30 of the Rarest Vinyl Records: The Most Expensive Albums

Published Categorized as Vinyl Buyer Guides

Want to learn about some rare records on vinyl? Wonder whether you might have any yourself?

Then step forth and hear the good word!

ReleaseWorth When Last Sold
Once Upon a Time in Shaolin – Wu-Tang Clan$2,000,000
The White Album – the Beatles$900,000
“My Happiness”/”That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” – Elvis Presley$300,000
“God Save the Queen” – the Sex Pistols$200,000
Yesterday and Today – the Beatles$125,000
“That’s All Right”/”Blue Moon of Kentucky” – Elvis Presley$85,000
“Til There Was You” – the Beatles$77,500
“Ask Me Why”/”Anna” – the Beatles$35,000
The Black Album – Prince$27,500
“Street Fighting Man”/”No Expectations” – the Rolling Stones$17,000
Dark Round the Edges – Dark$16,000
Diamond Dogs – David Bowie$3550
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin$2000
“Travelin’ Riverside Blues” – Robert Johnson$1500
Erotica – Madonna$1000
Electric Ladyland – The Jimi Hendrix Experience$350
“I’ve Been Loving You” – Elton John$100
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Bob DylanUndisclosed
“That’ll Be the Day”/”In Spite of All the Danger” – the QuarrymenUndisclosed
Bleach – NirvanaUndisclosed
“Peaches”/”Go, Buddy, Go” – the Stranglers$1800
Motörhead – Motörhead$2000
“Sherry Darling”/”Independence Day” – Bruce Springsteen$2500
“November The Second” – Morrissey$3000
Music For The Masses – Depeche Mode$5000
“Midsummer Night’s Scene”/”Sara Crazy Child” by John’s Children$5000
An Ideal For Living – Joy Division$5500
Hank Mobley – Hank Mobley$5000
“Bohemian Rhapsody”/”I’m In Love With My Car” – Queen$6000
Melody AM – Röyksopp$10,000

1. Yesterday and Today by the Beatles

Price Last Sold: $125,000

Rarity: Pretty rare

As far as rare records vinyl go, this is fairly rare and was incredibly controversial in its time for reasons that should be obvious. These limited pressings were quickly pulled from the shelves and replaced with a more sanitary photo of the Beatles sitting around not doing all that much.

Beatles - Butcher Cover - RED VINYL - Yesterday & Today

2. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin by the Wu-Tang Clan

Price Last Sold: $2,000,000

Rarity: One-of-a-kind

The legendary hip-hop group only printed one copy of this album, stipulating that the owner was not allowed to release the recording into the world until 2103. The book about it (pictured below) is incredibly fascinating.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin: The Untold Story of Wu-Tang Clan's Million-Dollar Secret Album, the Devaluation of Music, and America's New Public Enemy No. 1

3. The Black Album by Prince

Price Last Sold: $27,500

Rarity: Considerably rare

Originally intended for release in 1987, Prince deemed the content too dark and ordered all the copies to be destroyed. Those that remain of the original are now worth a pretty penny.

Black Album by Prince (1994-11-22)

4. Til’ There Was You by the Beatles

Price Last Sold: $77,500

Rarity: Very rare

This one is so rare that there aren’t even pictures of it! This is a very early demo of the Beatles performing “Til’ There Was You” and “Hello Little Girl”, originally given to Les Maguire, drummer for Gerry and the Pacemakers.

5. Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin

Price Last Sold: $2000

Rarity: Fairly rare

This is one of those rare vinyl records that it feels like everyone knows about, hence why it isn’t one of the most valuable records on this list. The sleeve wasn’t always adorned with red text – instead, the first UK pressings were printed with turquoise text. Some record collectors go nuts for it!

Led Zeppelin

6. Diamond Dogs by David Bowie

Price Last Sold: $3550

Rarity: Fairly rare

The original cover for this record featured Bowie’s metamorphosis into a dog with all of the anatomically correct parts. The RCA record label didn’t quite approve, hence why all new copies do not feature such adornments.

Diamond Dogs (2016 Remaster)

7. The White Album

Price Last Sold: $900,000

Rarity: Near infinite

Now this really is a rare vinyl record. Sure, first pressings sell for a tidy sum, but one of the Beatles’ original copies? Those can sell for extortionate amounts, with or without the blessings of the Apple record label.

The Beatles (The White Album) (50th Anniversary

8. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan by Bob Dylan

Price Last Sold: Undisclosed

Rarity: Fairly rare

There exist such original copies of this album that feature four entirely unreleased songs, songs that were replaced by four different songs that were recorded after the album’s completion and that were neglected from certain copies by error.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

9. “God Save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols

Price Last Sold: $20,000

Rarity: Quite rare

The band’s loutish antics meant that they were so frequently dropped from labels that they were not often able to release any music on vinyl. Thus, there are many different versions of this single which can go for a pretty penny when put up for sale.

God Save The Queen

10. Electric Ladyland

Price Last Sold: $200

Rarity: Not uncommon

Original copies of this album featured Hendrix on the cover surrounded by a bunch of naked women, though this was changed very quickly.

Electric Ladyland

Still, Hendrix’s popularity at the time means this isn’t all that rare in general.

11. “My Happiness”/”That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” by Elvis Presley

Price Last Sold: $300,000

Rarity: One-of-a-kind

A rare demo of a song that Presley recorded for his mother at Sun Records is a perfect showcase of his raw talent far before his debut album.

Elvis Presley - My Happiness {Record Store Day Vinyl} 2015

12. Dark Round the Edges by Dark

Price Last Sold: $16,000

Rarity: Fairly rare

The oft-neglected progressive-rock band Dark released this album with three covers, and, since there were only a few copies of some covers, they can fetch a considerably sum when put up for sale.

Dark Round the Edges

13. “That’ll Be the Day”/”In Spite of All the Danger” by the Quarrymen

Price Last Sold: Undisclosed

Rarity: Extremely rare

Original pressings of the Quarrymen acetates are extremely rare – there are only a handful around – hence the rarity, you see.

Beatles Beginnings 8 (The Quarrymen Repertoire)

14. Erotica by Madonna

Price Last Sold: $2000

Rarity: Not uncommon

Original copies of this album featured a cover that heavily implied Madonna performing fellatio which proved altogether too much for her label.

Madonna - Erotica - Lp Vinyl Record

15. “That’s All Right”/”Blue Moon of Kentucky” by Elvis Presley

Price Last Sold: $85,000

Rarity: Rather rare

So, while the previous single by Elvis is effectively the first thing he ever recorded, this was the tune that launched him into the public consciousness. A rare original acetate of the song is, thus, worth a large amount when put up for auction.

That's All Right

16. “Ask Me Why”/”Anna” by the Beatles

Price Last Sold: $35,000

Rarity: Incredibly rare

This promo single is quite a deep cut even for the most dedicated Beatles fan. Only five were ever pressed, none of which were even commercially released.

Please Please Me/Ask Me Why - 45 RPM

17. “Street Fighting Man”/”No Expectations” by the Rolling Stones

Price Last Sold: $17,000

Rarity: Fairly rare

No strangers to controversy, the Rolling Stones were often asked to fit into the same boxes as their contemporaries the Beatles despite the fact they were inherently very different bands. This album originally featured an image of police brutality which simply did not fly with the label in the end.

Street Fighting Man

18. “Travelin’ Riverside Blues” by Robert Johnson

Price Last Sold: $1500

Rarity: Difficult to find

Now revered as a genius and innovator, at the time people scarcely what they had on their hands with Robert Johnson. Original copies of his 1930s recordings are quite difficult to find, so if you have one, clutch it tight and never let it go.

Travelin' riverside Blues

19. Bleach by Nirvana

Price Last Sold: Undisclosed

Rarity: Pretty rare

Nirvana’s first album didn’t achieve anywhere near the same success as its successor Nevermind, so only 1000 copies were printed, all in white. These copies, thus, go for quite the sum when put up for sale.

Bleach (Deluxe)

20. “I’ve Been Loving You” by Elton John

Price Last Sold: $3000

Rarity: Fairly rare

Relatively unknown at the time of this release – his first single – it has gone on, obviously, to garner greater attention in posterity owing to this massive success and presence as a household name throughout Western songwriting.

I've Been Loving You

21. “Peaches”/”Go, Buddy, Go” by the Stranglers

Price Last Sold: $1800

Rarity: Rather rare

Pairing one of the greatest post-punk basslines of all time with some altogether silly lyrics about a sexually frustrated mind on the beach, the original sleeve photo of the band was considered too similar to their contemporaries the Sex Pistols and so was dropped.

Peaches / Go Buddy Go - Stranglers, The 7" 45

22. Motörhead by Motörhead

Price Last Sold: $2000

Rarity: Rather rare

For no surprising reason, the original covers of their debut album have been avoided by many for their brazen repurposing of the swastika. Still, considering their relative outsider status at this time, records can go for a whole bunch of cash.

Motorhead: 40th Anniversary Edition

23. “Sherry, Darling”/”Independence Day” by Bruce Springsteen

Price Last Sold: $2500

Rarity: Extremely rare

Taken from Springsteen’s popular fifth studio album The River, these songs were originally released on a limited promotional single which has quickly faded into obscurity.

Bruce Springsteen, Sherry Darling b/w Be True, Vinyl 7" 45 RPM, UK Import, with Picture sleeve

24. “November the Second” by Morrissey

Price Last Sold: $3000

Rarity: Really rare

When a dance remix of his 1990 single “November Spawned a Monster” came out, Morrissey was unimpressed. Despite this, it was incredibly popular, though still rare, hence it’s worth today.

November Spawned a Monster by Morrissey (1990-04-18)

25. Music for the Masses by Depeche Mode

Price Last Sold: $5000

Rarity: Extremely rare

The budget reissue of this LP that came out in 1990 only received 12 pressings, making it one of the rarest, yet most popular, albums in circulation today, bearing what many believe to be the originally intended album cover for the release.

Music For The Masses

26. “Midsummer Night’s Scene”/”Sara Crazy Child” by John’s Children

Price Last Sold: $5000

Rarity: Near impossible to find

Before T. Rex, Marc Bolan was an essential part of the mod-rock band John’s Children, though they failed to take off in quite the same way as his Glam Rock efforts.

a midsummer's night scene

27. An Ideal for Living by Joy Division

Price Last Sold: $5500

Rarity: Pretty rare

Featuring a drumming Hitler Youth on an album called An Ideal for Living and naming your band after the prostitution wing of a concentration camp wouldn’t usually win you many fans, but it did for this here band whose legacy continues on to this very day.

An Ideal for Living

28. Hank Mobley by Hank Mobley

Price Last Sold: $5000

Rarity: Really rare

The initial pressing only featured a load of 300 to 1,000 copies, a shockingly small amount considering the label’s reputation and previous relationship with Hank.

Hank Mobley

29. “Bohemian Rhapsody”/”I’m In Love With My Car” by Queen

Price Last Sold: $6000

Rarity: Really rare

In 1978, record label EMI won a Queen’s Award For Industry for which they held a fancy award ceremony at London’s Selfridges Hotel. EMI general manager Paul Watts decided to have a special blue-vinyl edition of Queen’s best-known recording distributed at the event.

45vinylrecord Bohemian Rhapsody/I'm In Love With My Car (7"/45 rpm)

30. Melody AM by Röyksopp

Price Last Sold: $10,000

Rarity: Really rare

Persuading infamous street artist to hand spray a unique pressing of their debut album, the album was released in a batch of 100 hand-numbered records.

Melody A.M.

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to buy some rare records and sell your own that you might otherwise have had lurking around.

FAQs Rare Records Vinyl

What is the rarest vinyl record?

This was a demo that he recorded for $4 at Sun Records in Memphis (now $40 or so when adjusted for inflation), mostly as a gift for his mother.

What vintage vinyl is worth money?

Massive artists like, say, Michael Jackson are often not in the running for these kinds of things – being one of the biggest-selling recording artists in the world (Thriller being the biggest-selling album of all time), it is unlikely that any of his albums, especially Thriller, will ever be rare enough to be worth anything.

Are there any vinyl records worth money?

Indeed, in fact, there are plenty. The trick is knowing where to look and what to look for. This kind of task is made acres easier by sites like Discogs. Online vinyl stores such as this have become incredibly popular even for those who already have a physical vinyl store.

What is the hardest vinyl record to find?

It is widely believed that, today, original copies of The Black Album are the rarest vinyl records you can still find out in the wild. It’s not even known how many copies are still out there, though almost all that have been sold were promo copies that had already been sent to journalists and radio stations.

By Robert Halvari

My name is Robert Halvari - audio engineer and a total audiophile. I love vinyl because it has that natural character which brings music to life. I've been using and testing vinyl record players for around 15 years and I'm sharing my love and knowledge of vinyl by publishing all I know at Notes On Vinyl

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