Ask any fan of Prince, and they will tell you that their holy grail is an unopened copy of Prince’s The Black Album. Originally planned for release over 30 years ago, almost all 500,000 copies were destroyed when Prince ordered the record to be cancelled, and only a few have turned up since. Now, a one-of-a-kind pressing of the record has shown up online.
Back in 1987, Prince was getting ready to release the follow-up to Sign o’ The Times. Titled The Black Album, half a million copies of the album were pressed on vinyl before Prince had a “spiritual epiphany” and became convinced that the record was “evil”.
Soon after, Warner Bros. did their best to recall every single copy of the record so that they could be destroyed. In fact, they did such a good job of recalling these records that, in the last 30 years, only a handful of them have been found.
In 1994, Prince finally decided to release the record en masse, but the only available formats were CD and cassette, meaning that Prince fans have been after an official vinyl copy for years.
Back in December, five unopened copies were found in the house of a former Warner Bros. employee, who promptly sold the majority of them, making a tidy sum in the process. However, until now, no Canadian versions of the record have ever surfaced, with many assuming that all pressings from the Great White North were destroyed at Prince’s request.
Surfacing on Discogs recently, a rare Canadian version of the record was listed for sale for the sum of $27,500 (though it has since been sold). Former Warner Bros. executive vice president and record dealer, Jeff Gold, had been in contact with the seller, and confirmed the record’s authenticity after some extensive research.
“As word spread of the discovery of the five sealed copies, a former Canadian record pressing plant employee contacted me with an unbelievable story of his own,” explained Gold.
“In 1987 he was working at the Columbia Records Canadian pressing plant in Canada. When The Black Album was pulled and the copies that had been made marked for destruction, he kept one copy for himself.”
“He never realized its rarity or value until reading about the discovery of the US copies in Rolling Stone and contacted me.”
While Mixmag reports that Jeff Gold also helped to sell last year’s unsealed copies, with the final copy selling for $42,000, they were all reportedly in mint, sealed condition. Such is the value of this album that this newly-discovered, previously-played copy, which also features writing on the inner sleeve (something that any collector would tell you is a dealbreaker in most cases), has apparently managed to sell for more than $25,000.
Needless to say, if you have any relatives who worked for Warner Bros. back in 1987, now’s the time to start looking in their closets for any of these rare pieces of vinyl.