NEW YORK (AFP) - Handwritten song lyrics from legendary American singer Bob Dylan sold for US$2 million (S$2.5 million) at auction in New York on Tuesday, the most treasured possession in a trove of rock memorabilia up for sale.
The handwritten copy of Dylan’s original lyrics for the 1965 epic Like A Rolling Stone, which transformed him from a folk musician into a rock icon, had been valued at US$1-2 million by Sotheby’s before the auction.
Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as the greatest of 500 greatest songs of all time, Sotheby’s went so far as to say the lyrics transformed the course of pop music in the 20th century.
“The Holy Grail of rock lyrics has taken its rightful place as the most expensive popular music manuscript sold at auction,” said Mr Richard Austin, head of Tuesday’s sale at Sotheby’s.
“I am thrilled to see so many collectors recognising these lyrics’ importance as a work of 20th century cultural history.” Mr Austin told AFP.
Like A Rolling Stone was the first six-minute single ever released, allowing people to go beyond short format, and it marked one of the first cases of viral marketing.
Executives opposed its release because of its length, but an employee took it to a nightclub where it played all night, leading DJs to clamor for Columbia records to put it out.
Dylan’s final lyrics for protest anthem A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall sold for US$485,000. A John Lennon guitar went for US$305,000, and a peacock jumpsuit worn by Elvis Presley sold for US$245,000.
But a piano, first played by John Lennon when he was recording the album Imagine and valued at US$100,000 to US$200,000, did not meet its reserve price and did not sell.
Mr Austin had told AFP that the auction celebrated various rock performers who have gripped the world for the past 60 years.
The memorabilia was compiled from private collectors over the years and some people who worked for the recording industry.