The rarest and most expensive records by 10 major rock bands

Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Queen, the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix
(Image credit: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Junko Kimura/Getty Images/Cyrus Andrews/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

As long as there have been records, there have been record collectors. There are music fans who simply enjoy the look, feel and sound of a physical-format record and then there are the collectors, completists and obsessives who crave the rarer artifacts and are willing to pay a lot of money to secure them.

These are the most expensive albums and singles by 10 major rock bands. We’re only looking at legitimate releases (so no bootlegs) and we’re not considering autographs, which can boost the value of otherwise less sought-after items. It’s also worth mentioning that accurate valuations can be tricky as they tend to go to auction and can fluctuate wildly.  If you do have any of these though, you should definitely give your insurers a quick call…

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The Beatles – The Beatles, first pressing (1968)

The first four numbered copies of The Beatles – commonly known as The White Album – were given to the band members and Ringo Starr sold his (No. 0000001) for $790,000 (£618,000) at auction; the highest price ever paid for a commercially released album. The value drops sharply after the first four but 0000005 still fetched an impressive £19,201 on eBay in 2008. If you’re not one of the Fab Four you might be better off looking for the infamous original ‘butcher cover’ version of Yesterday and Today. One sealed stereo copy sold for $125,000 (£98,000) in 2016.

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin Past, Present and Future (1979)

Led Zeppelin’s limited edition ‘Road Case’ box sets, originally priced at $700 in 2006, routinely fetch $10,000-plus. For a single record though, versions of the band’s eponymous debut album with turquoise rather than orange lettering can sell for thousands but the holiest of holies is probably Led Zeppelin Past, Present and Future - an official promotional album that was never released by Swan Song Records. Only two test pressings and three sleeves are known to exist and while the paired items have previously changed hands for around $6,000, they are likely to be worth considerably more now.

Pink Floyd – Ummagumma, red vinyl Japanese promo (1969)

There are plenty of valuable Pink Floyd rarities out there but some are considerably rarer and more valuable than others. A Chilean version of 1971 album Meddle sold for $12,000 (£9,400) on eBay due to a unique cover, but beat that with an ultra-rare mint red vinyl Japanese promo copy of 1969’s Ummagumma going for $13,953 (£10,900).

Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody, numbered blue vinyl (1978)

Queen sold more than 2.5 million copies of Bohemian Rhapsody in the UK alone, but there were only 200 of this special blue vinyl edition backed with I'm In Love With My Car. They were actually handed out to guests at a luncheon event at Selfridges to mark record label EMI winning a Queen’s Award To Industry For Export Achievement. They also came with merch including etched goblets, an embroidered handkerchief/scarf, a commemorative pen and a box of matches. A copy of the single plus handkerchief sold for £3,300 in 2013 and a full set is probably now valued at £6,000-plus.

Iron Maiden - Twilight Zone/Wrathchild brown vinyl mispress (1981)

Iron Maiden’s ultra-rare Japanese 7” promo of 2 Minutes To Midnight is up there for collectors but it tends to be just edged out by the almost mythical brown version of the Twilight Zone/Wrathchild single. The brown colour was the result of a mix-up in the pressing plant and it’s not even known exactly how many of these are in existence. They’ve tended to trade for a few thousand over the years and in 2020 one sold on eBay for £6,466 – the seller had previously said he would consider ending the auction early for bids in excess of £6,666.66.

Metallica – Kill Em All, test pressing (1983)

One highly sought after piece of Metallica history is the white vinyl version of The Black Album. Only 50 were made and they’ve changed hands for $2,000-plus. Even rarer, though, is the test pressing of debut album Kill Em All, which comes in a plain white sleeve with ‘KEA’ hand-written on one side. There are supposedly fewer than 10 in existence (and perhaps as few as three or four) and they have sold for as much as $6,600 (£5,140).

The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man, picture sleeve (1968)

The late 60s were a turbulent time in the US, and the Rolling Stones tapped into the zeitgeist with Street Fighting Man. The original release featured images of police brutality taken from unidentified demos that were quickly withdrawn by the label as radio stations refused to play the song. According to the Rather Rare Records website, it’s not clear whether the single was ever released to the general public in this format or a small test market. Whatever the truth, it’s incredibly rare and US auction site Heritage sold a copy for $81,250 (£63,300) in 2021.

AC/DC - If You Want Blood You've Got It, Dutch splatter vinyl (1978)

Even if we discount the unofficial cassette copy of the never-released 12 of the Best collection that has sold for more than $10k, it’s still difficult to pick a single AC/DC record that is consistently more expensive than its rivals. Debut single Can I Sit Next To You, Girl with original singer Dave Evans can go for up to £4,000 but the winner seems to be a toss-up between the New Zealand version of the Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 7” and a Dutch ‘splatter version’ of the live album If You Want Blood You've Got It. Both tend to go for around £3-5,000 but we’ll go for the Blood spatter as Popsike reports a peak sale of $9,000 (£7000). Also, it just looks cool.

Guns N’ Roses – Paradise City, test pressing (1987)

They might have made one of the most expensive albums in history in Chinese Democracy but Guns N’ Roses rarities don’t seem to fetch as much as others on this list. At the time of writing there’s a CDr test pressing of Chinese Democracy listed on for $8,000, but it’s the sale price that counts. Both Popsike and list the vinyl test pressing of Paradise City, dated two years before the single’s release, as the highest actual sale – at a still not entirely shabby $2,500 (£1940).

Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold As Love, US mono first pressing (1967)

Although not a record, the reel-to-reel master soundboard tape of the Jimi Hendrix Experience at Woburn Music Festival sold at Christie’s for £48,050. As far as actual releases go, the first pressing of Electric Ladyland with blue print generally outperforms other rarities, hitting up to £2,600. A mono 1st UK pressing of second album Axis: Bold As Love regularly sells for £1,000-plus but a US version was sold via Heritage Auctions for $10,937.50 (£8,500) in 2022.

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer