2020 – Collections: Picture Discs, Colored Vinyl and a Boot or two
(Ignore publish date of May 1, 2017 – this was published on May 25, 2020)
I never actively collected any of these records, but I have accumulated a few interesting ones over the years.
1. This is a great story, thanks to an FM thief and an AM radio station.
In 1978, my girlfriend was temporarily living with two other young women in an apartment in New Haven, CT, while she was taking a class at Yale.
She missed listening to NYC’s WNEW-FM when home in NJ and had bought an FM converter for her AM-only Mustang. It was small (4-5” long and maybe 1.5” tall), hung under the dashboard and looked something like this:
One night, someone broke into her car and stole the unit, so she was forced to listen to local AM stations in the car.
A week or two later – actually, August 25, 1978 – I drove up to New Haven to see her. She started telling me about some AM station up there – 13WAVZ – that she discovered and really liked, so we listened to it in the apartment.
They had contests going on and if you were the 13th caller, you’d win the prize. They announced one particular contest while we were listening and it had a really good prize, so I decided to try my luck and call.
I dialed all the numbers except the last one and waited. “What are you waiting for? Finish dialing!”, she said. “No…………not yet.”
Finally, I hit it and…………….I was the 13th caller! (timing is everything!)
As I spoke with the DJ – who was recording our conversation to play on air right after a commercial ended – he kept admonishing me for not sounding excited enough.
I finally passed his excitement test just in time.
I don’t know what we used, but somehow, we recorded what soon came out over the airwaves (crank your volume up):
THIRTEEN (actually, fourteen) brand new “Darkness on the Edge of Town” Bruce Springsteen picture discs! Good thing the station didn’t call itself “2WAVZ”.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune! UN-fortunately, I wouldn’t be around during the week to pick them up at the radio station. Fortunately, Sue would.
Here’s the note that was on the stack of LPs at 13WAVZ:
(I never saw a letter on their stationery)
“$75 each”? That means this haul was worth over a thousand dollars…………..and that was 42 years ago. Today? As I write this, they’re running from $100 to $325 – some opened, some not – on eBay. And there are fakes out there………
Here are both sides of the disc, one side of the enclosed lyric sheet and the back cover:
In 1995, I brought one sealed disc to the FX television studios in Manhattan and was a guest on “Personal FX – the Collectibles Show”, where appraisers guessed a value and you could accept bids from viewers if you wanted to. You can see what happened here:
No Bruce fans tuning in that day, I guess.
You’ll note that one appraiser didn’t agree with my statement that 1,000 of these picture discs were made – something I’ve always been told. I just found this online:
4+ decades after winning at WAVZ, I still have 3 of the picture discs left and two of those are still sealed:
2. No big story on this one. I shot a ton of shows for Cleveland International, which managed Meat Loaf and the Ian Hunter Band (with Mick Ronson). I’m guessing I walked into their office one day and somebody handed me this…………..twice.
Shown are both sides of the still-sealed discs:
3. I have NO idea where I got the GN’R disc from. It’s opened:
4. Who else do you know who has a 1980 Slim Whitman promo picture disc? Want one? It might set you back 7 bucks or so on eBay.
It’s a nice picture on the back cover, but it doesn’t work well on the back of the disc (nose ring? snotball?).
I don’t remember this, but it says that he was also managed by Cleveland International. How did I miss out on that?
COLORED VINYL LPs
1. Brownsville Station – I know they were smokin’ in the boys’ room, but I don’t recall them shortening their name to Brownsville:
2. “Mirror Star” was a hit for the Fabulous Poodles in 1978. In 1979, I shot them at the Bottom Line in Manhattan on Valentine’s Day, walked outside after the show and saw a big fire two blocks down Broadway…………..it was the Infinity Disco burning down:
3. Red for Meat’s Bottom Line show on vinyl. Shown are the front and back covers:
4. No Wave New Wave in cyan:
5. I still can’t get over that cryptic message on Moonie’s chair on an album that was released 3 weeks before he died:
6. When it comes to colored vinyl, NOTHING tops this 12”, 45rpm disco record. Since I’m allergic to disco, this has never been opened. It doesn’t matter to me WHAT music is on it – this is the coolest-looking vinyl I’ve ever seen and was happy to plunk down 3 bucks for it:
7. LATE ADDITION: After I had everything written up, I woke up the next morning and couldn’t shake the thought that I had one more colored disc and that it was buried in my album collection and unseen for decades. For some reason, I saw it as being yellow, but what band or artist was it? Slowly a name came to me, but I wasn’t sure, so I searched the album cabinets. I had 8 of this act’s albums. I knew it couldn’t be any of the good ones (the first 4) because I had played them too often back then and would have remembered if one of them was colored vinyl.
Sure enough, a goldish-yellow, 47-year-old LP was found in #8 from that self-proclaimed American Band – Grand Funk Railroad (“Grand Funk” by then):
1. Not sure why I decided to buy this LP at the late, great Korvettes. I know it says “includes LIMITED EDITION EP”, but it doesn’t feel like it contains an LP AND an EP:
2. I DO know why I have two promo copies of this album and kept one sealed – Swan Song gave me two:
3. I think I got snookered on this one. Reading the sticker, I probably thought that it contained an LP and a 45. Doesn’t matter………….I’m sure my 42-year-old unopened one is a lot more valuable than my opened one:
BOOTS (one with colored vinyl)
There are only two bootleg albums here and not only are they from the same band………they’re from the same show.
I’ve never been that into bootleg releases, but these were special. Not only was I at the show, I also shot it. This is water landing on the front rows a split-second after Mick Jagger tossed a bucketful at them:
I had to dig deep for this one…………it’s never been published before.
When the biggest band in the world plays a rare date at your favorite 3,200-seat venue where you’re the house photographer, it’s kind of a big deal.
When you remember Mr. Jagger saying certain things that stuck in your head and that you KNOW you’ll hear on any boot of the show, like “New Jersey’s in the country, ain’t it?” while performing in VERY urban Passaic, NJ…….
………..and ESPECIALLY when you recall finding out that the master tape had been stolen directly from the soundboard RIGHT after the show, you KNOW that the resultant boot would HAVE to be very high-quality and you want it.
Garden State ’78 (Smilin’ Dork Record Co.) came out only 3 weeks after the show! It was the whole show (19 songs) and it DID have excellent sound:
Some time after that, Out on Bail came out on Lurch Records (love these names). Same show, but only 10 songs. However, this one also contains a 45 on yellow vinyl (or “yellow wax”, as the liner sheet says) on Pugsley Records. The songs on the single are “Sweet Little 16” from “New Jersey 1978” and “Satisfaction” from “Phila. 1978”).
Note that neither Out on Bail disc ever mentions “The Rolling Stones”. They both say “The Greatest Group On Earth 1978” on red labels (though the same liner sheet shows a picture of the Stones).
If either of these items interests you, save your money because the whole show is available on YouTube and is worth an hour-and-a-half of your time:
Whole 1978 Capitol Theatre (Passaic, NJ) show:
There’s ONE other unusual type of album-sized record I have that I almost forgot about: one-sided records that were created – in this case – to send to radio stations. Actually, two LPs were sent, but the material covers three sides, so one is blank – a one-sided record.
I used to shoot the Robert Klein Radio Hour at RCA Studios in Manhattan when the show aired from 1979-1981. It was a LOT of fun with major stars at almost point-blank range. There are a whole bunch of Klein Show pictures on http://bobleafe.com/ under “K”.
The announcer was old pal Dennis Elsas from WNEW-FM in New York, which aired the show at a later date. So did a lot of other radio stations around the country. They were all mailed heavy-cardboard boxes that were about 13″ x 13″ x 1” and contained everything the stations needed to air the show.
Here’s one that I have that was never sent anywhere (more on that later). You can see that I wrote the names of the stars who where on that particular show: Bill Murray, David Johansen and Richie Havens. “36” is the show number:
Inside are the two LPs with 3 sides of material:
Closeups of two of the labels:
The show taped on June 9, 1981. The stations were to air it on June 28. This included sheet tells the stations what to say in their on-air promos in advance of the airing:
The show’s cue sheet:
The confirmation-of-airing sheet and the envelope to mail it back in:
I only thought of all this because one of my album cabinets has this sticks-out-like-a-sore-thumb stack of horizontal cardboard boxes amidst all the vertical cardboard album covers:
How I got them is an interesting story.
One day in late 1981, I was in the office of show publicist Sheryl Gordon, who told me that the Klein show was over. Ended. Finished. Kaput.
After our conversation about that, I happened to ask her what the dozens of square heavy-cardboard boxes on her shelves were. She told me they contained the Klein shows that were sent to multiple stations to air. Up to that point, I had no idea how they accomplished that. “Actual LPs were sent out around the country?”
“Yep. Take what you want. I’m not gonna need them anymore.”
Wow – I was a kid in a candy store, but with no pockets. I didn’t have my car with me, so I jammed whatever I could into my shoulder bag and carried the rest. I had to walk from E. 51st St to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on W. 41st to get home. If I had my car there, I would have taken one of each……….and there were 62 shows. Without it, I was fortunate to get 18 of them home.
I just took a look on eBay and found a couple of used ones for sale, but none with the box and most without the paperwork, running as high as $150.00.
Mine are mint – I’ve never played them and they’re complete.
Robert Klein is probably my favorite comedian. I shot 40 of those 62 shows, so I’m glad to have the official recordings of a lot of them.
Robert and I reconnected in 2016 and that story is must-read (and listen-to). Go to https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=2561 and scroll down less than a third of the way. It’s the first story after “OCTOPUPS IN OUTER SPACE”.
You can’t miss it (and you shouldn’t).
Unconnected to any of this is a fun kind of picture disc that I have ONE of: a double-sided WOODY WOODPECKER one. I’ve never played it and have no idea what’s on it (though the 3.5 x 5 “Family Album” card gives a clue or two):
I’ve just always liked Woody Woodpecker and thought he looked better than the guys on the other picture discs. Unfortunately, it stood for years behind something that let most of the front image be bathed in direct sunlight, so you can see the original yellow background on only a small percentage of the disc:
The back image is interesting (I had forgotten that it was even there) and is unaffected by the sun:
There’s a type of vinyl bootleg that’s not limited to LP-size and that you may not be familiar with, but I am, unfortunately. It doesn’t involve recorded shows or ANY recorded music, but rather plays interviews. What’s bootlegged are the PHOTOGRAPHS……………MINE!………and all unpaid and uncredited.
Here are four examples:
1. Most of the companies involved were shady, illegal ones from England and most of the photos involved were never published (they’re too crappy-looking to send out). So how did they get them if I didn’t send them? I had strong suspicions – there was only one place that had access to my work, but I had zero proof that they were the culprits. Besides, it would have been VERY expensive to have my copyright lawyer try to sue that kind of company in another country and with no proof. I might just as well have flushed the money down the toilet.
To add insult to injury, of course they never sent me a copy of whatever they created that used my work, so I had to BUY all of these items wherever I found them – usually in Manhattan record stores that had no idea they were selling ill-gotten goods.
Let’s start with the one (actually, FOUR) that pissed me off the most from the biggest of the English slimeballs – a company that identified themselves as BAKTABAK.
They put out a 4-disc “interview picture disc collection” of Guns N’ Roses. The outfits and background tell me it’s from a shoot I did with the band at San Diego State University in 1988. You think the band was happy with me after seeing this? You think I was happy that this crap was out there? I’m probably better off that they DIDN’T credit me.
BTW – the same pic that’s on the back of all four discs is not mine. I wonder who they ripped off for that one:
2. While researching this post, I came across this unopened, orange-y CD package. Hoping that it was only the casing that was discolored by the sun, I opened it up. The good news is that the contents were good as new:
The bad news is that this was another uncredited shot of mine that was taken at the 1987 Texxas Jam (that’s how they spell it) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The band was Whitesnake – NOT “White Snake”, as these oh-so-hip English thieves wrote on two pages of the four-page booklet:
3. Next up is everyone’s favorite little Runaway, Lita Ford. Finally – a good picture! This was taken at Manhattan’s Hard Rock Cafe in 1988 at a record-release party. Lita was wearing a very-tight rubber dress and boy, did it add to her…………..uh…………..(what’s the safe word I’m looking for?)……..um, her photogenicity (yeah, that’s it!):
Still, however, this IS a stolen image use. These clowns didn’t even have the decency to position the disc so the photo would be straight in the sales rack. I had to turn it 45 degrees to make it look right.
I had forgotten that I have two of these and had positioned the open one in front of the unopened one for at least 20 years – a pleasant surprise – and you can see what the sun did to the front one:
BONUS: I took this picture of Lita’s manager at the same party. I’m pretty sure you all know her name, but maybe not what she looked like 32 years ago. If you think you know who it is, guess in the comments (I know a certain manager who’s gonna get this).
I’ll acknowledge any guesses:
4. This picture of The Knack – which I took in 1979 – is actually a legitimate use, but they didn’t credit me. Thank you Guitar Techniques in – where else? – England for this “big boost” to my career:
The news isn’t ALL bad, thanks to a certain Jersey guy we all know, Jon Bon Jovi (or maybe it was his cousin Tony), who put out a CD in 1997 called “John Bongiovi: The Power Station Years 1980-1983” (Jon hit it big in 1983):
Prior to that, well, you can read the story here:
Whenever photographers asked me for any advice during my career, I always told them to shoot ALL opening acts – ESPECIALLY the ones you never heard of or don’t care about. It sure paid off in this situation.
In 1980, I went to the Fast Lane in Asbury Park to shoot cute jailbait Rachel Sweet. The opening act was The Rest, who I had never heard of and really wasn’t that interested in shooting. But when an opener sees a professional photographer sitting at a front table that’s covered with camera equipment and isn’t touching it during their set, it can’t be very inspirational to that band.
Fortunately, this band had an interesting guitarist (Jack Ponti) who was jumping about and flipping off people, so that got me to start shooting……….and oh-by-the-way, I took a couple of shots of the 18-year-old singer.
Three years later, “Little Runaway” was a smash hit and a band called Bon Jovi was suddenly opening up for big bands in arenas. Holy crap! That’s the singer in The Rest!
I wish I had taken a lot more photos of him at the Fast Lane, so always shoot opening acts, future music photographers!
Anyway, my pix turned out to be the first professional ones of John/Jon performing, so when magazines put out chronological retrospectives on the band, mine were usually first.
I’m guessing that when this CD was about to be put out, the call went out to the agencies for photos. The two that were used (twice each) in this CD came from my agency. I’m not sure why they used a 1987 photo, but I’m glad they used the 1980 one (which, BTW, is black-and-white – not green, as it appears on the CD):
It’s my only credited picture disc.
There’s just ONE last type of picture disc to feature here. It’s along the lines of the 1963 MAD Magazine cardboard one I featured in https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=6748. This 6″ x 6″ Flex-Disc is from 1964 and featured a real person, actor Lorne Greene, as his Ben Cartwright (“Bonanza”) TV character, plugging the 1964 Chevrolet line. My father worked for Chevy at the time, so Bonanza was ALWAYS on:
I noticed the stamped name, dealership and phone number of the salesperson who originally handed these out: “Howard Whitehead, Foley Chev. 695-1271”.
This was from over 60 years ago. Could ol’ Howard still be around? The phone number had no area code, but I did find a Foley Chevrolet in at least 3 states, so that narrowed it down a bit.
When I added Howard’s name to “Foley Chevrolet”, I got ONE result – a great one from the state of Washington in 2017:
I couldn’t find an obituary for him, so I’m hoping he’s a happy almost-103 now.
I think that’s a nice note to end this on.