1998 – Keef Leafe & other acquisitions

I acquired a couple of interesting items in 1998. In ascending order, they are:

– an 8.5′ by 3′ Super Bowl XXVIII (1993) hanging, heavy-vinyl, double-sided street banner from Atlanta (the Super Bowl was held in the Georgia Dome that year). Apparently, only 200 were made.

In ’98, I attended an auction in North Carolina and this was hanging on a side wall of the room. I had my eye on it, but it turned out to not be a part of the auction. I didn’t know that as the auction wrapped up and I shouted out, “Hey – what about that banner?”

“You want that?”


The auctioneer snickered as he offered it to me for $25, thinking I’d never pay that much. No one else wanted it at that price, so I grabbed it. I think it’s well worth it.

Note: as I write this, there are a couple of these on eBay with asking prices as high as $140. Doesn’t mean they will sell for that, but that’s what some people value them at.




– an “Al’s Garage Band Goes on a World Tour” pinball machine – one of 1,000 made by Alvin G and Company. I got it at an auction in Bergenfield, NJ, when a roller rink closed. Their auction ad only said “pinball machines”, but not which ones, so I went. When I saw this one, I was determined that no one else would get it………….and no one else did.

I had no idea how I was gonna get this thing home (and up to the 7th floor), but then I met the rink’s pinball mechanic, who was now out of a job and offered to deliver the unit fairly inexpensively after I told him I would need a good pinball mechanic.

Turns out I DID need him a little bit too often, but it also turns out that that was because he wasn’t a great pinball mechanic and had to keep making trips back for no money to make things right.

He finally just disappeared, the machine fell into disrepair and I sold it to a pinball machine restorer who was VERY eager to get his hands on this rare machine. I’m told he fixed it up well and loves it. I’m glad.

This machine was a BLAST when it worked and if you like pinball and ever get a chance to get your hands on a good Al’s, grab it.




– 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.


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