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Dylan’s ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ Lyrics set record for Popular Music Manuscript at $2M

by Gregory Watkins (06/25/14).

Bob Dylan’s original hand-written lyrics for the 1965 epic “Like A Rolling Stone” fetched $2,045,000 Tuesday night at Sotheby’s to set an auction record for a pop music manuscript.

Bob Dylan’s original hand-written lyrics for the 1965 epic “Like A Rolling Stone” fetched $2,045,000 Tuesday night at Sotheby’s to set an auction record for a pop music manuscript.

And the hits just keep on coming—as far a high-end popular music collectibles are concerned—as Bob Dylan’s original hand-written lyrics for the 1965 epic “Like A Rolling Stone” fetched $2,045,000 Tuesday night at Sotheby’s to set an auction record for a pop music manuscript.

The lyrics, which carried a $1- to $2-million presale estimate, were sold to a private collector. The four-page manuscript was the top lot in the Rock & Roll History: Presley to Punk auction, the first dedicated music history sale at Sotheby’s in more than a decade. Overall, the sale brought $4,088,630 and also included strong prices for material related to Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Joni Mitchell among others.

The “Like a rolling Stone” manuscript was written in pencil on four pages of Hotel Roger Smith Washington letterhead stationery, comprising four long stanzas and the repeated chorus of the song as recorded and released, with edits, corrections and marginal notes of song references, reminders and personal appointments in Dylan’s hand.

“The Holy Grail of rock lyrics has taken its rightful place as the most expensive popular music manuscript sold at auction,” said Richard Austin, head of Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s New York. “’Like A Rolling Stone’ irreversibly changed both the career of Bob Dylan and postwar music history and I am thrilled to see so many collectors recognizing these lyrics importance as a work of 20th-century cultural history.”

Among the other lots garnering six-figure winning bids included: a second autographed Dylan manuscript, this one for the 1962 song “A hard Rain’s A-Gunna Fall,” which netted $485,000; A Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype that belonged to Beatle John Lennon ($305,000); and a peacock jumpsuit owned by Elvis Presley ($245,000). A 1977 Zemaitis acoustic guitar owned by the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood realized $75,000.

A Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype that belonged to Beatle John Lennon sold for $305,000.

A Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype that belonged to Beatle John Lennon sold for $305,000.

A peacock jumpsuit worn in concert by Elvis Presley realized $245,000.

A peacock jumpsuit worn in concert by Elvis Presley realized $245,000.

A 1977 Zemaitis acoustic guitar owned by the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie wood realized $75,000.

A 1977 Zemaitis acoustic guitar owned by the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie wood realized $75,000.

Items related to pop music stars have been logging huge auction prices in the last six months or so, as the handwritten lyrics for Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” sold for $197,000 at Sotheby’s on Dec. 5, 2013. An auction dedicated to Lennon’s original artwork and autographed manuscripts for two books he wrote and illustrated at the height of Beatlemania in 1964 and 1965 realized a total of $2.89 million at Sotheby’s in New York earlier this month.

Last December, Dylan’s 1964 Fender Stratocaster that he played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival—when Dyalan “went electric”—sold for $965,000, including buyer’s premium, setting the highest price any guitar has ever achieved at auction, topping the price received for Eric Clapton’s Strat “Blackie,” which sold for $959,500 in 2004.


Gregory Watkins is the editor of WorthPoint.com You can email him at greg.watkins@worthpoint.com

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