The auction has become the diehard fan's last chance to claim a piece of their idol. Some of the items on offer have been snatched from the living: a harmonica played by Bob Dylan (estimated asking price: upwards of pounds 5,500); the lyrics which Johnny Rotten (quaintly referred to by Sotheby's as a 'rebel rouser') scrawled out for the Pistols' 'New York' (pounds 2,500, anyone?). And a music event would lack prestige without Madonna sticking her oar in. But you'll have to come up with pounds 12,000 for the basque (with 'enticing lace panelling') worn on the wonderful 'Blonde Ambition' tour.
Then there are the gifts from the dead, an altogether more valuable area since the supply is finite. And what an opportunity for fans: the bastards were untouchable when they were alive. Money can't buy you love but it can put you in possession of John Lennon's lyrics for 'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away' (between pounds 25,000 and pounds 30,000), scribbled in blue ball-point pen. Or a Keith Moon tom-tom baring the legend 'Keith Moon, Patent British Exploding Drummer' (up to pounds 3,500). While a selection of Jimi Hendrix's guitars (bottom left and centre) will rob you of up to pounds 60,000. Each.
So start saving. Not for this week's auction, but the one in three decades. You'll have a son or daughter by then, and their savings could boost your bid for a pair of genuine Stone Roses flares, or a Take That G-string, or some eyebrow clippings from Liam of Oasis. Over to you, Alastair.
The Story of Rock'n'Roll on sale at Sotheby's, 34-35 New Bond St, W1 (071-493 8080) Thursday 15 September
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