The priciest blues record ever

A rare copy of a Tommy Johnson 78 rpm has been sold for $37,100 on eBay, one of the highest prices ever paid for a record

An extremely rare Tommy Johnson record from 1930 has sold for $37,100 on eBay, the highest price ever paid for a blues record. The winning bidder was John Tefteller, a record collector from Oregon, USA.

The Paramount recording of blues vocalist and guitarist Tommy Johnson, who primarily recorded in the 1920s, is one of only two known copies. It features the two songs Alcohol And Jake Blues and Ridin’ Horse.

The bidding on eBay climbed to $16,800 with 29 bids for the record, until jumping up to $37,000 in the last few seconds.

The successful bidder, John Tefteller, has been collecting rare blues records for over 40 years and already owns the only other existing copy of the 1930 Tommy Johnson 78 rpm. He plans to sell this copy to offset the cost of the new copy, which he says is in much better condition and he “just had to have it”.

Tefteller says he was “blown away” when he saw the record listed on eBay by a seller in South Carolina who “absolutely did not realize what he had”. His plan now is to “have it properly remastered and share it with the world”. Tefteller deals in rare rock and roll and rhythm and blues 45s and 78s from his home in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Other rare Paramount blues records are known to be in existence but have not yet been found; “find me the missing Willie Brown or J.D. Short . . . and you will see me writing REALLY big checks,” Tefteller said.

Tefteller’s online shop, which stocks blues memorabilia, calendars and CDs, is at

Sally Evans-Darby

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