PSYCHO SANTA STORY
(first written on this website in 2008, amended in 2014, and now amended since)
(It’s been almost 25 years since the incident took place. Time to let this story find some rest.)
On a Saturday morning November 28, 1993 on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, the term “Psycho Santa” was penned. This term represents a fan that on that day wore a Santa Claus suit and with signs and a bell, attempted a continued effort to obtain the autograph of Don Felder, then, of the band Eagles. I was that “santa” and they were my signs, my bell, my suit, and yes I was trying about 3 years during such a time, and before, to obtain Don Felder’s autograph.
Its been almost 25 years since such the event took place. It’s time to put this story to some rest and move on past it. Without going into all the full details again and again, here is basically my version of what happened and why:
(Please understand that the explanation below is just to offer a brief reasoning for the benefit of
celebrities like Don Felder who for a time may have asked why, and have read this page).
Around 1978, I started collecting Rock and Roll memorabilia.
In the spring of 1986, I started collecting Rock and Roll autographs.
There was no eBay, no Internet, no such words as “selfies”, and collecting autographs was often as easy as simply asking a celebrity for one, if you could ever find him or her. It was another era, an infancy, and completely different than from the madness and business we see today in the world of memorabilia collecting.
I had always been a huge fan of the band Eagles, especially since the summer of 1975
when their album One of These Nights was released.
During the decade of the 1980’s, and prior to resuming touring as full band in 1994, the other 6 members of the Eagles were releasing multiples of records, touring, attending award shows, making videos, appearing at radio stations, on-air promos, and record style swap meets and fan greets. Each was a part of many general public appearances.
Finding where Don Felder was appearing, or any live concerts he was in, outside of a few NAMM Conventions where I did see him, was very, very difficult. For a time, it seemed he had all but retired.
In 1992, I came back from vacationing in Europe with several German and Italian Greatest Hits albums that were never sold here in the U.S. I immediately went to work trying to obtain all 7 members of the band on the covers of these LP’s. One by one, and through many attended concerts and long night and day vigils of waiting, I started to obtain band member signatures on these unique Eagles albums. They were so rare, that some members either argued about signing them (claiming that they were bootlegs) or, in the case of Glenn Frey, wanted to know if I had extras as he had never seen them or heard of them either. These albums, I found out, were extremely limited.
With Don Felder’s signature still needed on each one, and with no information on any type of public appearance of any kind in or around the L.A. area, I decided to write to him and ask if we could meet somewhere public and comfortable for him so I could get these albums signed. He offered to receive, sign and return them via U.S. mail, but any personal signing was out of the question.
I wrote back to him with my reasons for not wanting to risk loss or damage of these items in the mail. I even sent a video tape of my collection, showing him my items.
Looking back, I should have fully accepted his generous offer and been thankful for the kindness.
All attempts during this time to meet him in person made it apparent no such thing was going to take place. Further, Hell had frozen over and there was no talk whatsoever of ever being an Eagles reunion any time soon. It seemed that I would not ever be able to complete my albums.
Instead, I had another idea…
On Saturday November 28, 1993, I took some pre-painted wooden signs asking Don Felder to either contact me and or sign my items for me. I dressed up as Santa Claus and, for a few hours, danced and rang a Christmas bell on Pacific Coast Highway hoping Mr. Felder might find such efforts from a fan both entertaining and flattering. Well, he did not. It turned out both he, the Malibu Police and his team of lawyers all found no humor in my little stunt. Instead it evolved into quite a terrible mess and misunderstanding. Lost now, was any possibility that this man, who I truly had admired, would ever believe in any way that I was truly just a fan trying to get my albums signed.
In fact, it got worse.
Starting on May 27, 1994, the Eagles were scheduled for 6 nights of reunion concerts at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater and were staying nearby at The Four Seasons on Fashion Island, in Newport Beach. Knowing the band was staying at this hotel, I booked my wife and me there, too, for several nights as I had tickets to four of their six opening night concerts.
Earlier that day, I had actually been served a restraining order from the legal camp of Don Felder that meant there would be no way whatsoever I could approach him, even at a hotel, to try and obtain his signatures, which were now just the last ones needed on my European albums. My wife and I ended up checking out of the hotel the next day, skipping the final 3 shows, in spite of having tickets in hand.
But sometimes things do work themselves out.
As time went by, and as the band’s tours of the mid 1990’s came to a close, little by little I was actually, finally able to obtain Don Felder’s signatures on my LP’s. I owe much to some certain folks who helped me greatly in the respectful way the signatures were finally obtained (which is the way they should have been obtained in the first place). Don also has graciously signed for me at golf tournaments, solo concert appearances, a few more NAMM shows and other very public events. Whatever the reason, I was able to finish up my quest that started back in 1998 to get all 7 members of this truly amazing band and each of its very talented and gifted members.
My quest, which started back in 1988 with one member’s signature, now had resulted in my
successfully obtaining all 7 Eagles band members on some of the rarest items of memorabilia found anywhere.
On May 6, 2008, Don Felder, Don Felder appeared at Barnes and Noble Bookstore at the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade, for the opening night of a month-long book tour. This was my chance to finally put to rest this incident by personally introducing myself, and apologize for not thinking through and considering his feelings and fears before putting on that Santa outfit and disrespecting his privacy and celebrity status. I really wanted to show him that I was indeed just a fan.
I took my turn in line with the 30 or so others that were there getting Don Felder’s just-released autobiography book, Heaven and Hell: My Life In The Eagles (1974-2001), to be signed. After the book signing was over, I walked up to him where he was seated at a table, along with his staff and staff from the bookstore. I introduced myself, explained myself, and apologized, as best and honestly as I could. I think in life we all try and leave the best footprints that we can. Though that always isn’t the case and mistakes do happen, in the case of Mr. Don Felder, I simply wanted to right a wrong.
When I had finished saying what I came to say, Mr. Don Felder reached out his arm, and the two of us shook hands. I don’t know if he fully believed me, or fully accepted my apology, but, whatever he reasons where for shaking my hand, he certainly was under no obligation to do so. I just hope to this day he does believe me.
I have seen Don Felder since this day at other book signings and events, at the Katrina Benefit concert and at The Grammy Museum. Don Felder now always graciously signs autographs for me. Whatever his reasons are, he has never refused my requests. For that alone, I thank Mr. Don Felder. More so, I thank him for a career of so much amazing music, and for so many incredible concerts.
I started off before collecting any autographs of this band as just a fan. Though I do care what a celebrity may think of me as I ask and seek his or her signature, I cannot control what they think. But I do have complete control on how I act. I am very proud to say that in over 30 years of collecting, I have shown the utmost respect to even some of the few that are the rudest, most cynical, and belittling of celebrities.
Thankfully, in almost all my encounters (with a few exceptions) I have been met with warmth, appreciation, and a willingness to show an extreme amount of autographing generosity and photographing kindness. I am diligent in my quest, but honest with my words. I often find a portion or event within their career and do sincerely express my admiration for that body of their work. All I can do is respectfully and diligently express to a celebrity that I admire their talents, and that my intentions are that of a collector and just a fan.