How much would you fork out to own a one off item that once belonged to your musical idol? Is £24,000 enough? Well, that’s what the late Tupac Shakur’s love letter from high school recently sold for. I’m not particularly proud of it, but I’ll admit that I’ve reached mild obsessive mind-sets over some artists. Just the stage where I’ve watched every YouTube interview and live performance – nothing too serious…but I don’t think I’d ever go so far to splurge out and buy a novelty item that once belonged to a particular musician. There’s infatuation and then there’s obsession– and I’d rather avoid the latter mainly because it’s just plain creepy.
‘We have so much in common. We both love Prince, we’ve both had our hearts broken and we both love candles’
Tupac’s letter was a directed to a high-school crush back in 1988; 28 years on and people still can’t seem to let the skilled lyricist rest in peace. Not to be overly disrespectful but I wouldn’t say that this letter was written in his prime – ‘We have so much in common. We both love Prince, we’ve both had our hearts broken and we both love candles’. So, why did it sell for so much? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; there’s some kind of idealisation and immortalisation that occurs when a musician dies. Our fixation with the artist intensifies and it seems some will empty their pockets in return for a tiny bit of what’s left of them. It’s actually quite sickening knowing that people capitalize out of the death of someone. At the end of last year, Kurt Cobain’s notorious green cardigan that he wore during the MTV Unplugged session sold for a mere £93,000. John Lennon’s Gibson acoustic guitar sold for around £1,700,000. Perhaps the most obscure example I’ve come across yet is the auction of Whitney Houston’s credit card application which went for about £1,100. The documents include personal information including her address, social security number, business information and bank account details. That’s an immense invasion of personal privacy and to put it bluntly, what’s the point? What has that person actually got out of purchasing those documents? What have any of these buyers got out of owning these ridiculously glorified pieces? Apart from a hollow bank account and a quirky story of how they own Freddie Mercury’s tuxedo shirt which he probably wore once, or a Native American basket bought by Jimi Hendrix.
It’s not just late musicians either. Eddie Vedder’s hand written lyrics for Pearl Jam’s ‘Long Road’ sold for almost £2,300. The list is endless. What we need to keep at the forefront of our fandom is that musicians are just normal people. However talented they may be, they’re still just another human being; like the rest of us. They shouldn’t be glorified and their names shouldn’t be used to make thousands or even millions of pounds. With the recent and utterly tragic news of Prince’s passing, it won’t be even the slightest bit surprising when his flamboyant clothes or framed lyric sheets get flogged off for unthinkable prices. Let’s hope we manage remember his music and influence rather than turn fanatic about his belongings that were left behind. After all, it’s only a sign of respect.