A Hagstrom Viking II electric guitar, used by Elvis Presley during his legendary 1968 televised 'comeback special,' has sold (opens in new tab) at auction for $625,000.
Once owned by Al Casey, a member of Presley's band for the special, the guitar – which was sold by GWS (opens in new tab) as part of its "Artifacts of Hollywood & Music" auction – had initially been given a starting bid of $250,000.
Presley used the guitar – which previously featured in an exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – during the opening segment and one of the live "stand-up" portions of the 1968 show, which marked his return to the stage after focusing exclusively on films for all of the 1960s up to that point. Presley can also be seen with the guitar on the cover of his 1969 album, From Elvis in Memphis.
In a letter that accompanied the Hagstrom, Casey wrote (opens in new tab) that the special's producers asked him to let Presley use the guitar because they "thought it would look beautiful on camera and with the set."
That notarized letter from Casey, a second letter from Casey, a notarized statement from Hal Blaine (who was Presley's drummer for the performance), and a letter from the show’s music producer, Bones Howe, also came with the guitar.
It was also sold with loan paperwork from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a number of photographs of Presley taken during the filming of the performance.
Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.
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