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Rear View Mirror: The World's Rarest Vinyl
By
Alex Redekop

Published

June 29, 2016

Genre

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Each week on Rear-view Mirror, Rich Terfry and the Radio 2 team look back at a great song from the good ol’ days. Today, Pete Morey steps in for a story about Darrell Banks' "Open the Door to Your Heart".

Here's the story of the world's rarest vinyl record. There's only one copy in existence, and that 7" disc is worth thousands of dollars. The song etched into the grooves on that rare record is likely one you've never heard, by a singer who died so broke that he was buried in an unmarked grave in Detroit. Here's how this musical mystery unfolded...

A handsome red-haired, though bald, dreamboat named Peter Morey, with thick framed glasses and a friendly smile.
Rear View Mirror - Darrell Banks' "Open the Door to Your Heart"

Through a bizarre sequence of events, one recording of Darrell Banks' song "Open the Door to Your Heart" became one of the rarest vinyl records in the world.

Audio

In 2014, an amateur record collector named Nick went to the estate sale of a man who had spent his lifetime working at a vinyl record pressing plant. Nick found a huge collection of records from the '60s, most of them untouched! In the collection were a lot of rare, but not necessarily valuable, records and he was a little disappointed. But one record did catch his eye. Nick was pretty sure the 1966 song "Open the Door To Your Heart" by Detroit soul singer Darrell Banks had been a hit on the State-Side record label. But the copy of the song he had in his hands showed a different record label, the London Label. Nick's palms started to sweat.

For years, rumours had spread in vinyl collecting circles about this song on this particular label. It was said to be the "holy grail" of records, a mistake pressing that made it so valuable. No-one had ever seen a copy, no-one believed it really existed beyond the myth.

The rumour goes that in 1966, the Darrell Banks song in question was licensed to London Records. Eager to start selling the popular soul song, the label sent it off to be pressed at their vinyl plant. However, that night there was a disagreement between the artist and the label, and now they had major problem on their hands... they'd already pressed thousands of copies of the song. Not wanting a lawsuit, they stopped the presses, pulled all the copies of the song from the factory floor and melted them down, every record destroyed by fire... except one. One copy escaped.

It must have been taken home by an employee at the pressing plant and added to his secret stash of vinyl, which would be discovered when he died almost 50 years later and be sold to Nick the record collector.

A few months after the find, Nick made a difficult decision and sold his valuable vinyl. It sold for almost $30,000 at auction. The world's rarest record is now the gem in some proud vinyl junkies collection, locked safely away.

So, what about the artist who sang on the world's rarest record? A few weeks after the London Label melted their records, the song was sold to another label, State-Side Records. It was pressed, sold, and made the charts. It was the only hit for Darrell Banks who lived on its royalties until 1970, when he was shot & murdered by his wife's secret lover, who just happened to be a cop. Darrell Banks, whose voice is trapped in those expensive vinyl grooves, died penniless and was buried in an unmarked grave in Detroit.

Here's the world's rarest record. This is Darrell Banks and "Open the Door To Your Heart" on Rear View Mirror.