A remarkable collection featuring every U.K #1 vinyl single from 1952 to 1992 is heading for sale at Sworders Auctions this week.
The collection features 684 vinyl records, which tell the story of the ‘Golden Era’ of the singles charts and the changing face of pop culture in Britain.
Together, the records are now expected to sell for £20,000 – £30,000 when they go up for sale in Essex on July 7, as part of the ‘Into the Groove, 1950-1975’ sale.
The collection is the life’s work of Tim Claydon, who spent 44 years hunting for singles after being inspired by a childhood purchase.
“My collection was fuelled by my grandmother taking me, in 1963 as a three-year-old, into Woolworths in Maldon High Street to buy my very first single – ‘She Loves You’ by The Beatles,” said Claydon.
“As a young child I played my parents’ discs on our little record player, some 78s and some 45s. If not listening to those over and over again, I would be listening to Radio Caroline or Radio Luxembourg on our transistor radio.”
The collection begins in November 1952, when The New Musical Express (NME) music paper published the first chart consisting solely of record sales, rather than also including sales of sheet music.
That first #1 single, released on a shellac 78 record, was ‘Here in My Heart’ by the crooner Al Martino.
Other major ‘firsts’ during the early years include the first #1 by a female artist, ‘You Belong To Me’ by Jo Stafford (1952), and the first by a black artist, ‘Let’s Hhave Another Party’ by the Trinidadian pianist Winifred Atwell (1954).
In November 1955 the musical landscape changed forever as Bill Haley and The Comets reached #1 with Rock Around The Clock, as rock and roll hit British shores and sparked an explosion in rebellious youth culture.
The collection features #1s by many of the world’s biggest artists including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, ABBA, Michael Jackson and Madonna.
It chronicles the evolution of the vinyl format, and includes the first #1 45rpm single (Cara Mia by David Whitfield); the first #1 picture sleeve (Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix); the first #1 12-inch single (Rivers of Babylon by Boney M); the first #1 picture disc (Are Friends Electric? by Tubeway Army); and the first #1 coloured vinyl (Message in a Bottle by The Police).
The collection also charts the birth of musical genres and subcultures in Britain over the decades such as mod, soul, reggae, disco, glam rock, punk, New Wave, electro pop, indie and rave.
The collection ends in December 1992, when the chart rules changed and began to include sales of other formats including tape cassette singles.
The final song featured is ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston, from the soundtrack to ‘The Bodyguard’, which spent an impressive 10 weeks at the top of the U.K chart and remains the best-selling single by a female artist in music history.
In today’s age of digital sales and streaming, the idea of a chart based solely on physical sales of vinyl records may seem a little outdated.
But for many fans, the collection is a nostalgic reminder of a time when trip to the record store was a musical adventure in itself.