Posted by: Laura
Music is one of the few unifying forces in the world that has remained unsullied by the ravages of time (unless you count Justin Bieber of course). Music has the power to move us, change us, bring us together and heal wounds like few other things on earth. So it's only natural that some of us would take our musical obsessions a little too far, deifying our idols to the extent that feeling connected to them amounts to a religious experience. Ok natural might be overstating it, but it is at least understandable. Right?
Memorabilia is a billion dollar business that will continue to thrive as long as there are creative people and as long as there are fans of those creative people. It's a successful industry because people appear to be hardwired to gleam immense satisfaction from collecting things. But aside from the tour shirts, the posters and the pinball machines (I'm looking at you Kiss), is there really much more out there? You'd be surprised. Surprised not just at what's out there, but what people are willing to pay for it.
For a self-proclaimed “Super fan,” the holy grail of musical memorabilia is anything owned, used or even touched by the greatness that is their chosen idol, and there is a massive fringe market in such trinkets. Studies have shown that some fans covet these items because they think by owning something that once belonged to their idol, they will somehow 'absorb' their greatness, like talent is somehow contagious. A team of researchers at Yale University, for example, found that a jumper owned by a celebrity (who wasn't named in the study) became far more valuable if it had been worn and not washed. Once the item of clothing has been washed, it was almost as if the celebrity's 'essence' had been washed away. Now, this might seem like something approaching madness, but do we not all aspire to touch greatness? Even second-hand greatness?
Musical memorabilia is popular because it combines our intrinsic love of collecting with our affinity for those we deem somehow 'apart' from the rest of us. To underline just how strong the allure of these bizarre and undeniably unique items is, we've compiled a list of the five oddest and strangest trinkets ever sold. Be warned. For some of them, you might need a strong stomach.
John Lennon's Tooth
Whilst the idea that anybody would aspire to own a celebrity body part is strange enough in itself, what makes this one even odder is that the former Beatle's tooth was actually a gift! John Lennon actually gifted this used molar to his housekeeper Dot Jarlett, who was (presumably) after a tip. Lennon apparently knew the housekeeper's daughter was a Beatles fan, so it wasn't that creepy, but still, I'm sure she'd have preferred a fiver? Or maybe not. Jarlett's daughter kept the tooth safe throughout the ensuing decades and it recently sold at auction for a staggering $31,000, double the auctioneers asking price. The bidder was apparently a dentist (and presumably a Beatles fan) from Canada. As morbid as it might be, I can see why such an item claimed such a price. John Lennon has (sadly) not been with us for over 30 years now, and his music and his legacy is one of the greatest in all of music. So when you really thing about it, owning a (literal) piece of John Lennon is pretty awesome. Let's just hope the dentist doesn't attempt any bizarre voodoo rituals with it.
Elvis Presley's Hair and Pills
When 'The King' passed away it left a hole in many music fan's hearts. A hole that one fan apparently plugged with a lock of their idols pitch-black mane. In 2002 at an auction in Chicago, a lock of his hair sold for a gargantuan $115,000, which isn't actually that surprising, given that Elvis is one of the most bankable music stars when it comes to obscure memorabilia. Indeed an empty bottle of pills prescribed to Elvis Presley recently went under the hammer at a Las Vegas auction, bringing in $800! It's worth noting that the prescription in this case was for 'Benadryl', an antihistamine that has a sedative effect, so has been used for recreational purposes. The fan who purchased this item obviously knew Elvis was a flawed individual, which to some fans only deepens the appeal.
No, Gizmo didn't have a dodgy ticker, we're referring here to the Scottish post-rock band, whose drummer, Martin Bulloch, went under the knife in 2007 to have a new pacemaker fitted. His old one was auctioned off for charity. The beneficiaries? Why the British Heart Foundation, of course! Though this might sound a little macabre, it was for a good cause and goes to show that you don't have to be a multi-million selling superstar for your junk to matter to someone. Of course, the band also included backstage passes to their upcoming shows, as well as an array of assorted goodies, but that's because (I like to think anyway) they're just genuinely nice blokes.
Michael Jackson's Underwear
There are few fans more obsessed than the fans of the king of pop. In my opinion though, this one is far too creepy. Owning a piece of celebrity underwear would be pretty salacious at the best of times, but the fact that this particular pair were ones seized during the singer's infamous molestation trail makes the very idea of anyone forking out (brace yourselves) $1 million on the thing is quite sickening. It can't be denied that there is something fascinating about Michael Jackson, even more so now that he has shuffled off this mortal coil. A stringently private man who spent his entire life in the media spotlight, it's no wonder that he grew into the confused, child-like man who simply couldn't blend into the world around him. Thankfully, in this case the underwear didn't reach the million dollar reserve. But the very fact that there were legitimate bids shows just how far Jackson's fans were willing to go to cling on to a disturbing keepsake from their idol's dark past.
William Shatner's Kidney Stone
Whilst he might be more famous for his acting roles (particular as Captain Kirk in Star Trek) than for his music, this one was just too good (and too bizarre) not to mention. In 2006, Shatner passed a kidney stone, which was then sold to online auctioneers GoldenPalace for a staggering $25,000. GoldenPalace specialise in collecting oddities, and Shatner's horrendous stone no doubt sits proudly on their virtual mantlepiece.