Rock and Roll Music has all the answers with unlimited powers.
No matter what is going on in your life, no matter how happy or sad, poor or rich, your political stand on just about anything, your new broken heart, looking for hope, or needing some compassion, someone has written about it, and someone has sang about it. The answers to just about everything are always found for me, within music.
It’s only Rock and Roll, but even as a young kid, I really liked it.
I grew up on L.A. radio listening to 93 KHJ, 95.5 KLOS, and the best radio station ever to exist on our planet, the late 94.7 KMET. Disc jockeys with names of Machine Gun Kelley, Jim Ladd, Ace Young, Jeff Gonzer, Real Don Steele, Paraquat Kelley, Frazier Smith, Bobby Ocean, Mary “The Burner” Turner, Dr. Demento, and my two all-time favorite DJ’s ever to have had the pleasure to listen to: Rita Wilde and Cynthia Fox.
I have seen some of rocks best concerts ever performed:
The Rolling Stones on the “Some Girls” and “Tattoo You” tours of 1978 and 1981, Cal Jam II, Styx “Paradise Theatre” tour, Supertramp’s “Breakfast In America” tour, Devo’s “Freedom Of Choice” tour, “The River” tour by Bruce Springsteen, The Pretenders at Perkins Palace in Pasadena ( original line up and yes, that was the show where Bruce Springsteen jumped on stage and sang “Higher and Higher”), Tom Petty, on “Hard Promises”, The US Festivals, Rush, Journey, Heart, Rod Stewart, Queen, Eric Clapton, AC/DC, Blue Oyster Cult, Mahogany Rush, KISS, and Roger Waters performing his 2012 version of “The Wall”.
I was addicted then, and still am to this day, on Rock and Roll concerts.
Here are 3 of my MORE enjoyable adventures:
ROBERT PLANT was in L.A. on May 16, 1995 for the Plant/Page No Quarter tour. He was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel on Doheny, in Beverly Hills.After a morning rain, he left the Four Seasons Hotel in a black convertible driving north on Doheny. I followed behind him, having both he and I stopped by the street light at Doheny and Santa Monica Blvd.
I put my truck in park knowing that anyone caught at this light has at least a 3-4 minute wait as this intersection takes forever. I walked up to the drivers side of his car with my stack of LP’s and asked Robert if he would sign. Looking perplexed and amazed, he stated that he would sign as long as the light was red. He said when the light turns green he is going that way (pointing north), and asked me which was I was going and I pointed that way (east on Santa Monica Blvd.). Robert replied, “good, I am not about to do this again”. Thank god for long traffic lights in L.A. Robert signed 9 autographs for me at that intersection.
Driving home that afternoon I knew I truly tapped the mother lode of Robert Plant encounters. Robert has signed for me on several other occasions, and I have over 40+ signatures from him. He even on the 1993 tour of “Fate of Nations” got out of his car and posed for some photographs that I took on the western residential area of Hollywood Blvd.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN the night of the taping of the MTV Unplugged, Bruce was at the Warner Brothers studios off of Santa Monica Blvd. Fans from all across the nation who had won tickets as a promo to the show were joined by a slew of media. This really was a big event. Not having a ticket, I bought one from a person in line who thought $200 was better in his pocket than a ticket into the show (cannot even begin to tell you how much and how many “tickets” and “passes” I have had to purchase in 20 years this way; well over $5000 easy…) Anyway, I was in. The video, in case you haven’t watched, does the performance no justice. The show was simply awesome. Bruce, was the best he could have been, less the E-Street Band.
After the show as Bruce was leaving, about an hour and a half I was still hanging around (not as easy as it sounds) and approached Bruce for an autograph. I had 3 LP’s with me. Bruce refused to sign saying, “I looked like a professional”. I replied to Bruce that I am a fan, and a collector, and that I really enjoyed his show. “If I sign for you, those will all be on sale on Melrose by 9:00am tomorrow”, was his next comment, after I asked yet again.
Bruce stated he does not sign for people that sell his autograph. I again replied to Bruce that if he would like, he could sign them to myself, and my wife and my 3 kids. “I doubt then Bruce if they would have any value of interest”, I further replied, asking him if he could just sign one.
Bruce along with his wife Patty were still in wait for their town car, so the conversation continued. “You know Bruce, I have a full time job. I collect autographs for hobby and collection.” Bruce replied that he heard that before. Then to my surprise Patty then gave him that wife nudge saying, “Bruce, just sign.” Grudgingly, not only did Bruce sign the one, he then signed all 3 (after giving me, or was it Patty, a huff and a puff under his breath).
PHIL COLLINS on June 29, 1990 in Knebworth England. Knebworth, is about 30 miles or so north of London, and the sight on the estate of the 500+ year old Lytton family manor. Knebworth has been hosting rock concerts on the family grounds by the family heiress Chryssie Lytton since 1974. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Queen, Deep Purple and a host of others have all been invited to play over the years. This year was the Sliver Cleff Award winners with bands such as Elton John, Paul McCartney Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Tears For Fears, and others were all to perform in an all day festival, the next day, June 30th. The entire Lytton family estate is something indeed out of an English fairy tale, or a setting for a romantic movie. It is a sight to see.
The day of rehearsals, June 29th, was still very much a set up day. Funny to think in less than 24 hours, 300,000+ people would be standing where today, there was only the bands warming up and worker bee’s buzzing about. I had already gotten Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page’s autograph, during these day before warm-ups. Also was my wife and I treated, to some very raw rehearsals (the first time live performance ever of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant performing “Wearing and Tearing”, and Paul McCartney singing “Happy Birthday”). All I had was writing paper (albums were all back home in the states) and Phil Collins was approaching the back of the stage. I went to ask Phil for an autograph, and as he happily said yes, I handed him the thick black marker, ink side up, making about a 4 inch line across the palm of his hand. Angrily, he looked me right in the eye and snapped at me, “Now how am I supposed to play the piano?” Just as fast he reversed his anger, then smiled at me and said, “No worries, it was an accident. I’ll get it washed.” I turned to start walking away, and he said, “Hey what about that autograph??”. He still signed for me. The appreciation from Phil Collins to me as a fan, black pen mark and all in hand, is one of my favorite stories to tell.
AND A BONUS ADVENTURE: The most generous of them all…
BRIAN MAY: It was Queen’s last album to be released while Freddie Mercury was still alive was 1991’s “Innuendo”. As a promo for it’s release, Brian May and Roger Taylor were making the radio station rounds, had a giant release party on the Queen Mary, and coincidentally, stopped off at the Rockline studios for an on air Q&A. The guys arrived about 45 minutes prior to the start time, and this time, it was just my wife and I there as the only fans. I asked them both for an autograph, which very happily they both did. Brian signed a guitar, Roger a drum, both signed a tour book and an LP. I asked Brian, how does a fan get Freddie’s signature as he is never here in the states as of late? Brian said he would “talk to me about it after the show”. “Talk about it”, whatever could that mean?
After the Rockline show, at about 10:15pm, Roger Taylor and Brian May walked out of the studio onto the sidewalk. He asked to see a poster that I had from their LP “The Works”. It was a multiple collage of each of the band members eyes, photographed over and over. He asked where I got the poster as he really liked it. I honestly could not remember, but offered it to him to keep. He wouldn’t take it from me as he felt it wasn’t “his to take”, but offered me this: He stated he was going back to England and would see Freddie in about a month or so. He offered to take both the LP’s, photo, and white index card that I had for Freddie (should he had shown up that night) to England with him to get signed. My jaw dropped onto Cahuenga Blvd that night and probably is still sitting on the curb there somewhere.
Needless to say, I took Brian up on his offer. I thanked him sincerely, he smiled and took my stuff and drove off. About 3 months later, I received a parcel post from the U.K. with all my items signed by Freddie, personalized to me. My albums, my photos, my white index, were all signed, “To Stephen”” I was able to obtain Brian’s signature a few years after Freddie’s death, as Brian was touring solo. There was too many people around and the opportunity to thank him in person, just wasn’t in place. (I had written to Brian at his L.A. home shortly after receiving the parcel thanking him). Mr. Brian May, if you ever read this, that act of generosity holds as an amazing act of extreme kindness to any fan. I prize these autographs of Freddie, and the entire band so highly.
To this day I am still 1000% appreciative whenever I receive an autograph. I have never forgotten that these celebrities, any celebrity, are under no obligation whatsoever to have to sign for anyone at any time. Being lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to even ask for an autograph, takes skill, information, patience and always a lot of luck. I owe every celebrity who has ever taken the time to stop and sign for me, so much appreciation.
IN CLOSING, I really must thank my family for all their patience.
To my children, I can’t even begin to express all the while I have been away from home or out late, or spending countless hours on my computer or in boxes after boxes knee deep in autographs and memorabilia, how thankful I am for your understanding and support.
To my parents, I owe you everything.
To my beautiful wife, (hasn’t being married to me been harder than you could ever have imagined?) If I lived to be over 100, I could never repay you for all kindness and love, your patience and understanding, your companionship and warmth, and the life you have shared with me. It’s not been perfect and I have not at all been perfect, but, I loved back soon after we first met, and will love you till the end of my life. I truly am in “for the long haul”.
AND TO ALL WHO VISIT: PLEASE ENJOY MY MUSEUM.