing collection of classic Jazz memorabilia and autographs, some of which I'd originally sold years ago--and never thought I'd see again. This post shows off some of the most interesting and unusual items, many of which are for sale at Recordmecca. But beyond the commercial aspect, I thought readers might enjoy seeing some truly rare and amazing artifacts from an era long passed.
To the left is a large poster advertising two November 1962 shows in Stockholm, Sweden by the "classic" John Coltrane Quartet--with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison. These shows were later issued on CD as "The Complete Stockholm Concerts." Coltrane posters are extremely rare, and we can find no other surviving example of this bold beauty.
John Coltrane is probably my favorite jazz artist and the next item is truly extraordinary--Coltrane's own Grammy Nomination plaque awarded to him in 1965 for "Best Original Jazz Composition: A Love Supreme." Coltrane was nominated for only two Grammy's during his lifetime, this one and "Best Jazz Performance: Small Group Or Soloist" the same year. He didn't win either, so this award--owned by Coltrane himself, is as close as he got. The fact that it's for his most important work, "A Love Supreme," and that it was consigned by Coltrane's family to the legendary 2005 Guernsey's Jazz Auction make this as desirable a piece of Coltrane memorabilia as you're ever likely to see. From the same auction, we also here have Coltrane's own Downbeat Reader's Poll Award for 1966 (First Place: Tenor Saxophone.)
Next are some great jazz handbills--first, a truly rare handbill for two performance by Charlie "Bird" Parker at the Open Door, a club in New York's Greenwich Village where jazz writer and Brooklyn College teacher Bob Reisner held a weekend jazz club. These shows took place in early January, 1955--only two months before Parker's death, at age 35. Charlie Parker memorabilia is impossibly rare, and this handbill, while simple, says it all--"The Greatest In Modern Jazz." And along the same lines, another Open Door handbill, this one from 1954 for Thelonious Monk and His All Stars. What a scene that must have been. And finally, a 1966 handbill for the "Titans of the Tenor !" show at New York's Philharmonic Hall, featuring John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins and Zoot Sims on the same bill.
And now some autographs. First, a framed Charlie Parker "cut" (a small piece of paper with a signature,) framed with a famous William Gottlieb photograph of Bird (also signed.) As you might imagine, an authentic Bird autograph is the rarest and most sought after signature in jazz.
And here are the very rare autographs of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, both signed on photographs (making them all the more desirable,) and a later signed Miles Davis postcard. All highly collectible, and rare (at least authentic ones are.)
Here's a great framed Sun Ra handbill with the autographs of his Arkestra (more signatures than appear on the typed legend.) Sun Ra is a scarce signature, but this is the only set of Arkestra autographs we've seen.
And finally, here are two handwritten John Coltrane musical manuscripts, from the hand of the great man himself. These were also sold by his family at the Guernseys 2005 Jazz Auction, so in addition to being rare, they have unbeatable provenance.
While our main focus is on rock, blues, soul, and folk memorabilia and records, we're very proud to be able to offer these special Jazz collectibles at Recordmecca . And as always, we're looking for high end music collectibles and rare records--so let us know if you have anything to sell.