PHOENIX — On October 5 at Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum, New York City-based auction house Guernsey’s will present items of outlaw country megastar Waylon Jennings.
The featured collection is being offered by country music legend Jessi Colter, Jennings’
wife of more than 30 years with whom he often shared the stage. The event will also help bring attention to the important care provided at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
A driving force of the Outlaw Country movement that erupted in the ’70s, Jennings rejected the conventions of country’s manufactured “Nashville Sound” and reached superstardom with his commanding baritone and stripped-down, updated honky tonk, which gave his music a gritty edge all its own. It was the intercession of an acquaintance that brought Arlan Ettinger, co-founder of Guernsey’s, together with Ms. Colter, resulting in this historic auction.
“Someone I hadn’t spoken to in 20 years, who is a friend of Ms. Colter as well, got in touch with me and said ‘Jessi has this iconic motorcycle that belonged to Waylon Jennings, and she might be willing to sell it,’” Ettinger said.
The iconic motorcycle is a centerpiece of the more than 2,000 items (offered in 500 lots) of this auction, and is one example of the many various musical legacies represented in this collection.
As the story goes, the motorcycle, an Ariel Cyclone, originally belonged to Buddy Holly. The British bike was purchased new in 1958, by Holly, at a time when Jennings was filling in for one of The Crickets, Ettinger explained. In fact, Jennings was at the airstrip on the fateful winter night and was set to board the same plane as Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, among others. However, the illness of another band member prompted Jennings and the man to switch places so the man who was feeling ill would take the plane, and Waylon would travel in the bus.
Years after the fateful airplane crash that took the lives of Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper, among others, the surviving members of Holly’s band, The Crickets, found the motorcycle, acquired it, and gifted it to Jennings, Ettinger said.
Throughout his career, Jennings worked with some of the music industry’s biggest names and was a member of The Highwaymen, in which he performed alongside Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
Many items from fellow artists are also included in the collection being brought to auction by Guernsey’s, including:
• Original signed contract establishing The Highwaymen.
• Handwritten letter to Jennings from John Lennon.
• Training gloves and a robe worn by Muhammad Ali In the ring.
Another selection of items are lyrics and thoughts for songs to come, all penned by Jennings.
“The lyrics are amazing items,” Ettinger said. “In a world where collectors value even the slightest scratchings of words and innermost thinking of these people, this type of thing reveals a whole other level of the person.”
The auction catalog is also expected to become a popular collectible. It is available for $30 (plus $12 priority shipping within the U.S.). The live auction will take place in two sessions on Sunday, October 5, beginning at 1 p.m.
For additional information, visit www.guernseys.com or call 212-794-2280.
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