One of the world’s rarest records has resurfaced — several vinyl copies of Prince’s “Black Album,” which the eccentric pop legend had demanded destroyed 30 years ago.
A collector’s site owned by a former executive on Prince’s Warner Brothers label, on Wednesday was selling a coveted sealed vinyl copy of the album for $15,000.
Prince ordered the entire run of the 1987 LP destroyed, and virtually no copies survived. Now, after a surprise discovery, three are up for sale
The “Purple Rain” star, then at the height of his fame, in December 1987 sought to release music like no one had attempted before — sending it to stores completely secretly, without his name or any art on it.
“It is easily one of the rarest records in the world,” says Jeff Gold, a former Warner Bros. Executive Vice President who now runs the music memorabilia store Record Mecca, “if not the rarest.”
It turned out the man’s daughter recently bought her first turntable and asked him to send her some records. He looked through some boxes that had been in a closet for 25 years and came across two sealed Warner Bros. mailers. Inside were five copies of Prince’s Black Album in pristine condition. (ROLLING STONE)
The former executive decided to sell three copies. Gold was offering one copy online, saying he already sold another one directly and would list the third one later.
Gold said he would attach certificates of authenticity.
Prince in late 1994 finally released the “Black Album” on limited-edition CDs and cassettes but not vinyl, making the record a holy grail for record collectors.
Prince resented Warner’s constraints and in the 1990s changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in hopes of getting out of contractual conditions.
The Story of The Black Album
Prince desire to rush release an album in December 1987 aroused much controversy at his label, Warner Bros. Records. Traditionally labels didn’t release records in December, when it was near impossible to get attention for a new release. Additionally, Prince wanted it to be a surprise release, with no advertising, marketing, or even a single released to let people know he had a new album coming. But most controversial was Prince’s insistence that his name be found nowhere on the album, and his refusal to give the record a title. And he wanted to release his album an all black album cover, with no writing. At the time, there was no precedent for a surprise release by a major artist, nor one without an artist’s name or a title on the cover.
While this gave the company great pause, Prince had major clout as a superstar artist, and so the album (which didn’t have an official title, but was dubbed The Black Album because of its all black cover) was added to the release schedule. It was explained to Prince that the album at the very least needed to have the catalog number on it, so he agreed to have that alone printed on the cover—just 1-25677 printed in orange ink on the spine. Warner’s further explained the album absolutely needed a bar code and a parental advisory warning, or retailers wouldn’t stock it. As a compromise, two stickers were added over the shrink wrap–an “Explicit Lyrics/Parental Advisory” sticker on the front and a bar code sticker with copyright information on the back cover. And that was it. (RECORDMECCA)