We're very lucky in New York to have a large variety of concerts to attend and/or collect autographs at on any given day. We are equally lucky to have such an amazing variety of venues to do so at. One popular venue is BB King's Blues Grill in Times Square. The club is often a venue for tribute bands, but, on occasion, some of rock and roll's true legends perform there. In fact, in the past year, just by waiting at the stage door there, I have gotten in-person glimpses of the three surviving members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's inaugural class. That's the good news. Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain autographs from any of them for various reasons. Last June, Little Richard came to BB King's for a show. The Architect of Rock and Roll arrived 3 1/2 hours before his performance was scheduled to begin. When his car pulled up, I was surprised to see the legendary pianist in a wheelchair. Therefore, when I asked for an autograph, I really wasn't surprised when Little Richard's handlers just wheeled him backstage. In September, Chuck Berry was in town. I had heard many nasty things about the "Johnny B. Goode" performer, including the fact that he hires backup bands on the assumption that they know his music, and that he demands to be paid IN FULL by promoters well in advance of his concert. Mr. Berry arrived about an hour before he was scheduled to go on. There were about four other collectors there waiting. There's actually an alternate entrance backstage at the club-but one has to pass through a neighboring restaurant to do so. That being said, as Mr. Berry completely ignored us on his way to the "secret" entry, we followed him into the restaurant. He kept ignoring us until, when he finally went into the private areas, a female companion of his snapped at us, demanding that we leave him alone. Mr. Berry's shows are notoriously short, lasting only 45 minutes even with an opening act like there was that night. However, Mr. Berry stayed backstage for almost an hour after the concert had ended. When he finally came out, he walked briskly into his car and ignored us again. Just yesterday, Jerry Lee Lewis performed at the venue. He arrived about two hours before his show. "The Killer" seemed quite frail as he entered the building, but he did acknowledge us and wave. No autographs though. Mr. Lewis's performance are also quite short-this one lasted 75 minutes. As the crowds were still letting out, he immediately left the venue. He motioned as if he was about to sign, but security whisked him into his waiting car. As I mentioned, of the three performers that I met, Mr. Lewis was by far the friendliest. But the security at the venue probably just wanted him to leave so their job would be done. I'm trying to look on the bright side here: I got to meet three of the originators of rock, legends who are still so dedicated to their fans that they still tour. While brief, the encounters are three that I will always remember.
Bye for now,