The Vinyl Collector: The Thrilling Rumors of Vinyl Purchasing

By Alex Mosier

"200 Motels," the vinyl record from Frank Zappa, sells for much more than "Rumors" by Fleetwood Mac or Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

“200 Motels” by Frank Zappa.

Looking through a box of vinyl records at a local thrift shop, I came across three albums that I had to have: Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, Thriller by Michael Jackson and 200 Motels by Frank Zappa. 

After some brief negotiation with the owner, we agreed on a bulk price of $12 for the three of them.  I could not help but think that it was a steal considering that 2 out of the 3 are in the top 10 selling albums of all time.  The third, even though it wasn’t a major contender in record sales, was still Frank Zappa.

When I got home, I made sure to play each one the whole way through to make sure there were no warps to them and they played right. After evaluating them, I hopped online to check out the value of the albums.  First, I checked out Thriller, and to my surprise, in mint condition, this album was only selling for $10 at best. As confused as I was by this, I moved on to Rumors. This record was only selling for $6 or less. This was getting a little off putting.

Reluctantly, I did a little research on Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. To my surprise, this one was selling for around $50.  How could this be? How would two of the highest selling and most sought after albums of all time be worth next to nothing while a moderately popular album was worth so much? Checking multiple sites, they all had the same result; Rumors and Thriller are virtually worthless while 200 Motels is worth a small fortune.

Finally, it clicked in my head. Thriller had sold 42.4 million confirmed copies and Rumors had 26.8 confirmed sales. There were so many of these albums printed that they no longer had rarity to them. Being hard to find equates to greater value than popularity of the album. More often than not, the lesser known records are far more valuable than the household names.

Also see:

The Vinyl Collector: The Album I Couldn’t Give Away

The Vinyl Collector: For Music, Not Money