Photo: Paramount Pictures - Public Domain

Elvis’ Guitar Ranked Most Valuable Instrument: Look + Listen

In 1968, the cherry-red guitar that many say helped save Elvis Presley‘s career may now be the world’s most valuable musical instrument!

Forty-six years following his premature passing, the iconic musician remains as much a musical enigma as a phenomenon. Over the past year alone, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic has been a critical and commercial success helping the singer’s songs stream more than a billion times on Spotify with Forbes reporting a $110 million increase from all income sources, and Billboard estimating the Elvis Presley estate is now worth $1 billion.

The guitar Presley played in his best-ever performance is described as his ‘good luck charm,’ and the legendary string instrument has just been officially valued at $5 million.

In 1968, Presley’s career stalled. During that time he hadn’t had a top 10 hit for three years and was banging out a series of cheesy films that, while financially profitable, were a far cry from the thriving youth culture and a turbulent backdrop of political assassinations and student riots. As a result, Elvis’ music career had come to a screeching halt according to Steve Binder who was hired to direct a TV special that would change everything.

Broadcast on December 3rd, Singer Presents Elvis aka ‘68 Comeback Special – saw the singer/songwriter roar back into the public awareness as the true king of rock ‘n’ roll during the show that was all about the music, and the raw excitement of Presley’s performance.

In addition to his face-framing high shirt collars, it was Elvis’ musicianship that made the comeback show, and it was his Cherry Red Hagstrom Viking II electric guitar that was the his instrument of choice for this epic performance.

55 years ago, the televised show attracted an incredible 42% audience share, ending 1968 as NBC-TVs highest-rated show of the year, and the soundtrack entered the top 10 and was certified platinum.

A revived Elvis Presley subsequently recorded From Elvis in Memphis – that included the massive hits ‘In the Ghetto’ and ‘Suspicious Minds’ – complete with album artwork that featured him playing the Cherry Red guitar. And a legendary Vegas residency would follow.

With Elvis’ evergreen appeal, that $5 million valuation may already be on the conservative side: could it soon become the world’s most expensive guitar, overtaking the $6,01m paid for Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged acoustic gig.

Top 10 guitars sold at auction

#10 – David Gilmour’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster (GBP £1.49 million)
#9 – Jerry Garcia’s Wolf Guitar (GBP £1.57 million)
#8 – Peter Green’s “Greeny” Les Paul (GBP £1.65 million)
#7 – Jimi Hendrix’s “Izabella” 1968 Fender Stratocaster (GBP £1.65 million)
#6 – John Lennon’s Gibson J-160E (GBP £1.9 million)
#5 – Reach Out to Asia Fender Stratocaster (GBP £2.23 million)
#4 – Eddie Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” Kramer (GBP £3.16 million)
#3 – David Gilmour’s Black Strat (GBP £3.28 million)
#2 – Kurt Cobain’s “Teen Spirit” Fender Mustang (GBP £3.7 million)
#1 – Kurt Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E (£4.85 million)

“There have been a lot of tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king.” – Bruce Springsteen

“When I first heard Elvis’ voice I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody; and nobody was going to be my boss. Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.” – Bob Dylan

“Before Elvis, there was nothing.” – John Lennon.

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Author: Al Denté

Photo: Paramount Pictures – Public Domain