Peace, love, and the power of music was at the heart of the 1960s. From anti-war anthems to thinly veiled drug references, the '60s music industry was full of interesting characters and timeless tunes. With technology today, it's so much easier to keep your old records in storage, but it's high time that you flip through them again because some of the most valuable records from the 60s are ones that just about everybody had.
Beatle's Yesterday and Today
Undoubtedly, the most popular band of the 1960s, the Beatles had hit after hit. Compared to the rest of their catalog, Yesterday and Today doesn't usually make it onto people's 'top Beatles' albums' lists. But the covetous 'Butcher' album covers are worth looking for.
Released in 1966, the first printings of this album featured cover art with the Fab Four in lab coats covered in raw meat and baby doll parts. The effect is…unusual, to say the least, and the label pulled these variants off shelves right away because of the public backlash.
Yet, if you can find copies of this infamous album, you're in good shape. One sealed copy sold for $125,000 in 2016, but you can expect a price range closer to $1,000. Recently, one copy sold on eBay for $1,637.10.
Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's second studio album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, catapulted the folk artist into a new league within the music industry. Released in 1963, topical songs like "Masters of War" and "Blowin' in the Wind" spoke to a nation wrestling with purpose and identity. The album was so well-circulated that you can find beat up copies selling for $30 online, while others boast $500 price tags.
Yet, a real treasured copy sold in 2022 for $3,500. What made it special was that it was a promo copy that featured four deleted tracks on the album's timing strip. Although they're not on the vinyl itself, this faux pas makes an average album worth quite a bit. And if someone uncovered it somewhere, that means there may be more promo pressings for people like you to find.
The Rolling Stone's Single Street Fighting Man
If you know anything about the Rolling Stones, you know they were embroiled in controversy from the time they broke onto the scene (*cough* Altamont Music Festival *cough*). They swung wildly in their style over the years, but stayed true to their blues-inspired rock 'n roll, and their 1968 single "Street Fighting Man" spoke to their denouncement of the widespread violence at the time. The single's cover art was a photograph of a moment of raw police brutality in Los Angeles. Thanks to riots and violence at the Democratic National Convention a few days after the song's release, there were a lot of attempts to suppress the song, and the record label pulled the album from shelves.
Today, copies of the vinyl with the original cover art are quite valuable. We're talking, in great condition, thousands of dollars. In 2011, Bonham's sold just an album sleeve for $17,080 and Heritage Auctions sold another for a whopping $81,250.
Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland
Jimi Hendrix inspired millions of kids to learn guitar because he was a true virtuoso with the instrument. He used his guitar to pump raw emotion into a crowd in a way that his quiet personality might not have let him in his everyday life. If you're not a huge Hendrix fan, you might not be familiar with his third and final studio album, Electric Ladyland. As the only record that he produced by himself, Hendrix has his fingerprints all over the album's sound.
First pressings from the album's UK release are quite valuable, at around $1,000 in great condition. Interestingly, there's a big debate over whether the white text or blue text on the album's back cover came first. No matter which one did, they're both valuable just the same. This blue text first pressing sold for $1,260.34 in 2019.
Johnny Cash's I Walk the Line
Johnny Cash was a prolific country artist with a reputation that preceded itself. A hard drinker and complicated partner, Cash's 19th studio album, I Walk the Line, inspired the title for the Academy Award-winning biopic based on Cash's life. From the title track to "Folsom Prison Blues," this album spares no expense in manufacturing hits that would last for decades.
The album itself can bring in anywhere between $20 and $100 at market, but any signed copies will jump into the hundreds. For example, this autographed copy sold in 2017 for $625.
Always keep your eyes peeled for albums with autographs. Even if you can't make out the signature, it's worth looking into since authentic signatures always increase a vinyl's value.
The Supremes' Meet the Supremes
The Supremes were one of the best girl-groups to come out of the 1960s, and without them, we'd never have the disco gem that is Diana Ross. Their first album was Meet the Supremes, and it debuted in 1962. This album wasn't a huge success, but it marks the moment that magic was percolating in Motown.
There were multiple cover variants and re-releases for this album, so it's difficult to pin down an exact value. First pressings are by-far the most valuable, recognizable for the cover art of the three women sitting on stools. One well-preserved copy sold for nearly $2,000 in 2021.
Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills
Cheap Thrills was a loud, indulgent, and bombastic record that helped define the late-60s sound. You might know it best for the major hit "Take a Little Piece of My Heart" that shows off Janis Joplin's achingly raw vocals. Instead of featuring a photograph, which was popular at the time, the album showcases a cartoon narrative by cartoonist R. Crumb. Originally, the cartoon was supposed to be the back cover art, but the band loved it so much that it got its own feature front and center.
Average copies of the R-rated cartoon-covered album from the first few years after its release are worth about $50, but just like with first edition books, first pressings are worth a bit more. This first pressing sold for $399.95 in 2016.
Nina Simone's I Put a Spell on You
The ultimate jazz singer of the 1960s, Nina Simone isn't as widely remembered as other artists on this list. But, her intense version of Jay Hawkins' 1956 song "I Put a Spell on You," and her seductive jazz single "Feeling Good" will ring bells for just about any listener. An activist and savant, Nina Simone's work is loved around the world.
Her original vinyls aren't as valuable as more popular musicians' ones are, but her niche audience is willing to pay a pretty penny for the good stuff. One collector bought this nearly mint promotional copy of her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You for $530.
Make Money From Your Favorite Music
Not every vintage album is worth more than putting it on the record player and having a good time. But some special copies are rare and unique enough to spark a collector's interest. And, if there's one thing music collectors have, it's deep pockets. So, browse through the old record collections you have access to and see if you can find any valuable 60s records to sell.
Do you have a collection of 45s? Some 45 RPM records are pretty valuable.