On July 18, 1953, a young truck driver walked into Memphis Recording Service with four dollars in his pocket to record two songs: “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartache Begins.” The result was a once-of-a-kind acetate (a cheap self-pressed demo) that legend says was supposed to be a present for his mother. That truck driver was Elvis Presley and this was the record that made Sun owner Sam Phillips perk up his ears.
He hauled Elvis back in to record a few more tracks and–well, you know the rest. Rock’n’roll was born, begat from this four-dollar record. Amazingly, this one-of-a-kind super-fragile acetate still exists–and it’s going up for auction next month. But how much will it fetch? Tough one, given its rarity, provenance and historical importance. Record Collector, the bible for this sort of thing, says that it’s worth at least $500,000 USD, but because we’re talking about an auction, the selling price could be much, much higher.