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.