The Rolling Stones at Altamont and a young Elvis steal the show at Heritage

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The Rolling Stones at Altamont and a young Elvis steal the show at Heritage
The Rolling Stones 1969 Livermore, CA Altamont Festival Speedway Concert Poster.

DALLAS, TX.- Over three days and more than 500 lots of deep rock-and-roll history, Heritage broke significant records and realized $2.1 million in its April 11 - 13 Music Memorabilia & Concert Posters Signature ® Auction. The two days dedicated to rare and iconic posters snagged a full $1.8 million of that total, which, for the poster category broke all auction house records.

One of the most fascinating and historically loaded lots in the category also broke all records for a Rolling Stones poster by tens of thousands of dollars, and it was a doozy that can be summed up with one bracing word: Altamont. The elusive and much-discussed event poster, created when the band played that fateful festival at Altamont Speedway in California, brought $93,750. It came from the sweeping collection of music memorabilia collector extraordinaire David Swartz, whose trove has unspooled for a new generation of collectors via Heritage over the last two years. And another breathtaking record, this one for Elvis Presley, happened on Saturday: An original cardboard window card advertising a 1955 Indianapolis concert, headlined by Hank Snow, was the first one produced after the young Elvis signed with RCA; the lot landed a whopping $187,500. On that front, Heritage broke the previous record it had already set for an Elvis poster back in 2018 — in fact this new record more than quadruples it.

“I’ll be honest, I was so excited I lost sleep both nights when our Altamont and then Elvis Indy went for multiples of what we had projected,” says Pete Howard, Heritage's Director of Concert Posters. “These two dark horses, neither of which we’d ever auctioned before, came zooming from the rear of the pack and blew the doors off the place with spectacular finishes.”

The other “in the money” poster in the event was a delightful slice of Beatles history with spectacular provenance: This Beatles 1966 Shea Stadium concert poster comes from the office of the man whose name is printed at the top of it — the famed concert promoter Sid Bernstein, via his right-hand man, Fred Lyman, who treasured the poster for decades. It sold for $137,500. Coming in at a notable fourth place in the poster category was the beloved Grateful Dead 1966 “Skeleton & Roses” Avalon Ballroom concert poster, also known as FD-26 and created by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley, which sold for $81,250.

“Heritage is extremely pleased and humbled to have just concluded the richest concert poster auction in history, at $1.8 million spread over two days,” says Howard. “It points to the continuing growth of this hobby and the appreciation for — and long-run success of — the finest artwork and the biggest legacy musicians in rock history; in this case, the Beatles, the Stones, Elvis and the Dead.”

Posters weren’t the only game in this three-day event. To kick it off, on Thursday, Heritage auctioned a juicy selection of rock memorabilia destined for fabulous collections. A heavily-taped Shure Beta 58A microphone (the industry fave) used and signed by the Who’s Roger Daltrey, from a Hollywood Bowl performance, sold for $22,500. Also going for $22,500: Bruce Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics and annotations for the song “Factory” from the album Darkness On the Edge of Town. The Boss wrote it all out in blue ink on a torn-out sheet of notebook paper.

Back on the Elvis front: A gold, lapis and diamond ring the King owned and wore on his right forefinger sold for $21,250. And what about a Queen? A Christmas card sporting the signatures of Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May, and John Deacon — all four members of Queen — sold for $9,375. And just as surely as Kurt Cobain is rock royalty, an original pressing of Nirvana’s "Love Buzz"/"Big Cheese" Sub Pop vinyl single, produced for the label’s Singles Club, sold for $7,500. Prior to this, the Aberdeen-based trio played around the Pacific Northwest with no official recordings to its name.

“It’s always a source of pride when the whole hobby is buzzing about your results the day after an auction, as it was this weekend,” says Howard. “Heritage continues its trajectory as a leader in the music memorabilia and concert poster categories, and we’ll see you again next round!”

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