OPINION: Since the untimely death of Prince in April of 2016, at the age of 57, interest in his music has sky rocketed.

Unreleased recordings have been discovered and albums he recorded have grown in value.

Last week a vinyl copy of his fabled 1987 LP known as The Black Album sold at auction for $US27,500 ($NZ41,700), making it the most expensive record ever sold on the online music marketplace Discogs.

Discogs is a website and crowd-sourced database of information about audio recordings, promotional releases and bootleg or off-label releases. Discogs contains more than 10 million releases.


After seeing that story I thought I would do a bit of research into why The Black Album commanded such a large price.

The Black Album, sometimes called The Funk Bible, was the 16th studio album recorded by Prince.

It was set down for worldwide release on December 8, 1987 as a follow up to Sign o' the Times, however, Prince became convinced the album was evil and he ordered it to be withdrawn from sale a week before its release date.

He told Rolling Stone magazine in 1991 that he realised he could die at any moment, and he would be judged by the last thing he left behind.

"I didn't want that angry, bitter thing to be the last thing."

The original 1987 promo-only release of The Black Album was quite unique.

It had no printed title, artist name, production credits or photography on it.

A simple black sleeve accompanied the disc. On the original copies only a song listing and catalogue number, 25667, were printed on the disc. When the album release was abandoned, there were around 100 European promotional copies in circulation and several in the US, and those rare albums would have been widely bootlegged in coming years.

Seven years later, on November 22, 1994, Warner Brothers finally released the album.

In the week of release Warner ran an ad on the back of Billboard magazine offering the owners of counterfeit copies a free copy of the legal release, provided they mail their illegal copy to them in exchange.

If you happen to have in your vinyl collection a promo release of The Black Album and it's in good nick, it is worth a small fortune.