This article takes a look at rare vinyl records that are worth a fortune today.
If you’ve been collecting records for a while, you know that it can seem like a full-time job – and it can pay like one too.
Most of the entries on this list are from the 60s and 70s but there are a few surprises that might catch you off guard.
Let’s get stuck in and learn about the rarest vinyl records on the market.
30. The Stranglers – Peaches – Go, Buddy, Go (1977)
The Stranglers’ ‘Peaches’ exhibits one of the greatest basslines of the 70s and paired it with suggestive yet fun lyrics – it was a huge hit.
Usually, this double A-side dons a plain black sleeve accompanied by the fruit in question. However, the initial sleeve was green and showed a photograph of the band with ransom note-esque cut outs of the letters.
After deciding it was too similar to the Sex Pistols brand, the band withdrew. An estimated fifty copies had been released as promotional items and are now considered one the rarest vinyl records of that era.
One of these valuable originals may grant you a healthy $1,800!
29. Motörhead – Motörhead (1977)
Motörhead are known for influencing numerous musical stylings such as thrash and speed metal. Despite protests from the band that they were rock and roll, many consider them within the realms of heavy metal and even punk.
Motörhead’s debut self-titled album failed to make any major waves commercially but found a comfortable place amongst punk fans. The first thousand pressing of the album featured the current cover with the addition of a small swastika on one of the creatures’ horns.
The Nazi imagery has obviously deterred many record collectors – however, the value of the original sleeve and vinyl goes for around £2,000 – four times the album’s recording budget.
28. Bruce Springsteen – Sherry Darling/Independence Day (1981)
Bruce Springsteen’s fifth studio album The River on which both these tracks reside went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape Chart, remaining there for four weeks.
Sherry Darling/Independence Day was a promotional release featuring ‘Independence Day’ as the original B-side. When the record was officially released in February of 1981, ‘Independence Day’ was removed and replaced with ‘Be True.’
Only a handful of copies are known to exist with the finished picture sleeve crediting ‘Independence Day’ as the B-side. The original promo release of this rare vinyl record has a value of around $2,500.
27. Morrissey – November The Second (1990)
Morrissey is, without a doubt, an artist who knows what he likes. From his outrageous political opinions to his musical craft, I can’t imagine that the singer-songwriter does anything without thinking about his image first.
That’s why when a dance remix of his 1990 single ‘November Spawned A Monster’ started circulating, the former Smiths’ frontman was not impressed. The style of the song juxtaposes the Smiths entirely, much to Morrissey’s horror who soon objected to the use of the track.
The estimated value of $3,000 is an educated guess as these rare records haven’t changed hands much so who knows – maybe you’ve got one?
26. Madonna – Erotica (1992)
Ah, Madonna. An artist that has always pushed the boundaries and danced on the proverbial lines of what is acceptable.
Let’s go back to the 1990s when the artist was really playing with fire – talking about female fantasies! Madonna knew how to tap into what made people gasp and Erotica was no different. The singer briefly released the 1992 album featuring an image of herself engaging in the fetish of the time – feet.
As chance would have it, the Duchess Of York, Fergie, was caught dining on a similar dish. Not wanting to offend the royals, the record was recalled but, as always, some escaped.
Less than one hundred and fifty copies of this rare vinyl record are said to exist and will snag you a generous $3,700.
25. Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is an iconic audiophile record that showcased both pioneering production and songwriting.
The record also dons one of the all-time most legendary pieces of cover artwork too.
There have been many pressings of this famous record, and most of them are not considered to be especially valuable. However, the first ever UK pressing is a little different.
The rare first UK pressings of Dark Side of the Moon feature a solid blue triangle on the record itself, instead of the transparent triangle that appears on all other pressings.
If you happen to own a copy of this record in mint condition, and were willing to part with it, you could be in for a payday to the sum of $3,000 to $4,000.
24. Depeche Mode – Music For The Masses (1990)
Music For The Masses is a successful album for 80s band Depeche Mode. With the record going Platinum in the US and Silver in the UK, it is certainly not a hidden gem.
In 1990, there was a budget reissue of the LP with a new sleeve design. This sleeve featured an orange and white design of a megaphone emitting sound waves and was, allegedly, rejected by the band themselves.
There are rumours that the megaphone was the intended original sleeve design, not for the reissue. Either way, there are just 12 copies, valued at around $5,000, making it one of the rarest vinyl pressings in the world.
23. John’s Children – Midsummer Night’s Scene/Sara Crazy Child (1967)
Glam rock pioneer Marc Bolan is, of course, best known for being the frontman of the psychedelic folk band T. Rex. However, before the glory days, Bolan was part of mod rock 60s band John’s Children.
John’s Children reached very little success commercially and were active for less than two years. Though underappreciated at the time, their music has gained new respect amongst glam rock fans and their records have become highly collectable.
After a third failed single, Midsummer Night’s Scene was the intended follow-up but was withdrawn and now impossible to find. This rare record is valued at around $5,000.
22. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin are considered by many to be the single best rock band in history. With each member’s technical ability paired with their melodic creativity, flashy stage presence, and rock and roll image, they’ve earnt their title.
Although their debut self-titled album has sold countless copies, it’s one of the original pressings from 1969 that rakes in the big bucks. You’ll have to find one with turquoise lettering on the sleeve and a multicoloured label reading “Superhype music” and “Jewel music” below the tracklist.
With rarity comes fraud, so many pirated copies have found their way online. However, if you do indeed find one of the valuable original copies, you could be looking at a nice sum of $5,500.
21. Joy Division – An Ideal For Living (1978)
It’s not unusual for bands to want to catch the eye of both fans and the press with controversies. However, Joy Division may have taken it too far with their 1978 An Ideal For Living album sleeve.
The original cover featured an image of a member of the Hitler Youth, donning all the characteristics you can imagine, beating a drum. The image was drawn by band member Bernard Sumner and, paired with the font of the band’s name on the sleeve, raised questions on whether the band had Nazi sympathies.
After only one thousand copies were pressed, the band quickly withdrew the album. The estimated value of these are records is around $5,500.
20. Hank Mobley – Hank Mobley Blue Note (1957)
Saxophone player Hank Mobley released his sixth title for New York’s Blue Note Records in 1957 – the self-titled Hank Mobley.
The initial pressing of this jazz vinyl only printed an estimated three hundred to one thousand copies, a tiny number considering the musician’s past with the record label. After Blue Note was bought by Liberty Records in the 60s, still no more were printed.
The first pressings in the collection can be identified by the record company’s address printed on the label. One side reads “NYC” while the other says “New York 23.” Copies of the album with “NYC” printed on both sides sell for just under $5,000 if in mint condition.
19. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody/I’m In Love With My Car (1978)
Back in 1978, record label EMI won a Queen’s Award For Industry for which they held a fancy award ceremony at London’s Selfridges Hotel.
As well as the bash, EMI general manager Paul Watts decided to have a special blue-vinyl edition of Queen’s best-known recording distributed at the event. This limited edition of two hundred was given to guests at the party and likely those high up at the label.
Don’t get too excited though if you’ve managed to get your hands on one of these pressings as the $6,000 price is only available if you also have extras from the event. This includes a goblet, menu cards, boxes of matches, and a pen.
18. The Beatles – Introducing the Beatles (1964)
Record label Vee Jay were sitting on a gold mine with an album’s worth of unreleased Beatles songs. Originally, the label decided not to release the album, but after Capitol released ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ they decided to release it.
They named it ‘Introducing the Beatles’ and put together a cover but failed to add anything on the back. The studio, soon after, started releasing a more put-together album with a back cover included.
The “blank back” copies of this rare Beatles record now sell for upwards of $3,000 – $5,000 depending on whether they are mono or stereo pressings.
17. Röyksopp – Melody AM (2001)
Röyksopp are an electronic music duo from Norway consisting of Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland who formed in 1998.
What makes this record rare is not the musicians but in fact the cover art. The Norwegian duo persuaded infamous street artist Banksy to hand spray a unique pressing of their debut album, Melody AM. The album, released in 2001, was an edition of just one hundred and are hand numbered.
Thanks to Banksy’s global intrigue, the stencilled album covers are selling for exceptional prices, hitting around the $10,000 mark. What a brilliant marketing move for the electronic pair.
16. The Beatles – The Beatles and Frank Ifield On Stage (1964)
Frank Ifield was an English singer who saw minimal success, hitting No. 5 in the US charts with a single in the 60s. Vee Jay, a recording studio, had multiple unreleased music recorded by the Beatles, including Jolly What! The Beatles and Frank Ifield On Stage!, a collaborative work by the four-some and Ifield.
The cover depicted an old man with a moustache and Beatle-esque hair.
Despite Capitol forbidding Vee Jay from releasing any Beatles works, Jolly What! dropped in 1964 and sold terribly. Because of this, the label dropped the “Jolly What!” from the title and changed the cover in an attempt to get more sales.
The valuable second cover version (old man-less), due to a limited run, sells for $5,000 – $10,000!
15. Darrell Banks – Open The Door To Your Heart (1966)
When Darrell Banks’ Northern soul hit ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’ was set to release in the UK (after already being released in the US), a dispute over rights broke out.
This caused the single pressing to be scrapped, despite the row being resolved, making the ones the Brits had got hold of “promotional copies” and the stock copies were believed to not exist.
You could imagine the fire that was lit in the bellies of record collectors when one of these “non-existent” emerged in 2014. So far, this valuable rare vinyl record is believed to be the only known copy in existence and sold for £14,500 (around $18,000).
14. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
After his first album flopped, Bob Dylan released The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan which garnered more attention, reaching No. 22 on the American Billboard album chart.
Just before its release, Dylan requested four songs to be removed and swapped with four others. However, due to how these things normally go, a few pressings were made with the original track list but with the updated list still printed on the back cover.
The original mono copies or this have snagged a generous $12,000 with two known stereo pressings getting $35,000. No one knows exactly how many of these copies exist but it’s highly possible there are more yet to be found.
13. Stonewall – Stonewall (1976)
Let me introduce you to Tiger Lily. Tiger Lily was a record label in the 1970s who are known as a “tax scam” label amongst record collectors. They would cut and release records with no promotion or announcement and wouldn’t pay the artist any royalties. Don’t they sound great?
Enter Stonewall, a band that you probably haven’t heard of, who “worked’ with Tiger Lily to produce their self-titled album. Every record that the company produced has since become collectable to a certain extent with Stonewall as one of the most lucrative.
Their hard-rock album snagged $14,000 on eBay in 2014 and there have only been a handful of copies of this rare vinyl record that have seen the light of day.
12. Prince – The Black Album (1987)
Prince, being the flamboyant diva we all know and love, decided that his 1987 album The Black Album was evil.
The artist was experiencing the high of his iconic Sign O’ The Times album and was riding off the back of that with his next release. However, something switched in his mind and ordered the album to be recalled and all five hundred thousand copies to be destroyed.
Unfortunately – or fortunately – some managed to break free and failed to be fully eradicated. Some were given out to radio stations as promotion copies before the extermination and are now among the rarest records on the market going for $5,000 – $15,000.
11. Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen/No Feelings (1977)
Love them or hate them, Sex Pistols shook the music world with an image and sound that challenged the UK’s political infrastructure and welcomed a feeling of chaos.
God Save The Queen dropped and heads turned. Twenty-five thousand copies were pressed but after being kicked off their label, the records were destroyed. Allegedly nine of the twenty-five thousand made it out alive, making the vinyls incredibly rare.
Despite efforts to suppress Sex Pistols, making punk’s crowning achievement so unobtainable only adds to the appeal.
If you manage to stumble across one of the original recordings, you could be looking and a healthy $12,000 pay-out.
10. The White Stripes – Lafayette Blues (1998)
In the early days of The White Stripes, the band had copies of their single ‘Lafayette Blues’ pressed onto white vinyl.
The band launched the record at the Golden Dollar in Detroit, a local spot where the pair played their first live gig just a year prior to the record’s launch.
However, production issues meant that the record covers were not ready. Rather than postpone the record launch, Jack White and record label manager Dave Buick decided to hand-paint fifteen unique covers.
The records were sold for a mere $6. What a story!
Naturally, these rare gems went down in history, and they have been known to fetch as much as $18,000 at auction.
9. The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico (1966)
Despite the iconic status that this album now commands, The Velvet Underground’s debut album sold poorly.
The recognisable banana cover was in fact printed as a sticker with the words “peel slowly and see” printed above. Of course, many people did, making an unpeeled cover exceptionally rare.
In mint condition and with a fully intact banana, The Velvet Underground & Nico has sold for upwards of $20,000.
Also, a well-kept secret variant of the valuable LP was pressed without the song ‘Sunday Morning’ which normally places at the start of the album. The only copy known sold for $22,000 in 2017!
8. The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man (1968)
‘Street Fighting Man’ was one of several Rolling Stones records that showcased the band’s dissenting nature.
The song, which alludes heavily to protest and revolution, was initially released with a cover image that depicted race riots in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination.
The image proved controversial in the US, and the Stones’ label, London Records, promptly withdrew it.
The rare “US picture sleeve” copies also feature an alternate vocal take, with additional piano on the recording.
In 2022, a copy of this rare vinyl sold for $22,600.
7. David Bowie – The Next Day (2019)
Were you expecting a record from as late as 2019 on this list? I doubt it.
Unicef, a humanitarian aid organisation, released fifty limited edition blue vinyls of David Bowie’s 2013 album The Next Day alongside fifteen other albums as part of an awareness campaign for their Children’s Emergency Fund. You could win by entering a prize draw.
Of course, as soon as the lucky winners got their hands on the rare records, the open market went wild with multiple copies being resold. The most money that one of these pressings went for is an astonishing £35,000 ($43,000). The power of charity!
6. The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)
The Beatles’ first album Please Please Me was originally only pressed in mono. A mono record is a vinyl pressing that sounds as though all sounds are coming from a single source. Later, stereo pressings were released only to flop as many did not own stereo phonographs.
As many of the later versions didn’t sell, they’ve become incredibly rare and among the world’s most valuable records. While the mono copies are much more common and sell more frequently, it’s the stereo pressings that are much harder to find. In 2014, a stereo copy sold for just shy of $15,000!
5. The Beatles – Yesterday and Today (1966)
The withdrawn pressings of the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today featured the infamous “butcher” cover which sees the foursome donned in cuts of meat and dismembered doll parts. (Not sure what they were going for with that.)
Shops restocked the album with new – and improved? – covers after the response to the original was less than favourable. The “first state” covers are where the money lies with an estimated less than ten copies floating around – a sealed copy sold for $125,000 in 2016!
Unsealed copies of the valuable butcher cover can snag you a nice $15,000, so don’t be disheartened if you opened yours in a hurry to play.
4. Elvis – My Happiness (1953)
It all started here. Elvis Presley’s song ‘My Happiness’ was the first he ever recorded, at the tender age of 18.
Recorded as Sun Records in Memphis, and released as a 78 RPM, Elvis laid down the song, along with B-side ‘That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.’ He allegedly paid $4 to Sun Records for studio time.
The songs take on a poignant meaning when viewed within the somewhat tragic story of Elvis’ life. But even more importantly, they mark the beginnings of one of the world’s most influential musicians of all time.
In January 2015, a rare copy of this coveted Elvis record was purchased by an anonymous buyer for $240,000. It was later revealed that the buyer was the White Stripes’ Jack White.
3. The Quarrymen – That’ll Be The Day/In Spite Of All The Danger (1958)
Before the Beatles were formed, the talented ensemble, minus Ringo, were known as the Quarrymen, a five-piece folk band.
In 1958, the group headed to the recording studio to produce what was effectively the first ever Beatles song as the B-side to a Buddy Holly cover. The one-off acetate ended up with John “Duff” Lowe, the band’s pianist, although rumour has it it’s now in the hands of McCartney who produced around fifty copies.
Whether one or fifty exist, your chances are very slim of getting your hands on this rare record. However, if you do, count your blessings as it is estimated to be worth $250,000. Bargain!
2. The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album) (1968)
From the eyeball overload of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the very definition of minimalist, The Beatles (also known as The White Album) created a numbering system on the album to create an illusion of rarity.
Low-ranking numbers were given to members of the band and to those who were high enough up the food chain to deem worthy of such an honour.
These low-numbered albums are worth big bucks with Ringo Star’s personal copy – number 0000001 – snatching over half a million making it the most expensive record ever sold. Knocking around with the Beatles certainly had you set for life.
1. Wu-Tang Clan – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin (2015)
There is just one copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon A Time in Shaolin in existence, and few have ever heard it.
Recorded in secret over several years, a CD copy of the album was pressed to vinyl in 2014. The record was stored in a vault at the Royal Mansour Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, until it was first purchased in 2015 for £2 million.
However, the record was seized from its owner Martin Shkreli, after he was convicted of fraud.
In 2021, the vinyl was eventually auctioned once again, and was acquired by cryptocurrency collective PleasrDAQ for $4 million.
Wu-Tang Clan’s decision to release just a single copy of the record was an act of protest against the devaluation of music by record companies and the music industry more broadly.
Thanks to a legal agreement, the contents of the record cannot be released commercially until the year 2103.
Are your old records worth money?
At Discogs, you can get a rough idea of the market value of hundreds of thousands of vinyl records, as long as you have your record’s catalogue number.
If you want a second, third, or fourth opinion, head over to your local record stores. It’s best to speak to a couple of experts to make sure you’re getting a fair price for your records.
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