NJ company is auctioning Sun Studio’s ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ piano; price could exceed $1 million

million dollar quartet piano auction

From left, “Million Dollar Quartet” members Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash at Sun Records’ studio in Memphis in 1956.

A New Jersey company is auctioning the piano shown in the photo at the right. It’s a 1949 Wurlitzer spinet and was the studio piano at Sun Studio in Memphis, where Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and others recorded some of the songs that helped launch the Rock ‘n’ Roll Era.

It has been called the Million Dollar Quartet Piano because it was used in the Dec. 4, 1956 jam session that featured Presley, Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash and has been immortalized as the Million Dollar Quartet session.

In conjunction with the 65th anniversary of that day, this week, the Franklin Lakes-based company Gotta Have Rock and Roll is auctioning off the piano and other items, including Presley’s Sun Records contract. Minimum bids are $700,000 for the piano and $40,000 for the contract, though the company estimates they will sell at $800,000-$1 million and $100,000-$150,000, respectively.

The auction lasts until Dec. 10; visit gottahaverockandroll.com.

The “Million Dollar Quartet” piano.

The piano was used in Sun Studio from 1950 to 1960 and was played on classic rock songs such as Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” Perkins’ “Matchbox,” and Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88.” It previously has been on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s museum in Cleveland, and Graceland in Memphis.

According to the company’s web site, Gotta Have Rock and Roll was founded in 2008 and deals in both music and sports memorabilia.

The company says it has sold “some of the most influential artifacts in music history, such as Elvis Presley’s Owned and Stage Played 1942 Martin D-18 Sun Sessions Guitar — also known as the guitar that started Rock and Roll — ($1,320,000 realized), John Lennon’s ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ Personally Owned and Used Piano From His Kenwood and Tittenhurst Park Homes On Which He Composed ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, ‘A Day In The Life’ ($725,000 realized), and Duane Allman’s Owned and Extensively Played 1957 Goldtop Gibson ‘Layla’ Les Paul Guitar ($1,050,000 realized).”

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