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Missed Opportunities -- The Autographs That Slipped Through My Fingers

We all have those stories about the person we approached for an autograph and got turned down. I thought I'd do a slightly different blog on this. It's the autographs I didn't get, because of something that was my own fault. They'll be in a random order, of how they come to me.
While working in radio in the early '90s, Pete Townshend was coming to La Jolla, only 15 minutes from my radio station, to work on what would be the live version of Tommy. I got press credentials and was told I'd have 15 minutes in which to interview him. I knew I couldn't bring all my Who albums, but I brought my favorite Annie Lebowitz photo. I figured one autograph wouldn't be a problem. Well, I couldn't find the theatre. I drove around and around the UCSD campus and couldn't find it, so I just went home. Then at the opening of the play, all 3 members of The Who walked out of their limo. I had a Who CD with me, but I choked up and felt rude asking them.
Getting nervous doesn't really happen to me, but the vibe just felt weird. Lots of rich people in suits, on opening night, and I panicked. I didn't want to be "that guy."
Justin Timberlake, well, I've never been a fan of his dance tunes. He's a decent actor, though. He was playing a small club in town (House of Blues) and since a Rolling Stone magazine I had gotten recently had him on the cover, I figured I'd bring it down for an autograph. I was telling one of my autograph buddies and he said, "I got him in San Francisco. He said to me, 'You're the only guy waiting here to meet me. Are you gay or something?" He felt weird with him asking that, but told me Timberlake said "I'm just messin' with ya" and signed his CD.
So, I see a long line of people waiting to get into the venue. I'm at the side, where the musicians enter. A security guy comes out that was about 6'5" all muscle, and no neck. I hear him say "Okay, so he's arriving in two minutes, right?"
I take out my Sharpie, pop the cap off, and I conveniently hide it by my side. If people see ya standing there with a pen, it's not good form. They make sure to avoid you. I open the magazine like I'm reading it. So....three black Cadillac Escalades pull up. He gets out, with about 4 body guards. He slowly walks right by me, nods his head. I nod my head. But...I didn't ask for the autograph. I'm not really sure why. And the worst part? The Sharpie made this huge black mark all over my jeans.
A similar thing happened to me at the same venue. I'm a huge Joan Jett fan. I had gotten her before at a signing she was doing, where you paid $5 for a photo (can't beat that price). Well, I brought the one album I had (which is signed by the photographer of the album cover, the well known Mick Rock). It's the "I Love Rock n Roll" record. Also brought a CD. Well, the last time I saw her, she had blonde hair. So, I walk to the venue and she's walking out. But, it looked like the old Jett, with jet black hair (no pun intended), so I wasn't sure it was her. She said hi to me, I said hi back. She yelled back asking where the driver was. I was trying to figure out if it was her or not. There was about 10 seconds of us standing there, and the one thing I hate is...asking somebody for an autograph that IS NOT the person I thought it was. So I wanted to be sure. It wasn't until she jumped into the limo that I realized...yes, that was her, you dumb ass!
At that same House of Blues, I had no intention of getting KISS guitarist Peter Chris. There are about 250 bands I like more than KISS, although I do own a few albums. It's my friends favorite band, so I brought him up there and assured him we'd get the autograph.
So, we show up. The only place to park was metered. After waiting an hour, I needed to go put more change in the meter about four blocks away (one of my autograph buddies always gets parking tickets, which to me, makes the whole experience not worth it). While I was gone, he rolled up with his dad, in a sporty Mercedes. He told the crowd of 10 "Only one autograph per person." My friend was stoked to get his solo album signed. I was ... not as stoked. I walked up after he was already in the venue. His dad stood outside, holding court with the few fans left. Well, he really hit it off with one dude that had a bunch of albums. He brought that guy backstage and got all his albums signed. I got nothing.
Guitar legend Jeff Beck. I had gotten him at two venues in the past. One of those was because I was backstage in L.A. He wasn't the friendliest (but he has a sweet signature, and he's an amazing guitarist, although sometimes too jazzy for my tastes). Well, one time I showed up downtown and I was with my Maltese. I had adopted him at the shelter a few months previously, and was walking him around. I see him walk by me downtown. I wasn't positive it was him, until he got closer. He smiled, and I smiled. I was going to say, "Are you Jeff Beck?" I didn't, and didn't get he signature. I did watch as he walked down the block, and hopped into the tour bus. An hour later...he came out of the bus, there were 25 fans, and he waved, but didn't stop to sign for anybody. I have no doubt he would've signed for me and my puppy.
Now, with the NAMM festival recently wrapping up in Anaheim (it's a convention for music merchants, and lots of musicians show up). My friend went, and got Aerosmith guitarist (I got their drummer one year there), Twisted Sister, and a few other heavy metal guitarists he likes. Well, I saw funk legend George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic. Well, he's walking around with his different colored hair, and I remembered this guy Darrell I worked with, telling me that's his favorite all-time singer. So, I asked for an autograph for him. He personalized it, and drew a cool caricature of himself, with X's over the eyes. It was awesome. Well, I decided later...I wanted his autograph, too. At that point, I couldn't find him. The weirdest part of that was...when I gave the autograph to Darrell, he didn't seem to care all that much. He gave a nonchalant "Hey, thanks," after first asking if it was real.
Kenny Rogers -- not the biggest fan, but he's a country music legend. I had free tickets, and went and bought a $1 album at a used record store. My friend went with me. We waited an hour. I went to my car to get something, and during that few minutes, his manager came out and said, "If you guys give me your stuff, I'll take it on the bus. He'll sign one for each of you."
I came back, with my friend excitedly telling me this. When the manager came back out, handing them their stuff, I asked if he'd take my record on the bus. He said, "No. I can't keep doing this all afternoon."
Norah Jones had come out with an amazing, jazzy first album. I immediately bought it. Well, when she came to town, at a rather small venue, I brought the CD. Again, I had to feed the meter, and that's when she showed up and signed autographs. This time, I had given my CD to a friend of mine in case she showed up. So, she did sign it and personalize it for me. Problem was...when I was at the show that night, it fell out of my back pocket. Now, I'm not sure how in the hell I got this lucky, but a sound guy at that venue that knew me, found it on the floor, and saved it for me. A few months later, he said "I got something for you." I was thrilled when he handed it over.
Now, he had gotten me a few autographs. Since he worked at the venue, I didn't like to use him that much. A few times, I hooked him up with nice gift cards, or one time, I bought him 25 cases of a variety of beer (it cost me well over $100). I wanted him to know I appreciated all the hook ups (Brian Wilson and Mike Love said no, but he took my record back and got it signed...only to have their manager scream at him saying "That guy is an autograph dealer, not a fan."). So, I liked to show my appreciation. Well, a few bands he got signed for me (Nick Cave and Cat Power -- they personalized it. TO HIM! Oh well).
At the TV station I do movie reviews on, local football legend Marshall Faulk was coming in. He had come in a handful of times, and this time I was determined to get him. I show up, wait in the green room. I brought a friend who is a huge Rams fan, and he had a football signed by 7 players. We were both so excited. Well, a black man comes into the green room to sit down. They tell him his segment will be in 20 minutes. I ask if he'll sign my football card. He looks at me rather angrily and says, "I'm not Marshall Fault." I laughed, thinking he was pulling my leg. He said, "Really, I'm not."
Turns out, he was the guest before Fault, and boy did he look a lot like him. We waited another hour, only to find out Faulk forgot that he had a previous engagement. So, we woke up, drove down, and embarrassed ourselves for nothing.

Views: 986

Tags: Cat Power, George Clinton, Jeff Beck, Joan Jett, Kenny Rogers, Kiss, Marshall Faulk, Nick Cave, Pete Townshend, Peter Criss, More…The Who

Comment by Chad B on January 29, 2016 at 12:18pm

I went up to an mma fighter I thought was Patrício Freire for an autograph. In what I believe was a cross between Portugese and English he informed me that wasn't him on the picture. The person I approached was his brother Patricky Freire who in fairness to me has the same nickname and looks quite similar. I still felt like an idiot.

Comment by Pete Bendu on January 29, 2016 at 12:57pm

Back in the end of the 1990's and early 2000's, I quit my job, I was single and my parents were still healthy, so I spent a good chunk of time hitting Talk shows and premieres in NYC. I would usually do this when someone I really wanted was making an appearance at one venue and I would spend the remainder of the night hitting the other spots where celebs would be going in or out.

The number of people I just didn't get either because I didn't have an interest in stopping them or bothering to scramble after them for an autograph is just sick.

David Carradine, Lauren Bacall, Doc Gooden, Patrick Swayze, Christopher Plummer, Armand Assante, Kurt Vonnegut (I wasn't sure if it was him), Kate Moss, Sam Robards, Jordana Brewster, Jude Law, Darius Rucker, Elmer Bernstein, Julianne Moore, Richard Gere, Taye Diggs, Lawrence Fishburne, Peter Boyle, Ralph Macchio, and on and on.

The failure that really hurts is that a young 15 or 16 year old girl, at a number of these events, was ignored (for the most part) by the paparazzi as well as all the autograph collectors. Lost in Translation was still 3 years away, and Iron Man 2 was almost 10 years into the future. Young Scarlett Johansson was a regular on the NYC scene back then, and I am sure she would have loved to sign some autographs. She isn't very interested in signing anymore.    

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Admin on January 29, 2016 at 2:08pm

That, Pete, wins the award as the most surprising comment of the week. Love it!

Comment by Pete Bendu on January 29, 2016 at 2:19pm

I could have had piles of these

but I have to settle now for these 

Comment by Adam Halloran on January 29, 2016 at 2:27pm
Well her signature got worse...But I would still rather have THOSE pictures!! ;)
Comment by Paul on January 29, 2016 at 2:44pm
She has a twin brother.
Comment by Joe W. on January 29, 2016 at 2:56pm

The ones you "settled for" are very beautiful but the autograph collector in me would want the earlier signatures. Of course, I wouldn't complain about any of them. All of them are grrrrrrreat!

Comment by Janice Knechtel on January 30, 2016 at 7:28am

My biggest missed opportunity was, I was at a concert of Garth Brooks when he first came out. He was playing at a county fair, that is how long ago this was. As we were stalking out his bus, a young girl, who we assumed was his opening act came out to talk to us. We had the greatest conversation, but had no idea who she was, so i didn't get her autograph. That girl was Trisha Yearwood. I could kick myself to this day for not getting that autograph. 

Comment by J.Seah on January 30, 2016 at 7:56am

My wife was in Las Vegas last year for a convention. She had just finished having dinner with her girlfriend when she spotted Sean Connery nearby and she went up to him and asked " Excuse me! Are you Sean Connery?" He answered " Yes I Am" There was someone else besides Sean Connery and he asked my wife " Do you know me?? " And my wife answered " Sorry!! No"  He said " This always happens when I am with you Sean !!! " The man besides Sean Connery was Robert De Niro!!! My wife and her girlfriend joined them for a drink and chatted with them.When she told me about this encounter when she got home. My first response to her was " You did not get their autographs for me!!!! " :( :(  Well she did not even get a selfie with them. :)

Comment by Joe W. on January 30, 2016 at 8:00am

Wow! Sean Connery and Robert De Niro. Talk about some big names getting away.

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