An interesting lot of Sun Ra items has come up for auction on eBay with the opening bid of $20,000:
Sun Ra (1914-1993) used Variety Recording Studio in the 1960s to 1980s. SUN RA STAMPERS, MOTHERS – 10 total + possibly 2 more that might or not be Sun Ra 11-1-79A 9-1213-85A 10-14-85B mother 1984B 1984C 1984D SRA 2000B mother 10-3B-6888A mother 10-3B-6888B mother 10-3B-6888A John Cage Meets Sun Ra Included in the batch are two more: 12-31-80 A&B Which might or might not be Sun Ra’s. STAMPERS: After material is recorded, it can be transferred from tape to a “master tape,” from which “acetate records” or if quantities are desired, the tape is “mastered” in order that “stampers” can be manufactured. Stampers for the two sides of a record are then placed in an oven-like machine where labels are inserted, an oily substance is injected, and one record at a time is “pressed.” The pressings can be in any quantity, and a stamper usually can make at least 1000 copies unless it breaks because of the heat and needs to be re-done. MOTHERS For larger quantities, a “mother” is made, and from that as many stampers as are desired can be pressed. CAVEAT The metal stampers/mothers are sold as a batch with the caveat that, unless a pressing plant with equipment similar to that used in the 1960s to 1980s can be found, no pressings could be made. It is possible that none of the present stampers can be used to make further pressings. However, it might be possible to digitize the data in order that a digital master could be created for digitally downloadable and CD creations. The stampers and mothers are particularly of interest as mementoes of the work by one of the last century’s great jazz bandleaders. They are sold “as is.” The buyer could re-sell the individual stampers. They are not sold for the purpose of infringing upon the rights of copyright holders. The materials offered have always been the property only of the seller.
The “Buy It Now” price for the entire lot is $26,000. It seems like you would be taking a big chance spending that kind of money with these caveats (especially if all the master tapes still exist). If, however, this music is currently being held captive by an obsolete technology, in recent years “lost” music was transferred (via laser I believe) from metal stampers dating from the 1930s containing two songs from blues legend Robert Johnson. Hard to tell what treasure awaits the buyer.
Here’s Sun Ra & his Arkestra live at the Chicago Jazz Festival 1981. The man certainly knew how to make an entrance!