Music

Elvis Presley’s “Sun Sessions” 1942 Martin D-18 guitar fetches $1.32 million at auction

Elvis Presley’s “Sun Sessions”...
Only ten guitars have ever sold at auction for more than US$1.0 million - Elvis Presley’s 1942 Martin D-18 guitar is one of them
Only ten guitars have ever sold at auction for more than US$1.0 million - Elvis Presley’s 1942 Martin D-18 guitar is one of them
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Only ten guitars have ever sold at auction for more than US$1.0 million - Elvis Presley’s 1942 Martin D-18 guitar is one of them
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Only ten guitars have ever sold at auction for more than US$1.0 million - Elvis Presley’s 1942 Martin D-18 guitar is one of them
Elvis added stick-on metal lettering to this guitar, spelling out "ELVIS." Only the first four letters of the name remain.
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Elvis added stick-on metal lettering to this guitar, spelling out "ELVIS." Only the first four letters of the name remain.
Gottahaverockandroll.com sold Duane Allman's 1957 Goldtop Gibson “Layla” Les Paul Guitar exactly one year ago.
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Gottahaverockandroll.com sold Duane Allman's 1957 Goldtop Gibson “Layla” Les Paul Guitar exactly one year ago.
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Elvis Presley’s 1942 Martin D-18 guitar sold at auction this week for $1.32 million, becoming just the tenth guitar in history to sell for more than $1.0 million and the sixth guitar to sell for more than $1.0 million in the last 14 months. Clearly, the music memorabilia marketplace is red hot right now.

While the pandemic may have decreased the turnover of items going to auction, it is clearly not restricting the prices being paid for important music memorabilia, with an on-line auction at gottahaverockandroll.com this week seeing multiple records broken. The most significant was Elvis Presley’s 1942 Martin D-18 guitar, which he owned from 1954 to 1956.

The guitar was on display at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, until very recently, and is often referred to as The Sun Sessions guitar. This was the period that Elvis recorded at the Sun Studios in Memphis, putting down classics such as Mystery Train, Blue Moon of Kentucky and Good Rockin' Tonight and That's All Right (Mama), the song many believe to be the first Rock and Roll record.

In 2002, the compilation album known as The Sun Sessions was chosen by the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress to be included in its archives because of its importance to the development of American popular music. The album was ranked number 11 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll" included two tracks from the album: Mystery Train and That's All Right

In addition to playing a key role in the history of rock and roll, this guitar was also used regularly on stage by Elvis during this period. It was purchased by Elvis at O.K. Houck's Piano Store in Memphis, with part of the price being made up by trading in his Martin 000-18 model.

Elvis added stick-on metal lettering to this guitar, spelling out "ELVIS." Only the first four letters of the name remain.
Elvis added stick-on metal lettering to this guitar, spelling out "ELVIS." Only the first four letters of the name remain.

Elvis was at the very beginning of his career at the time he used this guitar, and he decorated the body of the guitar with stick-on metal lettering spelling out "ELVIS." Only the first four letters of the name remain to this day, which isn’t surprising given the extensive wear and tear evident to the guitar.

The guitar was sold by gottahaverockandroll.com with extensive documentation, including a photocopy of the receipt from O.K. Houck Piano and photocopies of correspondence from the curator of the Country Music Hall of Fame to a historical note about the guitar.

This guitar was also featured in the "Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from April to October, 2019.

Gottahaverockandroll.com sold Duane Allman's 1957 Goldtop Gibson “Layla” Les Paul Guitar exactly one year ago.
Gottahaverockandroll.com sold Duane Allman's 1957 Goldtop Gibson “Layla” Les Paul Guitar exactly one year ago.

This is the second guitar in the top 10 most valuable guitars of all time that has been sold by gottahaverockandroll.com, which also sold the 1957 Gibson Les Paul used by Duane Allman to record, along with Eric Clapton, the rock anthem Layla. That guitar was also used by Allman in many appearances with the Allman Brothers Band, Derek and the Dominoes, the Layla Sessions, and the albums The Allman Brothers Band and Idlewild South. It sold for $1.25 million at the same gottahaverockandroll.com auction last year.

Other guitars to sell for more than US$1.0 million, are:

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3 comments
Guillermo F. Perez-Argüello
Fantastic article, thje best I have read. readers may also note that Presley's former 1942 Martin D18 and Gilmour's former 1969 Martin D35 are the only actual non mofidied acoustic guitars of those selling over a million. Cobain's 1959 Martin and Lennon's 1962 Gibson had been both modified to allow for them to be plugged into an amplifier.
unusualsuspect
I have a Teisco Del Ray that Hound Dog Taylor once played.
Whatta ya gimme for dat?
unusualsuspect
Where is Michael Bloomfield's Telecaster that he played at Newport when Dylan went electric?
I know that it got butchered by someone who cut away part of it. I saw G.E. Smith's video on the "Guitar That Killed Folk Music" Great video. You can see that the man is passionate about music.
Just wondering who owns it now.