When I started working my first radio job, I was still going to college. Since I was majoring in journalism, I was thrilled that I got so lucky. I had been writing jokes for a morning show, without being paid, and was able to parlay that into being the producer and head writer for that morning show. That eventually lead to me being a co-host of the morning show and doing other things at the radio station. Obviously, working at a popular radio station helps enhance your autograph collection. The amount of bands that came in was endless. Most of the DJs just liked selfies. I didn’t care about the photos. I prefered the signatures.
In my first six months there, I got my Cream album “Disraeli Gears” signed by singer/bassist Jack Bruce. I would’ve gotten by Love “Forever Changes” album signed by Arthur Lee, but he was so whacked out on drugs, it didn’t happen. We couldn’t even interview him on the air. In my first week at the radio station, I lost out on a cool autograph because I wasn’t aggressive enough. It involved a 3-piece rockabilly / pop band I loved -- The Stray Cats. They were huge, and were going to be playing at the opening of a Hard Rock Cafe in town. All the big cheeses at my radio station got an invite to the event, which was by invitation only. I hinted around to my news director about wanting to go, but he wasn’t picking up on it. I then thought about asking one of my co-workers to take an album to get signed for me; but I didn’t know them that well, and who wants to saddle somebody with carrying around a record all night? That’s one of the things I liked about CDs when they came out. It’s so much easier to carry a CD sleeve in a back pocket (although when I brought one to a Stone Temple Pilots concert, I realized when I was backstage, it had fallen out of my pocket sometime during the show; I ended up not asking them to sign anything).
I didn’t get the Stray Cats signatures that night, but a few years later, I was able to get the drummer -- Slim Jim Phantom. He was in another band playing at some festival, and I brought a Stray Cats album for him to sign. About 8 years later, I got bassist Lee Rocker to sign it. He was with a rockabilly band that was playing at a tiny Mexican restaurant in town. It was an amazing show, and he was signing merchandise after the show. I bought his new CD, which is always a move I wish more autograph collectors would do. These musicians hate signing all the old albums you have, when you aren’t even buying their new products. The only time I regret doing that was for Michael McDonald (The Doobie Brothers). That was because the new CD I bought was $20, and it was awful. It was just painful to see all these people waiting in line for him at a bookstore, only to watch him sign 10 Doobie albums for somebody that didn’t buy the new CD he was there to approach. That’s another story for another time.
The quest to get singer/guitarist Brian Setzer was a lot harder. I had tickets about 5 years after that, to see him perform at a big venue in town. My friend brought a CD for him to sign. We were standing by the back entrance, and he showed up driving a yellow hot rod with flames on it. He waved to us, and we asked him to sign. He said he’d come back outside to sign but he never did. Or maybe he did, but we were already inside for the show.
Another time, at the NAMM festival in Anaheim, he was at a booth for Gretsch guitars. I didn’t realize that, until my friend came back with an item signed by him. I went over there, and he had already left. That’s probably best, since I didn’t even have the Stray Cats album with me.
Years and years went by, and since he formed his Brian Setzer Orchestra, he’s still a top draw. It’s hard to get an autograph from somebody playing the big venues, so I gave up. I was relegated to the fact that I’d never get the third and final signature on my Stray Cats album.
Well, I met a teenager girl at a work related thing. She’s a bass player, and we started talking about music. She told me about a local band her dad was in called Big Time Operator. I had seen them before, and they’re amazing. But it wasn’t just the fact that I had seen this great band before. It’s the fact that her dad Kevin Esposito is a trombonist in Brian Setzer’s band. I immediately asked her if her dad would get my album signed. She didn’t think it would be a problem, and a broached the subject with the man himself. He said he would. He told me others in the band have had things signed, and they give them to the manager and he takes them to Setzer, who signs them all. I was a bit worried, because I have lost pieces in the past I’ve been trying to complete. That’s also another blog for another time.