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MEMPHIS, Tennessee – One of the most significant instruments in the history of rock 'n' roll — or in the history of recorded music, for that matter — could be yours, if you're a millionaire.
The instrument is the so-called "Sun Sessions" guitar, the 1942 Martin D-18 acoustic guitar that Elvis Presley owned between 1954 and 1956.
The starting bid is $1.2 million, and auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll estimates the guitar will sell for between $2 million and $3 million. In the mid-1950s, a similar guitar would have cost about $140.
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"Elvis used this actual guitar extensively while recording at the iconic Sun Studios in Memphis, TN and while performing on stage during this period," according to the online description of the guitar.
Referred to as "Elvis Presley's most important guitar ever to come to auction," the "historic" instrument goes up for auction Wednesday in a 10-day online "Rock & Roll and Pop Culture and Sports Auction" hosted by the New Jersey-based auction house, which describes itself as "the premier destination for authentic rock and roll and pop culture memorabilia."
Assigned to "Lot 1," the Presley guitar is not only the key item of the auction but one of 53 Presley objects up for bid. Other artifacts available in the auction include a diamond-studded gold ring (starting bid: $6,000); Elvis' copy of Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet," with the singer's handwritten notes, underlinings and annotations ($4,000); and a red Munsingwear pajama top ($1,000).
Some non-Presley objects in the sale include Air Jordan sneakers worn by Michael Jordan during the 1985-86 season (starting bid: $100,000); Jim Morrison's handwritten lyrics for "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" ($100,000); and a charcoal nude sketch drawn by Kanye West ($5,000).
Accompanied by "extensive documents of provenance," the guitar was purchased by Presley at O.K. Houck’s Piano Store on Union Avenue. He decorated the guitar with adhesive metal letters spelling out his name, but only "ELVI" remains: The "S" is missing. According to the auction house catalog, "The extensive wear visible on the guitar due to Elvis’ hard strumming is testament to its considerable use by Elvis."
The guitar's significance comes from its use by Presley during the early Memphis days of the singer's career, especially during the so-called "Sun Sessions" of 1954 and 1955 at Sam Phillips' studio at 706 Union Ave. Sometimes referred to as the "Big Bang" of rock 'n' roll, the sessions found Presley, electric guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black innovating energetic and idiosyncratic interpretations of such country, bluegrass, rhythm-and-blues and pop songs as "That's All Right (Mama)," "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "Mystery Train" — innovations that would galvanize America's youth culture and rock the world, in more ways than one.
The guitar currently is on display at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and was featured in the 2019 "Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll "exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The guitar apparently is owned by Seattle-based DMX Music CEO Michael Malone, a noted collector of rock instruments and race cars who bought the Elvis guitar at a Christie's of London auction in 1993 for $151,700.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Elvis Presley's 'Sun Sessions' guitar up for auction