2019 – The Signature Collection
(Ignore May 1, 2017 publish date. This was published on July 17, 2019)
No – not THAT one! This is MY collection of signatures………..
I’m not a big autograph hound, but sometimes, it’s kinda cool to get an important one when the setting is right.
I witnessed most of these sigs and a couple were sent to me by the artist, so I have no doubt as to their authenticity. Every situation is different, so I’ll explain what I can as I present these chronologically by year-signed.
(why am I getting hungry?)
I’m not sure of the year, but it’s the first autograph I went after when this situation presented itself.
I was on 42nd St in Manhattan one evening when I saw a small crowd surrounding someone. I didn’t know who or why, but as I got closer, I heard some of the people mention a name I knew. I don’t think I was ever that close to a celebrity before, so I wanted in.
The problem was that I didn’t have anything to sign. Wait…………my little black book (remember them?) was in a rear pocket. I pulled it out, opened it to the inside back cover and thrust my arm into the mob. I started worrying that somebody else would take it or that the celeb would hand it back to the wrong person.
Someone took it and returned it fairly quickly…………success!
I looked at the sig and felt a bit disappointed. I knew him by another name that was famous all over the world, but he had started using a new name recently and that’s what he signed.
I got over it quickly:
Madison Square Garden, NYC November 28, 1974
This was one of the most magical nights of my life. My date and I went to see Elton John and there were rumors of a surprise guest.
The show was a spectacular first date with someone I had met the day before and dated for 2 years and also turned out to be special guest John Lennon’s last public performance.
On top of THAT, our 11th-row seats were right next to Yoko Ono! She signed our tickets and confirmed that John was there and would perform.
We were all standing on our seats, Yoko included, when John came out. I offered my telephoto-lensed camera to her so she could see John better.
I knew she was an artist, but I couldn’t remember if that included photography, so I asked her a question that led to one of the rarest Beatles collectibles in existence that I am the proud owner of.
I asked her to take some pictures of John with my camera.
I also asked her to hold the camera at a 45-degree angle when she took them. There are those wags who suggest that the angle had something to do with her ethnicity, but it was solely to differentiate her shots from mine.
She later wrote her name and address on a scrap of paper (at the bottom of signed ticket pic) she found on the floor and asked me to send her the pictures.
As soon as John left the stage, Yoko left her seat and went backstage where they reunited, ending Lennon’s infamous 18-month “Lost Weekend”. So naturally, I tell everyone that I was the last man to be with Yoko before she went back to John Lennon!
Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t come out well, but this one intrigued me:
It almost looks like a soul rising out of John 6 years before it really did.
I wrote to Yoko to tell her how they came out, but never heard from her again.
Years later, I asked photographer Bob Gruen, who worked extensively with John and Yoko and was in the same agency that I was, to bring a print of the shot to her. He did. I still haven’t heard from her, but I’m happy knowing that she finally has a copy.
What rarer Beatles collectible is there than a photo of John Lennon’s last public performance taken by Yoko Ono with my camera?
Monmouth Arts Center, Red Bank, NJ May 13, 1977
I took this picture of Bruce Springsteen at the Bottom Line in 1975 during “Kitty’s Back” (as he tried to hide behind Clarence’s back). Two years later, I met Bruce backstage at a show that was supposed to be Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes with Ronnie Spector, who sang with SSJ and the boys on their hit single, “You Mean So Much To Me Baby”.
Unfortunately, Southside was ill, but fortunately, Bruce stood in for him.
Since I happened to have this small print with me (I had no idea that Bruce was going to be there), I asked him to sign it. It’s the first time my work was signed by the pictured artist.
You can find the full story on bobleafe.com by entering 15-091 in the search box.
I first encountered Billy Squier when he was in Piper in 1977. I had shot their show from up front at NYC’s Palladium and sent some pix to their record company. They liked the end-of-show candid group shot and the band wound up using it as their autographed Christmas card:
I was told I’d receive a second one – a personalized one – and I did. It says, “Dear Chuck and Gary, Thanks for being there.” (right back atcha, guys)
Too bad I can’t find it.
As some of you know, I used to shoot for mega-promoter John Scher and all his venues (go to this blog’s main page by hitting the red WHOWHATWHY link near the top of the page if you want to read about that). John also tour-managed the Grateful Dead on the East Coast and managed other bands as well.
In early 1977, I shot a band of his called Crossfire that later changed its name to Pierce-Arrow, which was the name of an early-1900s car.
This was a very good band with some talented people in it. The one name I knew right off the bat was Doug Lubahn, who’s the answer to a great trivia question: who was The Doors’ bass player? (they never had one onstage, where keyboardist Ray Manzarek worked the bass pedals). But on the studio albums, it was Doug Lubahn.
He was also in one of my favorite Sixties psychedelic bands, Clear Light (check out “Mr. Blue”). If you ever saw Billy Squier on tour c. 1983, Doug was the lefty bassist.
The other half of the Pierce-Arrow rhythm section was drummer Bobby Chouinard, who later became the other half of Billy Squier’s rhythm section with Doug.
The rest of Pierce-Arrow consisted of folk singers, jingle writers and session players. They made two really good albums, but just could not catch fire.
I found this mounted picture of a Pierce-Arrow car and had the band sign it. Along the left side is “Sky Blue Bobby” (with a star) – Chouinard’s signature.
He died in 1997 of an apparent heart attack at age 43.
Rory Gallagher was just an absolute wild animal on guitar during his live shows, so I tried to catch him whenever I could. Check out this live version of “Shin Kicker” for a taste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpkvNekADJE
I have no idea where or when I got him to sign this 1978 pic I took at the Bottom Line. He DOES show up on someone else’s signed pic in 1979, but I didn’t have this pic with me…………I had no idea he would even be at that show.
The last time I saw him was in 1991 in NJ’s Club Bene. That’s the only place I would have had an opportunity to have him sign this, but I don’t remember meeting him there.
During his “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” tour, Bruce Springsteen had a 3-night stand (September 19, 20, 21) at “my house” – the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ.
After each show, he would come out in the venue to sign autographs for whoever was still around. Everybody knew that he did that, so a lot of people were there.
The program for this 3-night stand had a couple of my pix of Bruce in it and that’s the page that both he and Clarence signed, so this is the second instance of Bruce signing my pictures of him.
Thanks for the great signature, Patti Smith! 🙁
I think she made the same face when she was signing it.
This pic was taken when the Who played 2 nights at the Capitol. I think Pete may have signed it later that year when ¾ of the Who showed up on the Robert Klein Radio Hour.
My girlfriend at the time found this being tossed out at a record store in New Haven, CT c.1977. This highly-reflective and shiny Mylar promo piece was signed by Ray Davies when the Kinks played Bergen Community College – where I was a faculty member – in 1979.
“How to ruin a perfectly good picture” by Steven Tyler. Well, at least I got a hug and kiss out of the deal.
And here’s the other signed picture that Rory Gallagher’s in, but the star of the show is Mitch Ryder. You can see exactly what Mitch wrote via my MR note on the pic.
You can see it better in this Photoshop-enhanced image:
This is a page from People magazine, which ran a shot of mine of Jimmy Buffett, Robert Klein, Peter Tosh and John Oates that I took on the Robert Klein Radio Hour in 1979:
A closeup of the sig…….I’m not sure if Klein signed it in ’79 or ’80.
I took the Abbie Hoffman shot in 1980 on the Robert Klein Radio Hour and had Abbie sign it 4 days later when he was interviewed on WFMU.
Bette Midler was signing her new book, “A View From A Broad” at B. Dalton on 5th Avenue in NYC. When the crowd thinned out , I slipped her one of the promo sheets and she signed it.
Bram Tchaikovsky – the man and the band – was doing a lunchtime gig with the Joe Perry Project at CBS Studios that was broadcast over WNEW-FM. He wanted to sign this pic that I had taken earlier that year in Tennessee if he could add a couple of words to it.
Have at it, Brammer!
OK – this is a little complicated. This is a sandwich image: one B&W negative of the façade of the Convention Hall/Paramount Theater complex in Asbury Park that advertised the Hunter-Ronson show at the Paramount AND the Asbury Park Baby Parade (a tradition since 1890) AND another B&W negative of Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson taken at that show. Both pix were taken in 1979.
One negative sat on top of the other, but the performance one had to sit lower so the guys would clear the sign. That’s why the film’s sprocket holes show up on top. This sandwich was put in the enlarger’s film holder as is and this is the result. I’m not sure why there a second Ian Hunter signature on the back.
I think I got them to sign this when they made an appearance at Looney Tunez Record Store in Wayne, NJ, in 1980. BTW – Looney Tunez was run by guys who would later become Dramarama.
Ted Nugent was photographed with the WHCN (Hartford, CT) Walrus on the Robert Klein Radio Hour (I had never heard of the station or the Walrus prior to this – I’m guessing their station carried the show).
I got the pic in People Magazine and the next time Ted was on the RKRH, he signed it.
John Scher’s company – Monarch Entertainment – put out a small booklet that touted their services: Management, Tour Management, The Grateful Dead Movie, and College Booking. In it, I had pictures of the Rolling Stones at the Capitol Theatre, Ted Nugent at Giants Stadium, and Bruce Springsteen and Jerry Garcia – both performing at the Capitol.
In 1981, the Dead made an appearance on Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show. I had photo and backstage clearance. I also had one of these booklets with me and when I saw Jerry wandering around backstage, I asked him to sign his pic (Deadheads tell me this is a GREAT acquisition and do I want to sell it? [no]).
Oh, look – the Pierce-Arrow logo is on the cover:
Well, you saw the Piper version of Billy Squier in 1977. As a result, I wound up doing a few things for him in his early days as a solo artist. He also appeared in 1981 on The Tom Snyder Show and I took this picture of him when he was sitting in the show’s backstage makeup chair – the same chair where I shot Bob Weir when the Dead were there (you’ll have to go to my site to see that). This pic became the cover shot for his hit single, “My Kinda Lover”.
Toward the end of the year, I was invited to the taping of the very first MTV Christmas video (MTV had started on 8-1-81). Do you remember Billy’s, “Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You”? That’s the video I was at. My girlfriend was in the group behind him singing along with the original MTV VJs and assorted record company people.
Of course, I had brought the single with me and had Billy sign it………….and here’s THAT picture:
I took the shot of Eddie Money at the Bottom Line in 1977. I was hesitant to show him the pic because I thought he looked weird, but, apparently, he liked it.
I can’t think of where else he might have signed it, so it must have been when he was on the Uncle Floyd Show in 1982.
Bob & Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) signed their album in 1982 at a Sam Goody’s in Manhattan. Bob’s fading sig says, “Beauty! Good Day” and his name:
There was a guest on the Uncle Floyd Show in 1984 called The Amazing Wid, who would bring in a million unrelated props and use them in a funny word association bit.
Davy Jones of the Monkees was also on the show that day, so I grabbed one of Wid’s props – a humorous 1962 book called “The Monkeys”, which was about monkeys who were to work in an olive grove in Provence picking up olives – and asked Davy to sign it.
He seemed to be very concerned that I thought this book had some connection to his band and made sure to write “The Monkees” under his signature, so I wouldn’t be confused (uh, thanks for clearing that up, Davy).
This was pretty funny, but would you expect anything else from Soupy Sales? He was performing at a club in West Orange, NJ called Rascal’s.
From my site:
I was the beneficiary of some Soupy shtick when I took my first shot of the evening.
As soon as the flash went off, Soupy looked at me, reached in his jacket pocket, and yelled out, ‘Great shot!’ as he handed me an autographed picture of himself that I had supposedly just taken.
Obviously, I didn’t see him sign it, but when he personally hands it to you in front of a packed house, you have to believe it’s at least semi-legit.
I didn’t witness these signatures either, but I don’t have any doubts as their legitimacy.
This is a limited edition (maybe 50?), signed (maybe 10?) Rolling Stones 1994 tour jacket AND a Keith Richards-signed Telecaster (he wrote “Keith Richards BTB/98″ – BTB refers to the band’s 1998 “Bridges to Babylon” tour). The jacket was signed by Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie. Except for Charlie’s, these were great sigs.
Ignoring an original Led Zeppelin “The Object”, these items were – by far – the coolest rock items I’ve ever owned. How I acquired them is a pretty interesting story.
I retired from concert-shooting in 1992 and spent significant time after that trying to collect some non-payments and especially trying to recover some very valuable original slides that were never returned by a number of magazines.
Here’s how that all worked. Each month, magazines would call the photographers with a list of whatever photos were needed for that month. We would send in or deliver them in person to the magazines. Since I live so close to NYC – where many of the magazines were based – I would put together a couple of lists and run around the city delivering them in one day.
After the photo editor made his selections, I took out one of my two-page delivery memos that made a copy when you wrote on it, wrote all the accepted photos/slides down and had him sign it.
One of the common clauses in music photographers’ delivery memos was that if an original slide or negative was lost or damaged, the magazine was liable for a minimum of $1,500 each ($2,500 each if it was a rare one that couldn’t be replaced by shooting something similar on the next tour).
Some mags lost a bunch of my slides and never paid for them, but the editor of one of them had a conscience. He didn’t have the money, but wanted to know if I wanted “stuff” instead. As editor, he was given lots of highly-desirable goodies. He already had the jacket and was promised the signed guitar after he did (and published) an interview with Keith. He delivered the jacket in 1997 and the guitar in 1998.
So now the question was what do I do with these things? How should I display them properly? The only workable idea I could come up with that incorporated both items was to get a mannequin with moveable arms that could wear the jacket and play – or at least hold – the guitar.
I went into Manhattan with a pickup-truck-owning friend and found one with a beautiful stand (most were pretty ugly) for $250. My guitar-meister friend, Danny Shea, gave me the skulls strap, which was perfect, and I topped it off with a leather Yankees cap.
So now I had a new 7-foot-tall roommate – Keef Leafe – who stood by my front door. It was the first thing anyone saw when they walked in.
About 8 years later, I sold the jacket and guitar and the former Keef Leafe now sports my old long-fringed leather jacket, a Western-looking hat that I think is Australian and a cool-looking yellow Strat lookalike with holes (shown in the 2000 post). He kept the skulls strap.
There’s a picture of this now-nameless guy in the 2008 post.
I wrote the whole story regarding the “reunion” with Robert Klein here: https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=2561 You’ll have to scroll almost halfway down the post to get there (it’s right after “Octopups in Outer Space”).
It was a very interesting encounter:
I have lots of other signed stuff – mostly sports-related – but I bought those at auctions and online. Who knows how many are real?
Now that I think about it, I DID get one sports-related signature in person way back in 1959 outside of Yankee Stadium after a game when The Ol’ Redhead – Yankees announcer Red Barber – signed my 15-cent program:
It’s also here: https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=2954
That’s it! Hope you enjoyed it.