Metal the next big thing in rock auctions

Goldmine Magazine
By Susan Sliwicki

Al Jourgensen's Buck Satan
Backstage Auctions is betting on the universal appeal of metal music and memorabilia among fans worldwide for its next auction. The Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction preview runs Oct. 24-30; the auction runs Oct. 31 to Nov. 6. 

“Heavy metal is a lifestyle, and it shows in everything; it shows in the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the haircut you have, the concerts you go to, the music you listen to, the friends that you have,” Jacques van Gool of Backstage Auctions said. 

When it comes to business, make no mistake. Van Gool has done his homework. Just because metal music has never really seen the light of day in the mainstream media doesn’t mean it lacks a following. Van Gool cited the massive number of Web sites and magazines dedicated to heavy metal worldwide, as well as a plethora of heavy-metal festivals and legions of incredibly loyal fans who follow their favorite acts on social media platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. 

“You have to go a little bit underground for this. I don’t see Fox News or CNN wasting their time saying Al Jourgensen of Ministry is going to put 100 items in a heavy metal auction, because they wouldn’t know what to do with that kind of news. But at the same time, the official Ministry database has 250,000 registered users, so, I’m going to forget about the Foxes and CNNs of the world. All that matters is that 250,000 Ministry fans know about it.” 

The market for heavy metal memorabilia is probably healthier than that of any other musical genre, he added. 

“Metal just doesn’t go away. It doesn’t die. Fans won’t allow it,” van Gool said. “The market for memorabilia from bands that are considered part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Motorhead, remains strong worldwide, van Gool said. 

In the past five years, van Gool has noticed younger metal fans expressing interest in the second- and third-tier bands of the NWOBHM that may sound obscure to non-metal fans. 
“From a collectible point of view, the original vinyl of these bands demands incredible, incredible amounts of dollars,” van Gool said. 

He cited original 7-inch records from Neat Records as being particularly hot with collectors. Records issued on Shrapnel or the original Metal Blade label also are popular in the U.S. 

“The very first Shrapnel album was called Metal Massacre, and Metallica is on that album, which was their first vinyl appearance before they got a record deal,” van Gool said. “In the early years, the Metal Massacre albums featured bands that were on their way to the next big thing, and everybody wants to have that.” 

The uniquely American hair metal phenomenon, which included acts like Cinderella, Poison, Motley Crue, Winger and Ratt, dominated mainstream music in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and those acts still have a strong fanbase here. However, overseas, hair metal isn’t as big of a draw as speed or thrash metal, which boasts bands like Metallica, Slayer, Testament, Exodus and Megadeth, van Gool said. 

One of the biggest “holy grail” items that collectors seek is Iron Maiden’s first 7-inch record a three-song EP called “The Soundhouse Tapes.” 

“That little 7-inch single can sell for $600, $700, which is an amazing amount of money for a single for a band that made it 30 years ago,” van Gool said. 

Autographs are another great collectible, although they are not always extremely valuable, van Gool said. 

“The great thing about most heavy metal bands is that they are, in my opinion, more approachable than most other artists you can think of,” van Gool said. “The moment you start to act like a superstar, you’re gonna lose fans. Your fans need to feel like they can associate themselves with you.” 

That means the desire to bootleg signatures isn’t as high in the metal realm as in other genres of music, he said. 

When it comes to stage-worn clothing, pristine isn’t always the most desirable state, he added. 

“The more an item shows wear and tear, the better, because the more use a piece of attire has, the more it will tell you that the artist really enjoyed wearing that piece,” van Gool said. “When you get something that has makeup on it or smudges on it or hairspray on it, or, even better, bloodstains on it, that, in my opinion, definitely adds value.” 

The focus of The Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction is near and dear to van Gool, who grew up listening to and collecting memorabilia from bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon. 

The sense of history associated with the memorabilia featured in this auction is staggering, Van Gool said. 

“You have to look at an individual piece, and you’ve gotta think about on how many stages this microphone stand has been, or what songs were recorded through this particular guitar, or how many photos have been made of this individual wearing this shirt or boots or whatever,” van Gool said. “It’s not just a shirt that’s on a mannequin that you photograph. There’s a little bit of history in front of you.” 

The auction lots are continuing to evolve, as many of the bands are first getting off the road from the hectic summer touring season. Confirmed headliners including the Al Jourgensen collection, which features everything from amps and road cases for guitars to microphone stands, pins, jackets, rings, sunglasses, gloves, hats and boots from the early 1980s until 2008. 

“You name it, it’s in there. He even included original master recordings from the early Ministry days,” van Gool said. 

When Ministry officially retired in 2008, it played its final farewell show in Ireland. A concert poster from that last show, signed by Jourgensen, also is in the auction. 

Whether you dig autographed records, signed posters or stage-worn attire from your favorite artists, the one thing that really matters at the end of the day is a piece’s provenance, van Gool said. 

Pantera, White Zombie, Metal Church, Exodus, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Whitesnake, Dio, Quiet Riot, Mr. Big, Winger, Nelson, Queensryche, Alice Cooper and Rainbow also are represented, he said. 

The final auction lineup will boast about 400 lots that range from concert photos sold with negatives and full rights, to vinyl, stage-worn clothing, backstage passes, concert posters and instruments.

For more details on The Rock Gods and Metal Monsters auction visit Backstage Auctions. The auction goes live on Halloween.

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