I grew up listening to a wide variety of music. From dare I say Barry Manilow, ABBA and The Carpenters to Survivor, Led Zeppelin, REO Speedwagon, Journey, The Cars, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi and those other zany hair bands.
So when I was finishing my basement a few years ago I decided I wanted to have a music room/office area. One that would contain my guitars, keyboards and other musical paraphernalia.
At one point I came across a bunch of old record albums I had lying around in a box and had an idea. Rather than throw all of them out since the turntable had gone the way of the 8-track, I decided to decorate my “Rock Room” by hanging them in frames on the walls. Record albums I could look at and think about all the good times gone by.
Then it dawned on me. Putting records on the wall was kind of lame. It would look too “TGI Fridays”….No, the only REAL way to put these things up would be if I could somehow get them SIGNED by members of the band from the time the record was made. No small task indeed.
And to make it even more challenging, I made a single rule for myself. I would NOT buy one of those back-stage pass deals to get it signed. It HAD to be at a show. And it had to be FREE. Not something I purchased where the artist was obligated to sign.
Ok, I made one exception to the rule and that was for the first Beatles record. Obviously, that thing will never get signed. 50% of the band is dead, 25% of the remaining members you’d need to be the Queen to get a signature from and the last 25% has said bluntly that he’ll never sign anything ever again. But I put it on the wall anyway. I mean, c’mon, it’s the Beatles.
Some of the others though I’ve had more success with.
Survivor’s Vital Signs album, my Holy Grail of records. The one with “Can’t Hold Back”, “High on You” and The Search is Over” on it. I was able to get it signed at Hershey Park of all places. The guys came out and signed for everyone shortly after the show a few summers ago.
Another shining moment came during an REO Speedwagon concert at the State Theatre in 2009. I was able to get up to the front of the stage for the encore and had a bunch of the band sign my “Wheels Are Turnin'” record. Wow, this was easier than I thought….or so I thought.
But this note is entitled “Denied” so by now I think you might have an idea as to where this may be going.
I found myself in the 5th row of the Bryan Adams concert at the State Theatre one Sunday night last year. It was on his “Bare Bones Tour” where it was just him, his guitar and a piano player. There was a glimmer in my eye as I held my copy of his “Reckless” album. You know the one. With “Summer of 69”, “Heaven” and “Run To You” on it. The record that was another staple of my life back in high school.
This was going to be cool. Because unlike my other efforts to obtain signatures, this one was for a solo artist. The problem with getting autographs on my other records is that sometimes members of the current bands lineup doesn’t include all of the same players that performed on the album. If I was lucky, maybe there were three of the five still in the band. So some of my treasures can still be labeled as incomplete.
But this one wouldn’t be. Yes sir ree. One signature was all I needed. A signature from Bryan Adams shining in blue Sharpie in the upper left hand corner real big. Can you tell I had this pretty well planned out?. It would happen. It HAD to happen.
One of the best shows I’ve ever seen at the State Theatre, Bryan went through much of his catalog of hits from back in “the day”. My heart got giddy as the end approached. I had done my research (you really have to if you want to do this thing right)…He would leave the stage and come back for a final encore of two or three songs.
Prior to the last songs Bryan persuaded people to come up to the front to which I did with Reckless and Sharpie in tow. As I got to the front of the stage euphoria set in. I could “SEE” him signing my record. I looked around and noticed that I was the only dude in a gaggle of women. Women with NOTHING to be signed. I fondly recalled the line Flounder gave in Animal House when he said “Oh boy, is THIS GREAT!!”
I could hear one of the girls next to me telling her friend that he would do “Summer of 69” one more time as the encore. I snidely looked over at her and corrected her by saying he’d do “Straight From the Heart”. And when he started singing “I could start dreaming but it never ends…”…a smile came across my face as there was no longer any doubt as to who the REAL fan was…
I noticed Bryan look over in my direction several times during the last song and I even had shown him the Reckless album and he kind of smiled. A good sign. Then after the song was over he just said good night and left. And the equation had been solved:
Me + Reckless Album + Gaggle of Women with Nothing To Be Signed = Bryan signs nothing…
I ask you: Can there be anything sadder than a man standing alone with his un-signed album at the foot of the stage when the house lights come on?
I never know when, if ever, I’ll get a chance to have the Reckless record signed again. But I had a great run of success getting signatures which will continue. This was my first setback. It was great re-living all those songs again in concert and all the great memories they brought back.
I think I’m going to put this album on the wall anyway.