White Whale Vinyl: The Damned's Expensive Joke | Revolver

White Whale Vinyl: The Damned's Expensive Joke

Inside rare "misprint" of U.K. punk pranksters' 1977 debut

Our weekly column "White Whale Vinyl" spotlights the most sought-after rare vinyl in the heavy-music universe. Shop for vinyl, including a selection of limited-edition Revolver-exclusive variants, via our store.

Though often outshined by the antics and infamy of their peers in the Sex Pistols, the Damned's 1977 debut Damned Damned Damned was the first U.K. punk album ever released. In fact, it beat the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks to the shelves by eight months. Boasting instant punk staples like "Neat Neat Neat" and "New Rose," the album also features an iconic sleeve photo in which Damned members Brian James, Captain Sensible, Dave Vanian and Rat Scabies had just been hit in the face with cream pies. 

It appears that getting their debut album out wasn't the only thing the Damned beat the Sex Pistols to. In 1980, the Pistols were the subject of a posthumous mockumentary entitled The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle. But the Damned — or at least their record label, Stiff Records — had pulled a pretty good swindle with Damned Damned Damned three years prior. Instead of the live photo of the Damned that appears on the back cover of almost every copy of the album, some copies were released with a promotional photo of British pub rockers Eddie & the Hotrods.


Stiff acknowledged the mistake, slapping a sticker on the back of the misprinted albums: "Erratum: Due to Record Company error, a picture of Island recording artists Eddie & the Hot Rods has been printed instead of The Damned. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and the correct picture will be substituted on future copies." Though it was a matter of much debate for years, it's now widely accepted that the misprint wasn't actually a misprint at all: It was a deliberate joke.


Either way, these particular copies of Damned Damned Damned go for big bucks. And if you're looking for one in the original shrink wrap with the red "Damned Damned" lettering on it — thus completing the Damned Damned Damned of the title when combined with the "Damned" on the sleeve itself — expect to pay even more. Misprints with no shrink go for at least $400. If it's still in the shrink, though? You're looking at anywhere from one to two thousand — or more — depending on condition. In November of 2020, a sealed mint copy sold on Discogs for $2,142.86.

Now that's an expensive joke.