A guitar bought for Alvin Stardust for just £1.50 when he was a boy is now worth more than £1 million – because of an autograph he picked up in Doncaster.
The budding pop star took his three-quarter sized Spanish guitar everywhere and had it signed by such famous names as Buddy Holly and The Crickets, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and Chuck Berry – among many others.
The 71-year-old star told a BBC Radio 2 programme last night how his parents gave him the guitar for his 12th birthday, in 1954.
“It cost £1 10 shillings, about £1.50 in today’s money,” he says. “Although it was not a full-size acoustic, to me it was the best guitar in the world. After about a fortnight I had roughly learned a couple of chords.”
In 1958, he saw an advertisement for a concert by Buddy Holly and The Crickets at a cinema in Doncaster, and went there from his Mansfield home on the bus, taking the guitar with him.
There were 2,000 people standing outside the cinema but, because he had the guitar, “a path opened up for me”. Then a kindly usherette and manager helped him go to meet the group in their dressing room. They ended up singing Holly’s hit Peggy Sue with him and signed his guitar, because there was a pencil available, but no paper.
He was given the best seat in the house, and on return to Mansfield he called the guitar Peggy Sue.
“From that moment, and for over 50 years since, Peggy Sue has stuck, and I love it,” he says.
Next to sign the guitar was Bill Haley, followed by Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, then when Stardust started to tour, under the name Shane Fenton, he received the signatures of acts he was on the road with, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and Joe Brown.
The autographs of The Beatles and Rolling Stones were to follow and Stardust says the guitar that was bought for £1 and 10 shillings has recently been insured for £1.25 million.