I Hate Autograph Collectors (and that probably includes you)

I've really gotten disillusioned with autograph collectors over the years. Let me explain all my anger in this blog.

Most recently, a few autograph collectors were going to the Bruce Spingsteen concerts in Los Angeles. I wanted to meet up with them, buy 'em lunch, and talk about our best scores and biggest disappointments. It's sharing those stories that makes this website so much fun.

One person didn't get back to me. Another said, "I'm going to be on the autograph hunt all week." Uh, so what? You don't have an hour to have a meal with me? Or, my girlfriend, who is the biggest Springsteen fan in the world (and from Jersey, where you're required to be a Springsteen fan), would've loved to have gotten a signature. And this guy didn't tell me where to go at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. I found out he got the autograph. He has a bunch of Bruce...but he couldn't hook me up.

So many times I've been waiting to get an autograph, and a REAL FAN comes over (not one of the collectors, or eBay dealers). I've often given them an album to get signed, and they're thrilled. It's no skin off my back (albums aren't worth much money), and it creates a nice vibe. In fact, it makes the celebrity feel better to hear from the real fans. They can hear/see the ones going ga-ga over them, as oppose to the collectors or dealers, that have a bunch of 8x10 photos. Those folks also push to the front.

There's a dealer in San Diego that I had a love/hate relationship with. Since he was strictly about selling his autographs, he had a great philosophy. Let the fans get theirs first, and he'd be the last one in line, asking to have a guitar or pickguard from a guitar, signed. Although the celebs usually knew he was a dealer, but it didn't hurt the vibe, because all of the fans were already taken care of.

Another guy in San Diego named Dana, is a trust fund dude. Got a lot of money from his folks, lives in a nice house, and rolls up in his yellow Mercedes, and cuts to the front of the line. I've seen so many times -- with B.B. King or Link Wray (right before he died), where he got the autograph, on multiple items (including guitars), while the star got tired of signing his items, and told the rest of us "No more autographs." He would smile and leave. I've seen him at concerts, where he brings his incredible collection of Fillmore posters, and he forces his way to the front of the line. He often pays people to get backstage, too. Once I saw him backstage and called him over. He's a guy I had hooked up a few times. Of course, he couldn't be bothered to take an item back for me. Yet the amount of times I've done that for others (since I often have a press pass)...I can't tell you how many times I've done that.

On this website, I see so many people posting a picture with an autograph, asking us to tell them if it's fake And we always do. Again, I'm hooking other people up with my opinions/expertise, and what do I get out of it?

In L.A., we all know those annoying autograph dealers. We see them at the same events. The African-American dude with the missing tooth, that smells bad. At least he tells some good stories, and he helped me get my Sgt. Pepper record back (after calling me an idiot for letting it out of my hands). A few other regulars in L.A., pushed up front to get Patti Smith. They didn't even know who this legendary singer/songwriter/poetess is. She signed multiple items for these dealers, that showed up five minutes before she arrived (I drove up from San Diego...a two hour drive...waited an hour, only to have her turn us down by the door. And we were the real fans).

I remember at Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs), two fans drove up from Phoenix. They were 20 years old, and nervous about approaching her. They felt it would be rude. I got her autograph (she's never been friendly with autograph requests, but signs reluctantly). After she signed my two CDs, I pointed out the young couple. I told her, "These guys drove here from Phoenix. They are huge fans. They felt it would be rude to bother you. Can you go over and say hi to them?" She frowned, but walked over to them. She signed their ticket stubs, took photos, and they couldn't stop thanking me. And I did something similar with the singer of The Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan). I'm not a big fan, but had a cover of The Rolling Stone that I had him sign. I only went because my friend from Chicago (where they're from) wanted to meet him. Again, there was a 16-year-old that flew into San Diego from Seattle just to see the show. He was nervous about meeting Corgan, so I did the introduction. Corgan couldn't have been sweeter, talking to the guy about where he was from, signing his ticket stub, and taking a photo with him.

At a Foreigner concert, I had three albums with me. A couple in their 50s came up, and when the tour bus approached, they couldn't believe they were seeing Lou Gramm (singer) and guitar legend Mick...oh crap, can't remember his name. They said, "We wish we would've known they would be hear. We would've brought something." I handed them an album, which they got signed.

At an Al Stewart (Year of the Cat, Time Passages) concert, he said he'd sign autographs after the show. I had two albums, and I did what I usually do -- I bought the new CD he was selling. The people behind me were so mad they didn't think to bring their album, that I gave them one of mine. They couldn't stop thanking me. As I got to my car an hour later with my girlfriend, they had followed me. The guy gave me $25. I told him not to, but he said, "That will cover your cost of buying his new CD. You made our night."

Come on, people. Be nicer to fellow collectors. We don't want to be lumped into the same category as the annoying paparazzi. And, if you make friends with your fellow collectors -- you'll hear great stories, get good tips, and we can all help each other out. Just like how we're doing in that thread where we talk about people signing on their websites if you order their new music.

Views: 1365

Tags: 10,000 Maniacs, Al Stewart, B.B. King, Billy Corgan, Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Merchant, Smashing Pumpkins

Comment by Paul on March 17, 2016 at 6:42pm
Ricky gervais has some nice things to say about ip autograph collectors.
Post the pepper!
Comment by Brian Burger on March 17, 2016 at 6:45pm

Too late we already are lumped into the paparazzi....ebay and dealers are killing the hobby. A guy stands next to me with a stack of 11 x 14's. multiple pick guards, or 40 albums and I'm lumped into the same category because I'm holding one album and standing there too.. I have seen this numerous times even though I collect and do not sell.

Comment by Josh Board on March 17, 2016 at 6:46pm

What does Gervais say? I'd love to know.

The Sgt Pepper thing reminds me of another example. This guy on this site, kept hounding me for photos of a Magical Mystery Tour album I have signed by Ringo, and a poster I have signed by Ringo. He kept going on and on and I asked him why? He never had a real good reason. Something about wanting to purchase one. I asked how much he'd offer if he liked my items (even though I hate selling, but do trade). He never answered. It makes me wonder...was he going to forge? I friend was waiting for McCartney, and Sir Paul signed for them all. Then, one of these dealers, was in his car forging signatures from the real one he just got (and he may have gotten a photo of Paul signing, too). It's stuff like that that's frustrating!!!!

Comment by Josh Board on March 17, 2016 at 6:48pm

BB -- you bring up a good point, and I'll give you a suggestion. Something I've said to those guys is, "You realize, when they see all that...they're going to be turned off, thinking we're all dealers. Can't you let us get our stuff signed first, then you can bombard them with your drum heads and pickguards?" Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't...but I at least shame them a bit. Sometimes (on two occasions), I've said to the celebrity "Sign for us first, we're the fans. You can hook the guy up with the 8x10s after us."

Comment by Adam Halloran on March 17, 2016 at 6:51pm
I know Nick was looking for a Ringo to add Paul onto, if that is who you are talking about he isn't a forger.
Comment by Paul on March 17, 2016 at 7:00pm
RingO ringo.
Ricky rips us apart in his stand up skit about having a comb over etc being fat ..
In Australia we dont have that kind of autograph culture hustle and bustle.
The most people ive seen waiting to see a performer was Eddie vedder backstage.
Comment by Coachgd on March 17, 2016 at 7:04pm

Josh- I couldn't agree more!  There is nothing wrong with being friendly with other collectors.  I've seen the worst out of people in this hobby.  The attitude of "it's all about me" and I don't care who I shove out of the way to "get mine."  No matter how many items they have, they have to be first and they want to see the artist "rack." 

One of the best things about this hobby is hearing other peoples stories.  I love to hear the hits and misses.  

If I ever get back to San Diego, I would have lunch with you for sure.  

Comment by Josh Board on March 17, 2016 at 7:41pm

I'll be looking forward to that, Coach.

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply the Ringo cat was a forger, just making a point. He kept hounding me, and I wasn't sure why. And he never answered my last email on the subject.

I was dating a woman who had moved here from Germany. She was a baseball fanatic. Here in San Diego -- Tony Gwynn was a God (RIP Tony). He always signed. So, he was coaching San Diego State, and we went to a game. He was going to the stands signing, and she was thrilled about getting her ticket stub signed. But after this one guy jumped in front of us, Tony said "I've already signed 7 items for you. Let other people have a chance." The guy didn't back up, but stood Tony walked away. My girlfriend was crushed. And again, I can come up with 100 stories like this (and when I think of them, I'll keep posting them on this thread).

Comment by Adam Halloran on March 17, 2016 at 8:02pm
I don't wish to hijack this thread with the Ringo situation, but on this thread you made mention on be willing to sell the Magical Mystery Tour album.

I am sure he was just excited, since he is looking to try to add Paul McCartney on a Ringo piece this summer. I don't personally think it is unreasonable to wish to see what the signature looks like before making an offer to purchase.

Nick is a good guy and one of the younger ones on AML. I just didn't want to see him painted with a wide brush because you did make mention of possibly selling something he is looking for...
Comment by Rich on March 18, 2016 at 6:59am

I usually bring a vinyl (or buy one at the merch stand) after the shows I go to and then wait around. At some more recent pop shows (Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen), I brought 11 x 14s.  It feels like having photos (as opposed to artist/band merch) is more likely to tag you as a seller.  I made it a point to ask Carly and Charli to personalize both. Not only does it let them know you're a fan, but in many instances it means you'll get a nicer autograph and a nice, personalized message. 


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