L.A.-based memorabilia company Recordmecca recently put a Canadian-made vinyl copy of Prince’s The Black Album on the market. The record is so rare, many didn’t even know it existed.
“Nobody’s ever heard of a Canadian one,” Recordmecca owner Jeff Gold told CBC. “It’s literally one of a kind.”
Prince reportedly gave this particular 1987 LP to an employee, who gave it to another employee, before it ended up with Recordmecca. The company believes it’s only the second confirmed example that’s ever been available for sale.
The seller is a former employee of a Toronto record plant, which manufactured the album, according to Gold.
The Black Album was intended for release in 1987; however, Prince ordered that its 500,000 copies be destroyed. It was intended to be a follow-up to Sign o’ the Times without either a title or Prince’s name on the cover. Prince released Lovesexy instead. Bootlegs of The Black Album made the rounds, but the disc wasn’t officially released until 1994 in a limited run.
A handful of original CD copies have sold over the years, taking in between $3,000 and $10,000 US. A two-disc promotional copy is currently for sale on Discogs.com for $20,000. German vinyl pressings have surfaced, but most are fakes. The original U.S. single-disc commercial LP is “among the rarest vinyl records in the world,” according to Recordmecca.
When Gold was contacted by the seller in April, he was not initially convinced of its authenticity. He changed his mind when he saw the photos and heard the story behind it. The seller was unaware that he possessed something so unique for 30 years.
“He just thought it was a record that had been cancelled and he saved a copy from being destroyed and had it in his record collection and never thought about it,” Gold explained.
Gold, who worked with Prince in the 1990s while serving as an executive at Warner Bros. Records, noted that there is a bit of mystery surrounding the album and why Prince cancelled its release. It’s believed Prince changed his mind about its release following a drug-fueled episode.
The Canadian pressing of The Black Album is unique because it features the Canadian recording company information around the perimeter of the label as well as a different engraving in the matrix—the section between the label and grooves.
The near mint-condition album has only been played a couple of times and was listed for sale on June 4. It sold out quickly. A similar one sold at auction in February 2018 for $42,298.
Gold has a theory as to why the album is so valuable: “He’s an incredibly collectible artist and obviously very highly regarded, one of the most talented musicians to ever live, the only genius I ever worked with. His records are voraciously collected, and this is the pinnacle of Prince collectibles.”
Prince died of an accidental overdose in 2016 at the age of 57.