I would’ve never expected my fantasy football draft to yield some autograph surprises. It was much needed, because I wasn’t thrilled with the 5th pick in the draft (meaning I wasn’t going to get one of those top four running backs). I could talk fantasy football for days straight, but this is an autograph site. So, let’s get to it.
The guy that has the draft at his huge house overlooking the ocean, well...he’s getting divorced. That means they’re selling the house and it was completely void of all furniture. He did keep a table and chairs there, and a lamp. And, some autograph surprises for me. One of them was a letter from Arnold Schwarzenegger, from when his business did a fundraising event. It has the governors seal, and his autograph at the bottom. Although when I got it home, I had reason to believe it was autopen. Oh well.
He also had a number of albums signed by Ronnie Montrose. Unless you’re a hardcore rock fan, you probably don’t know him. And that’s a shame, because he’s one of the most underrated guitarists in rock history.
He did two albums with his band Montrose (that had Sammy Hagar on vocals). Once at a radio station I worked for, the DJ interviewing him made the mistake of asking about Hagar. Apparently that was a big no-no. And it makes sense. When you had success with a band, and your singer goes solo, and then joins Van Halen...you could be a bit bothered. Especially since his band Gamma never did much.
Montrose did appear on a number of studio records (I have two Van Morrison albums he’s on), as well as Gary Wright (Dream Weaver), Edgar Winter, and many others.
I asked how he got all these albums signed. He said, “Well, one day I heard on the radio how he was going to appear at this smoke shop. The DJ...her boyfriend or husband, owned the place. And he was doing a concert in town that night. So I show up at noon, and nobody is in the place. I thought I had the address wrong. Someone ended up coming out from the back asking if they could help me. I said ‘Isn’t Montrose supposed to be here?’” Upon hearing that, Ronnie comes out from the back. I said ‘I thought there was supposed to be an autograph signing going on here today.’ He replied, ‘There was, but...nobody showed up. You’re the only one.’ [anybody remember that autograph scene in This is Spinal Tap?]
He then signed all my albums, and even talked about some of the rare ones. One was a promotional album that he said was never even released. He said ‘By signing these, I’m going to make you a very rich man.”
I laughed. I said, “Maybe if it were Eddie Van Halen you would get rich, but not Ronnie Montrose.”
One thing that always surprises me about people with autographs that don’t collect...they either think they’re worth nothing, because it’s just a name scribbled on something; or, they think they’re worth a fortune. When I saw Ringo Starr with his first all-star band, I got backstage. A woman back there had an 8x10 photo signed by the Beatles. Her mom worked on the Ed Sullivan show when she was little, and she got a lot of autographs from the show. That was the only photo she kept (I know...I cringed, too). She said to me, “I could probably sell this for a million dollars.” I had to explain to her that...it would be one of the nicest sets of Beatles signatures around. All using the same pen, early examples of the signatures, and all signed on a part of the photo where you can clearly see them. But...the photo had creases in it (since she carried it around her purse to show everyone), and that even autographed Beatles albums weren’t selling for a million dollars. She didn’t believe me. Anywhooooo….
My friend told me at the show that night, he was in the front row, and Montrose said at one point “Hey Paul, nice to see you again.” And he’d look at him while he played some guitar solos. After the show they talked, and the management tried to eventually throw him out, until Montrose said, “He’s my guest, he doesn’t have to leave.” He stayed and talked to him for another few minutes, and Montrose gave him his number and website and told him to stay in touch. This after they talked about the many venues he had seen him perform at before (Including a place in L.A. called “the Kindergarten” because it used to be a school).
He lost the number, but found it years later in a desk drawer. When he called the number and sent emails, they went unanswered. Well, we live in a day of Google now. He Googled him and saw that Montrose had shot himself in the head. He apparently had life long depression, and was suffering from prostate cancer.
Anyway, I was so excited by the team I drafted, I forgot to take one of those albums with me. Now I’m afraid, if I beat him when our teams match up, he may never hand one over.