Alan Wilder Collected: An auction of Depeche Mode and Recoil memorabilia
Photos by Sean McManus of the Depeche Mode and Recoil auction in Manchester
Alan Wilder (of Recoil and formerly of Depeche Mode) auctioned a huge personal collection of instruments, tour memorabilia, stage clothing, posters, acetates, test pressings and rare records on 3 September 2011. In total, 422 lots were offered in an auction staged in the Zion Arts Centre in Manchester, with buyers worldwide also participating online.
For Depeche Mode fans, it was a real treat. Even for those who did not win, there was a chance to browse the collection and try some of the instruments. The most popular lot on the day, judging by the reception in the viewing room, was an Emax II synthesiser which was loaded with samples from the Songs of Faith and Devotion Tour. You could tap the 'Load Bank' button, slide the slider to choose between the songs (with short names such as 'The Things' and 'Something To'), wait a few moments for the bank to load, and then tap the keys to hear some iconic Depeche Mode sounds. There were the thumping clangs from Master and Servant, the metallic plinks from Pipeline, and the motorcycle idling sound used for Stripped. You got a good sense for how the samples were triggered in a concert, and there were also some revealing vocal samples, including a very long backing vocal sample for Condemnation. The Emax II sampler was estimated at £2,500-£3,000, so there was a murmur in the room when a commission bid opened the bidding at £3,200, and the price reached £6,400 before the hammer fell. Another fan in the viewing room told me that the sampler itself was only worth about fifty quid, so the final price showed the premium attached to having authentic Depeche Mode sounds, and to owning something from the Alan Wilder Collection. In fact, zip discs containing just the Emax sampler sounds sold for up to £650 each.
There was also a chance to hold the Knight Gretsch guitar, played by Martin Lee Gore on tour, and one of two that was modified for the World Violation tour to reduce feedback. The back of the guitar had a felt pad on it, so that it wouldn't scrape against the metal features in Martin's stage clothes. The guitar far exceeded its estimate of £3,000 to £5,000 to sell for £10,400. There was a round of applause in the room when the hammer fell. "It did suit you, by the way," said the auctioneer to the young lady who had bought it.
There was a wealth of memorabilia available, including gold and silver disks, posters (framed and unframed), photographic prints, acetates, test pressings, tour t-shirts and programmes, and rare foreign records and CDs.
Clearly, there was huge value attached to owning something from this collection, with all items coming with a signed letter of authenticity and a signed DVD documentary about the collection (which was also sold separately). A set of ten signed remastered CD/DVD albums, which are still commercially available for £7 to £11 each, went for £400.
In a Q&A session held on the day, Alan Wilder said that he still has a lot of souvenirs, including some t-shirts and posters, and that he wouldn't part with personal mementoes such as photos and videos from tours. In one catalogue entry about the stage clothing, he said: "I feel emotionally attached to this stuff, but really have no use for it any more and would prefer a real DM fanatic collector to own this small piece of history."
The auction took about five and a half hours and was followed by a performance. Alan Wilder and Paul Kendall performed part of the Recoil touring show to thank those who had participated in the auction. The show included dance remixes of Walking in my Shoes, Never Let Me Down Again, and Personal Jesus.
I didn't win any lots, unfortunately, but I did have a fantastic experience taking part and would like to thank Alan Wilder and Omega Auctions for making the event so accessible to fans. I met Alan Wilder, sat behind the drums I saw Wilder play at my first Depeche Mode concert at Crystal Palace in July 1993, explored the Depeche Mode sampler banks, and saw Recoil in concert. Some great reward, indeed.
Sean's photographs of the Alan Wilder collection
See the catalogue for the auction, including Alan's comments on the lots, for more details.
All photos © Sean McManus. Unauthorised reproduction and linking directly to image files prohibited. Please contact me to discuss licensing. Interface is based on Lightbox JS, created by Lokesh Dhakar.