Valuable 80s Vinyl Records You Might Still Have

You may love your MTV, but we love these valuable rocking albums from the '80s.

Published February 23, 2023

The 1980s was a decade of decadence, and the Me Generation spared no expense when it came to listening to music. From waiting in line for dirt-cheap concert tickets to finding the loudest underground band in the record store stacks, music in the '80s was a religious experience and everyone was a devout parishioner. The most valuable 80s vinyl records today include hits you'd never expect and pressings you just might have in your old record stash.

Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet
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Bon Jovi was one of the hair metal bands that had the broadest appeal, and they completed multiple world tours over the decades. In the 1980s, bands were really breaking onto the eastern market, and East Asian vinyl pressings are particularly valuable today. Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet is one of these. The 1986 album is the band's biggest hit from the '80s, but the Japanese release features different cover art. Instead of the title written in a dewy window, a drenched woman stands wearing a cut-up tank top with the title on it. Worth about $50-$100, one copy with the inserts intact sold for $100 on eBay.

Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction
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In 1987, Guns N' Roses released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. Little did we know that the iconic skull cross cover wasn't the band's intended album art. In fact, the album was named after the cartoon illustration that "lowbrow" cartoonist Robert Williams sold in 1981. It imagined a chaotic scene of brutalization, with one large, indiscernible red monster flying after a futuristic robot in a trench coat who had just assaulted a young woman. The subversive and graphic cover was printed on the first pressings in the United States, but was quickly pulled from shelves. Today, these albums can sell for about $200-$350. One sealed copy sold for $270 online.

Prince's Let's Go Crazy Single
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Prince was such a musical legend that he only needed one name to describe himself. The 1980s was a lucrative decade for Prince, both financially and creatively. His album and subsequent concept film Purple Rain changed what a rock musician was expected to look like and sound like. Released in 1984, the movie was so well-received that it won the Oscar for best soundtrack. Now, you can find original records of Purple Rain everywhere you look, but finding the singles is harder.

Singles are albums with one song on the A-side and one on the B-side. People don't tend to hold onto singles as much as they do full records, so some singles are worth a lot to serious collectors. Prince's "Lets Go Crazy/Erotic City" single is one of these rare ones. Currently, one completely sealed vinyl is listed for almost $250 on Etsy.

Fast Fact

The soundtrack to the movie, Purple Rain, spent 24 weeks at the top of charts.

Motley Crue's Stick to Your Guns Single

Motley Crue's reputation precedes it. From fatal overdoses and lethal car crashes to entire arena brawls, this band pushed boundaries people didn't even know they had. An early contributor to the metal movement, the Crue really hit it big with their sophomore album, Shout at the Devil. Because of their infamy, the early stuff published from their own record label, Leather Records, is considered the Holy Grail as only a few copies were ever released.

Only 1,000 copies of their 1981 single "Stick to Your Guns/Toast of the Town" were ever made, and one person who'd been personally gifted the album by lead singer, Vince Neil, recently sold it on eBay for $1,200, while another copy recently sold for $1,000 online.

Queen's The Game Signed Album
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If you really want to hit the lottery with a vintage record, you need to find ones that were signed by artists, producers, managers, and other famous figures. Authenticated signatures automatically up the value, no matter what the record is. The more popular the person is, the more valuable their signature's going to be. This catapults prices when you're talking about people who've passed away.

For example, Queen's 1980 album, The Game, isn't worth much on its own. But, if you have a copy with the band's signatures on it, then you're looking at values closer to $200-$300. Freddie Mercury's signatures are worth a lot because he's been dead for many years, and John Deacon's (the band's bassist) signatures are hard to come by since he left the limelight years ago. Currently, there is one of these albums on Etsy listed for $265.

Metallica's Master of Puppets
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If you weren't a fan of Metallica's song "Master of Puppets," then Stranger Things season four converted you. This was the title track for their 1986 album, which was their third studio release and one of their greatest legacies. Even first pressings of Metallic's third album aren't worth a ton of money without something like a signature. Promo albums are also something to keep an eye out for because they're released in fewer quantities to drum up interest in the coming music.

Finding any promo for Master of Puppets will make it worth a few hundred dollars, with one American promo copy selling for $659.99.

Michael Jackson's Thriller Single
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If you had to name one song from the 1980s, chances are very high you'd name Michael Jackson's "Thriller." The album, Thriller, rocked the world in 1982, not only because of the sheer number of smash hits to come off of it, but also for the dance craze included in the music video that teens could imitate everywhere. Because it was such a popular album, vintage copies aren't worth anything, except for the rare single LP.

By the time Thriller was released, the album itself was such a smash hit that people just bought the album with all of the songs instead of wasting extra money on owning just a single. This makes these old singles worth quite a bit. Couple that with an autograph from the late King of Pop, and you've got something worth thousands. This signed single in fair condition sold on eBay for $1,184.19.

Signs Your '80s Albums Could be Worth Something
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Music was prolific in the 1980s, and just because some of your special albums didn't make this list doesn't mean that they're not worth anything. To the right collector and with the right characteristics, you could have a money-maker on your hand.

  • Look for promotional copies. Anything that's been released ahead of the album as promotional material is pretty rare and worth some money.
  • Find albums from international markets. American and European albums just aren't as hard to find as ones from other regions of the world. East Asia and South America, in particular, received some great limited releases in the 1980s.
  • Check to see if the album is sealed. Unopened albums are almost unheard of, so finding one with low release numbers can lead to a high price tag.
  • Always keep an eye out for autographed albums. Autographs carry their own value, and so they'll double, triple, or even quadruple a vintage record's value just because it's there.

The '80s Vinyl Records Made for Display

Music in the 1980s really broadened in scope. From New Wave to Hair Metal and everywhere in-between, artists were experimenting with their sound and their looks. World tours and massive arenas redefined what the live music experience could be like. But at the heart of it all were the albums that you spent all of your teenage wages on. These 80s vinyl records are collectible in their own right, but some special copies take the cake for being worth way more than you would've ever imagined.

Remember 45s? Some 45 RPM records are pretty valuable, too.

Valuable 80s Vinyl Records You Might Still Have