Original post Dec. 21: A legendary guitar that Elvis Presley handed over to a fan during a concert in Asheville 40 years ago will be on the auction block in January.
The sleek, black guitar is known as the Gibson Ebony Dove. Elvis played the guitar during his Aloha from Hawaii concert, an early satellite television broadcast shown around the world. Elvis gifted the guitar to a fan, Mike Harris, sitting on the front row of one of three shows Elvis played at the Asheville Civic Center in July 1975. Here’s how it went down, according to a story about Elvis in Asheville by Jon Elliston for Mountain Xpress:
At first, Elvis’ band went through the usual motions: The theme from 2001 set the scene, then the lights came up and there was Elvis. “He just strode across the stage,” Harris remembered in a recent interview with Xpress. “Charlie Hodge, his back-man, put the guitar over him.”
The instrument was one of Elvis’ favorite six-strings, a personalized Gibson he’d commissioned back in 1968. His name was engraved in the guitar’s neck in a mother-of-pearl inlay. The body was as black as his hair—except for the Kenpo Karate sticker he’d pasted on beneath the lacquer. He’d played it in shows all over the country, and in several of his movies.
Elvis strummed and sang for a moment, then made a move that even his most ardent fans couldn’t have expected.
“He was in his opening number,” Harris remembers. “After he finished the first verse, they went into a break and he stopped, looked straight at me, walked over to the edge of the stage, and said, ‘Here, this is yours.’”
And with that, Elvis pulled the guitar over his head and placed it in Harris’ hands.
Harris went on to become an amateur Elvis impersonator, playing the guitar at gigs far and wide, including for third-grade students when he taught at Bell Elementary School. In successive years, the guitar has mostly been held in a bank vault.
Here’s the press release about the Auction at Graceland:
On the eve of Elvis Presley’s™ Birthday Celebration at Graceland®, bidders will once again have the opportunity to own authentic Elvis artifacts through The Auction at Graceland, with online bidding provided by Invaluable, the world’s leading online live auction marketplace. The Auction at Graceland is scheduled to take place at 7:00 pm CST on January 7, 2016, and will offer an incredible array of artifacts from the life and career of Elvis Presley. Bidders can view the full catalog on Invaluable.com and bid online in real-time during the live auction.
Headlining the auction is Elvis’ Gibson Ebony Dove guitar (estimated at $300,000 – $500,000) from the Aloha from Hawaii concert broadcast via satellite around the world, which was given to a fan in the front row of an Elvis concert on July 24, 1975 in Asheville, North Carolina. The guitar is considered one of the most significant pieces in musical history.
Additional notable lots from the auction include a handwritten letter from Elvis to his pal Alan “Hog Ears” Fortas while he was in the Army (estimated at $30,000 – $50,000), an original recording of the Louisiana Hayride show in which the famous phrase “Elvis has left the building” was first uttered (estimated at $10,000 – $15,000), a classic “TCB” gold necklace that Elvis gifted to his friend and bodyguard Sam Thompson (estimated at $12,000 – $15,000) and a gold-toned microphone and cord used on stage in 1969 at the International Hotel (estimated at $10,000 – $15,00).
“Elvis Presley universally remains one of the most iconic musicians of all time, and we are thrilled to once again work with The Auction at Graceland to offer online bidding on this incredible selection of artifacts from his life,” said Rob Weisberg, Invaluable CEO. “Elvis’ legendary Gibson Ebony Dove guitar is one of the most celebrated guitars to ever be offered publicly – and we are pleased to give online bidders around the world the chance to own this incredible piece of history, along with the other Elvis artifacts included in the sale.”
Other highlights being offered by The Auction at Graceland include:
Complete Elvis Presley Concert Film from the Memorial Auditorium Show in Buffalo, NY – Shot by Elvis on Tour Director Robert Abel (estimated at $25,000 – $35,000)
Gold, Diamond and Rock Crystal Quartz Ring Gifted by Elvis Presley to Linda Thompson (estimated at $15,000 – $20,000)
1970s Elvis Presley “TCB” Nautic Neostyle Prescription Sunglasses (estimated at $12,000 – $15,000)
Elvis Presley Complete Movie Poster Collection (estimated at $12,000 – $15,000)
Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker Signed Concert Contract for November 22-25, 1956 Concerts (estimated at $10,000 – $15,000)
RCA Award Presented to Colonel Tom Parker for making Elvis Presley’s 1956 “Hound Dog” a Million Seller (estimated at $8,000 – $10,000)
Elvis Presley Personally Owned Leather Coat (estimated at $3,000 – 5,000)
Elvis Presley Personally Owned and Worn Gray Guayabera Shirt (estimated at $3,000 – $5,000)
“All 126 lots in The Auction at Graceland have been expertly authenticated by the staff of Graceland Authenticated, and we believe this will be the most exciting sale of Elvis artifacts yet,” said Graceland Auctions Managing Director Laura Pickett. “We look forward to working with Invaluable to once again offer online bidding to fans, music collectors and pop culture enthusiasts, and extending the reach of this sale around the world.”
All of the items being offered at auction come from third-party collectors and none of the items included in the auction will come from the Graceland Archives. Each lot in the auction has been thoroughly researched and certified by Graceland Authenticated, the authority in Elvis and pop culture authentication.
To view the catalog and bid online in the upcoming Auction at Graceland through Graceland Auctions, please visit Invaluable.com.
More on the auction of Elvis memorabilia here.