When the Ramones played New England in the 1980s, they’d sometimes pop into RR Auction in Amherst, N.H., to buy autographs, says Bobby Livingston.
“Joey bought the Rolling Stones. John bought baseball autographs,” according to Livingston, executive vice president of RR Auction, which has its headquarters in Boston. Ironically, the Ramones’ own autographs now adorn some items in a veritable “history of punk” on auction in Boston.
The rock rarities are part of the collection of Daniel Rey — a Ramones guitarist and producer who co-wrote “Pet Sematary.” Rey and Monte A. Melnick, longtime Ramones’ road manager, will be on hand for the live auction Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Newbury hotel, according to Livingston. Public viewing starts at 11 a.m. The online auction is open now.
“The history of punk music is in the Daniel Rey Collection,” Livingston said.
Among the gems: Johnny Ramone’s black and white Mosrite Ventures II guitar, his main ax from November 1977 through August 1996 — with the battle scars to prove it. It was sent to Boston from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame via Rey, said Livingston.
“That guitar has been through the wars. There’s chips all over the place. No other guitar in rock has been played for 25 years constantly by a famous person. The only one I can think of is Willie Nelson’s guitar,” Livingston said.
He called it “a major piece of rock history.” Collectors seem to think so too: As of midday Monday, bidding was at $275,000.
“In the middle of Fleetwood Mac and Journey, the Ramones show up and play three chords. Kids see this and decide: I can do that,” says Livingston. “This is the Johnny Appleseed of guitars that grew Metallica, Nirvana, Green Day — they’re all born of watching this guitar.”
There’s also “an insanely rare” stage-used Electro-Harmonix Mike Matthews Freedom Amp, one of two ever made, according to the auction description. “We plugged that in, and it is the sound of punk rock. It cranks,” Livingston said. “The settings are there where Johnny played it.”
None of the band’s four original members is alive today. Joey Ramone died in 2001, Dee Dee Ramone in 2002, Johnny Ramone in 2004, and Tommy Ramone in 2014.
Among other items up for bidding: posters, invitations, Joey Ramone’s stage-used microphones from the final Ramones concert, and hand-written lyrics.
A bit of whimsy is seen in Dee Dee’s hand-drawn map of the Chelsea Hotel basement. There’s also a Beatles watch — a gift from Joey Ramone to Rey. The box is inscribed in black ballpoint: “To Daniel the 5th Ramone Enjoy! Your mate Joey Ramone.”
According to the auction description, Rey “retrieved the cross from the floor after Pop had leaned over the stage and an excited female fan had ripped it from his neck.” According to Livingston, Rey “wrote to Iggy and said, I’ve got your cross, and Iggy said: Keep it.”