Prince playing the Iconic Yellow Cloud Electric Guitar. Image: Heritage Auctions
BEVERLY HILLS – The Yellow Cloud Electric Guitar personally-owned and played by Prince will be offered exclusively during Heritage Auctions’ Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction on June 24-25. With an opening bid of $30,000, it is expected that this instrument, which is as unique and innovative as the artist’s legendary contribution to the music world, will break auction records.
The beautiful brilliant yellow guitar was Prince’s instrument of choice for his hours-long concerts performed from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Made-to-order in the shape and style Prince made famous, the instrument was the superstar’s instrument of choice as he thrilled fans with his eclectic collection of music.
There is great excitement among Music Memorabilia collectors for this iconic piece of history. Garry Shrum, Director of Music Memorabilia at Heritage Auctions explains the importance of the Yellow Cloud Electric Guitar: “It’s interesting to realize that Prince personally designed and commissioned this piece of art and it carries hallmarks of his famous “Love Symbol”, which he would adopt as his name during a famous contract dispute with Warner Bros. in the early 1990s,”
According to Shrum, there is no doubt that the Yellow Cloud Electric Guitar belonged to Prince. “One glimpse and you have no doubt that this is Prince’s guitar,” he said.
Built to Prince’s exacting standards and expectations, the singular guitar is a master piece. “As celebrity stage-used instruments go, this piece is as unique as Beethoven’s piano or John Coltrane’s saxophone,” Shrum said.
Yellow Cloud Electric Guitar is unique in the true sense of the word. Besides its bright-yellow with gold-tone hardware, the instrument also has some amazing features. It is complete with Schaller tuners, a Floyd Rose Original tremolo (with bar), one volume knob, one tone knob, a three-way switch, nut, and truss rod cover. The pickups are both from EMG — the bridge pickup is a humbucker and the neck pickup is a single coil.
An original label on the back of the body of the instrument points to ownership: “Property of PRN MUSIC CORP. PM 16644″. On the custom hard case of the guitar is an identical tag with the serial number of 16643.”
The Yellow Cloud Electric Guitar was an instrument of choice for Prince. He used the instrument for recording sessions and at performances for several years until the neck broke in 1994 at a French T.V. show. Instead of discarding or replacing it, Prince gave it to his guitar technician, Zeke Clark, to repair.
In a letter of authenticity which accompanies the guitar, Clark notes that “This Yellow Cloud guitar was Prince’s main guitar and used in most of his early videos and touring performances & album recordings.” He writes further: “In 1994 he broke the neck of this guitar at a French T.V. show. After returning to [United States], I repaired neck and installed the first Floyd Rose set up Prince ever played … [a]nd then used in recording more albums, up until the symbol guitar was born.”
In addition to the instrument, Heritage Auctions’ Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction will also include a rare, Reel-to-Reel Demo Tape with Tracklist Written in His Own Hand.The early Prince demo tape, made between 1976 or 1977, was recorded before he was signed to contract. Bidding will open at $2,000. for the tape which contains three songs, including Just as Long as We’re Together, My Love Is Forever,” and an instrumental track titled Jelly Jam. Jelly Jam was later reworked into part of Just as Long…
The memorabilia auction which recognizes Prince and his extraordinary music career will also include important items relating to the pop music icon. They include a 1984 “Purple Rain” RIAA Platinum Record Sales Award bestowed to Prince and the Revolution commemorating the sale of more than 1 million copies (opening bid: $1,000); an RIAA Gold Record Sales Award for 1999, his first to reach the Top Ten (opening bid: $1,000); an RIAA Hologram Gold Video Sales Award for Purple Rain, the artist’s first home video release (opening bid: $750).
Prince died April 21, 2016 at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota. Since his death, there have been speculations that his death was related to drug addiction. As investigations continue, fans are celebrating the life of this pop icon. As prelude to the auction, the Yellow Cloud Electric Guitar will be on public display from June 22-25, 2016 at Heritage Auctions’ Beverly Hills office.