UPDATED: The On a Friday auction has ended, and the tapes have now been listed at $50K.
Ever been hanging around a venue just after your favorite band has played only to have some scuzzy-looking guy walk up to you and say, “Here, take this, it’s my band’s demo” and hand you an unsolicited CD-R or a cassette tape? What did you do with it? If you’re anything like me, you probably threw it in the trash or took it home, listened to it once, and then promptly lost it.
The problem is that that scuzzy-looking guy could be a superstar in ten years, and you’d feel pretty dumb to have thrown away that early demo tape they handed you. Some people have held onto those things, though.
Take these tapes, by a little band called “On a Friday,” which surfaced on eBay earlier this month. Inspired by a Talking Heads song, On a Friday later changed their name to “Radiohead.” Those On a Friday demos just sold had been listed for $29,999.99, and some early Beatles demos are about to be sold as well.
R.E.M.’s 1981 Demo
This showed up on the Internet late last year. The proud owner isn’t letting go of it, but he ripped the audio for all to hear. Apparently only 400 tapes were made, purely to hand out at R.E.M.’s first show in New York City.
Amazingly, it contains an early version of “Radio Free Europe.” That of course eventually became one of the band’s most beloved tracks, proving just how good R.E.M. was even at the very beginning.
The Offspring’s 1986 Demo Tape
This demo is an especially early example, as the Offspring wouldn’t even get a break to record an album until 1989. They didn’t quite manage to break out with that first album, but a few songs from this tape did end up on there. Unfortunately, this one also wasn’t put up for sale, but you can download and listen to it here.
This one was put up on eBay by Martin Atkins, who you might know better as Pigface. Trent Reznor wrote and recorded the song “Suck” with him, which eventually found its way onto NIN’s Broken EP, and Atkins played drums on “Wish.”
The tape itself contains five demo cuts of songs that would end up on NIN’s first album Pretty Hate Machine. Surprisingly enough, the clips posted by Atkins don’t even sound that different from the finished products that would captivate legions of fans only a short time later.
Muse’s Newton Abbot Demo Tape
This one showed up on eBay in late 2007, containing 11 of the earliest tracks Muse ever recorded. It’s unfortunate for the seller that he chose to sell when he did, since Muse hit an even bigger peak of popularity in 2009.
Back in 2007, the tape only sold for £700. Funny enough, Muse bassist Christopher Wolstenhome commented that the price the buyer paid was “a bit of a ripoff.” One wonders what he would say if he were a member of Radiohead.
At one time, you probably could have gotten your hands onNo Life Til Leather pretty easily. Metallica put them out around the Bay Area relentlessly back in the day. In fact, copies still turn up on eBay every now and then.
But you definitely can’t buy the “Sucking My Love” tape, as only one copy apparently even exists, owned by Ron McGovney, Metallica’s original bassist. You can listen to the very early recording however, which is a cover of a Diamond Head track that the band never recorded again.
The song was apparently recorded in McGovney’s garage, “by suspending a $49.00 ghetto blaster in the air, and with James singing through the guitar amp.”