I love autographs. It’s not a case of star lust; it’s a matter of what I call “cosmic contact”. A simple autograph is a way of saying, “I was here.” However, a signed piece of art, be it a book, album, etc., says, “This is my accomplishment, and I am proud of it.”
Numerous autographs line the walls of my office. For the longest time I only wanted those that I had personally obtained because I was documenting a moment in my life. I can look at the item and say, “I remember the day that was signed. I was with my friends at the fair.” This holds especially true with the autographs I cherish the most—the ones by Paul Revere and the Raiders. They’re great guys, and I’ve known them for about thirty years now. It was during those childhood days in that autograph line that I got to meet them, and in the years since we’ve developed friendships. So those autographs hold a special place in my heart because they represent a part of me that has grown.
Years later I met some former Raiders during a reunion show. Here I was, someone that was but the kid in their eyes, approaching them with records and posters from decades before with things I probably shouldn’t have known about. I’ve one poster in particular from 1966 that was signed by all five of those members. The smiles among them while signing it were priceless. When they saw the poster their memories flooded back. Then they looked at me and realized my age and their smiles grew even brighter. When I asked Paul to sign that poster on a separate occasion he was floored by it. He didn’t remember the poster and we had a nice chat about it. These are moments I will never forget, and now I have something to remind me of them every day when I pass the poster in the hallway.
Today if the right item comes along at the right price, I’ll purchase it. In celebration of my last birthday I bought a page out of Steve Marriott’s notebook. It is well known that his former manager, Laurie O’ Leary, sold these pages to fans after Steve’s tragic death. While it is not signed per se, it does include a bunch of studio notes listing the names of musicians in attendance. Steve’s name is boldly written in his own, unmistakable hand and underlined as being the producer. Marriott worked hard to get to a place where he was really in charge of his work. To me this document is a declaration of his independence. Every time I see it, I’m so incredibly happy that he found that kind of success. Thinking about it makes my heart swell.
Recently my husband surprised me with a signed copy of one of my favorite books, Jacqueline Susann’s, Valley of the Dolls. While I have always loved this book it now has special significance. Much like my own plight with my controversial Forbidden Flower series, publishers told Ms. Susann that no one would have interest in such a book. Eventually she proved them wrong. Nearly fifty years later that book is still selling. Though she is long gone, I get to hold a piece of her sticking her tongue out at naysayers. Through this signed copy she still screams, “I did something special!”
Some look at autographs as pieces of vanity. To me they are pieces of inspiration.