Eddie Van Halen and Prince guitars, a Kurt Cobain self-portrait, Bob Dylan lyrics, a KISS drum kit and more go up for auction

Rock Icons Auction
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Five Charvel EVH Art Series electric guitars that were hand-striped and played on stage by Eddie Van Halen have gone up for auction. 

The one-of-a-kind guitars are headline items in the Music Icons auction hosted by Julien's, and are joined by a blue Cloud guitar commissioned by Prince, a Kurt Cobain self-portrait and a lot more.

The auction, which goes live on Friday 11 June and finishes on Sunday 13 June, is hosting breath-taking array of collectible instruments and artist ephemera. Among the other exhibits include Eric Singer of KISS's LED Pearl drum kit, Alex Van Halen's 1980 Invasion drum kit, and Bob Dylan's hand-written lyrics for Lay Dady Lay.

Charvel's EVH Art Series was a high-end US line built to Eddie Van Halen's specs. All the instruments up for auction have been hand-striped by Eddie himself, and played onstage. 

They come with certificates of authenticity, a hard case, and a hefty price tag. Bidding starts at $7,000 but are expected to fetch up to $50,000. There are two black and yellow models, a yellow and black striped model, a black and grey striped model and a red, white and black version with a 5150 graphic.

Despite their different finishes, these Charvel's share a similar build, with bolt-on maple necks and compound radius maple fingerboards, American basswood bodies and direct-mound EVH humbuckers. There's a double-locking Floyd Rose vibrato unit with a D-Tuna for on-the-fly drop-D tuning.

Each has a single Strat-style control marked "tone" that is actually a low-friction volume control – those volume swells were a crucial part of Eddie's dynamic technique.

As for the Alex Van Halen Invasion drum kit, we have seen that before. Six months ago, it was listed on Reverb for a cool asking price of $275,000, and Julien's lists it here as being expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000. 

The kit itself is Ludwig, with a unique double-double bass drum configuration, with a pair of 24" bass drums on the right, and a pair of 26" bass drums on the left. These pairs are connected via rubber tubing so the depth is adjustable.

Eric Singer's KISS kit is less innovative but no less aesthetically striking. The transparent Pearl kit has LEDs to add a little colour to your Friday night performances down the Dog & Partridge and is currently bidding at $17,500 with an expected maximum bid of $70,000.

The other standout guitar lot features a blue Cloud guitar built on request by Andy Beech for Prince in 1994. Bidding starts at $15,000 and is expected to reach $80,000 for this one. 

Having been ordered in London, the guitar was taken from the Paisley Park inventory, making it hugely collectible. The stamp on the neck plate reads “Property Of / PRN Music Corp“ and the pickup cavity is signed by Prince's former guitar tech, Zeke Clark.

1994 Prince-commissioned Cloud Guitar

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Elsewhere, there is a Kurt Cobain self-portrait that dates back to Nirvana's Nevermind era. Emblazoned "Kurdt Kobain Rock Star" with "I don't know how to play and I don't give a hoot!" down the side of line drawing, the illustration was given to freelance photographer Jacque Chong, who was shooting in Singapore during their 1992 Nevermind tour. 

The drawing is terrible. Just look at it. No, not the rudimentary form – that's a stylistic choice, but the Kurt, or Kurdt of the picture is playing the guitar right-handed. Really it is a self-portrait in reverse. Either way it is expected to fetch up to $20,000. 

Of more historical significance and expected to fetch between half-a-million dollars and $700,000 are Bob Dylan's handwritten and annotated lyrics to Lay Lady Lay. 

Written and recorded in 1969, covered by the Byrds, Duran Duran and more, it is one of the key tracks in the Dylan songbook. This version of the song features lyrics that did not make the final cut, and Dylan has daubed some chord suggestions beside the verses. 

Of course, if all this is not what you are looking for, maybe Elton John's 1975 orange jumpsuit would be more suitable. Definitely a strong Spring/Summer look. For full details, head over to Julien's Auctions

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.