Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Immediately after the story broke about the death of Michael Jackson, a flood of Jackson memorabilia hit the online auction blocks.

I don't know much about the non-recorded items, but I do follow the vinyl market. In disbelief I have seen some very common albums, especially “Thriller,” selling for hundreds of times the normal price.

Are these buyers making wise investments? Or is this nothing more than a short-lived spike?
—Jody Phillips, Milwaukee

DEAR JODY: Not surprisingly, quite a few readers asked similar “are these prices for real” questions.

Let's first recap some bizarre examples of outrageous eBay prices being paid for records since Michael's death.

In the weeks before June 25, 2009, copies of “Thriller” were plentiful and easily available for under $10.00, not an unusual amount for any commercially successful album from the 1980s — but especially for the all-time top album, with worldwide sales over 100 million.

Value is always determined by two factors: supply and demand. Since an abundant “Thriller” supply always exceeded demand, prices remained at a minimum, on average close to the original LP sales price.

Until about 3:30 p.m. (PDT) on that Thursday, when memorabilia sellers first learned of Jackson's death.

Suddenly demand surpassed the currently posted supply, and asking prices immediately leaped into the $30 to $300 range. Hundreds sold at those prices.

Since then, prices have been all over the place, from $6.00 up to $1,500 for copies with seemingly no differences in condition, and not signed by anyone.

History, as well as common sense, suggests the thrilling “Thriller” roller coaster will soon return to the starting gate. Then, as before June 25th, 10 bucks will likely buy the LP and cover the postage.

Music collectibles can be a brilliant investment, though substantialy overpaying is a sure-fire way to negate potential earnings. If there is any wisdom in that I am unaware of it.

Here are a few other M.J. collectibles fetching big bucks in the week after his death: $9,600: Electric guitar, signed by the Jackson 5 (Michael, Jermaine, Tito, Marlon, and Jackie); $6,600: Used respirator, signed by Michael; $4,999: Framed “Artist of the Decade” signed commemorative edition (1,000 made); $4,250: “Thriller” picture disc, signed on both sides by Michael; $3,827: Electric guitar signed by Michael; $1,460: Julien's April 2009 Auction Catalog, signed by Michael.

IZ ZAT SO? Thanks to “Thriller,” Michael Jackson spent a lot of time at the podium in 1984.

On January 16, he won a record-setting eight American Music Awards: 1. Pop & Rock Male Artist. 2. Pop & Rock Album (“Thriller”). 3. Pop & Rock Single (“Billie Jean”). 4. Pop & Rock Video (“Beat It”). 5. Soul-R&B Male Artist. 6. Soul-R&B Male Album (“Thriller”). 7. Soul-R&B Video (“Beat It”). 8. Award of Merit.

The following month at the 26th Annual Grammy Awards, announced February 28, 1984 for '83 releases, Jackson took home seven golden gramophones: 1. Single (“Beat It”). 2. Album (“Thriller”). 3. Pop Vocal Performance (Album), Male (“Thriller”). 4. Rock Vocal Performance (Single), Male (“Beat It”). 5. R&B Vocal Performance (Single), Male (“Billie Jean”). 6. New R&B Song (“Billie Jean”). 7. Producer (Non-Classical) Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones (“Thriller”).

An eighth Grammy for “Thriller,” for Best Engineered Recording (Non-Classical), went to Bruce Swedien.

Michael established a record high with his seven Grammy wins, surpassing the six won by Roger Miller for his 1965 output.

With 37 consecutive weeks in 1983 at No. 1, “Thriller” ranks second in this category behind “West Side Story,” with a 54 week stay at No. 1, in 1962.

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