My love of autographs is not brought on by a case of star lust; it is more that I relish in cosmic contact. To me, even the most basic autograph is a way of stating “I was here.” However, a signed piece of art (be it a book, an album, or another work) 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 ones I had personally obtained because they documented a moment in my life. For the remainder of my days, I can look at the signature and say, “I remember when that was signed. I was with my friends at the fair.” This holds especially true with the autographs I cherish most—the ones by Paul Revere and the Raiders. I spent many hours of my childhood days in their autograph lines, and in the years since we have developed friendships. Today those autographs are not just mementos; they represent a part of my life.
One day, I met some former Raiders during a reunion show. There I was, a kid in their eyes, approaching them with a poster from before I was born. The best part of it was experiencing their joy while they signed it. They laughed and joked as their memories flooded back. Then they looked at me, and when they realized my age, their smiles grew even brighter. On a separate occasion, I asked Paul to sign that poster as well. The thing absolutely floored him. He didn’t remember the poster being issued, and seeing it signed by his old band mates clearly touched him. The resulting chat we had still brings a smile to my face, and now I can remember that moment every time I walk down my hallway. After that incident I made a point of bringing something obscure for Paul to sign each time I saw him. I am grateful for the beautiful memories that are now bringing tears to my eyes as I type.
These days, if the right item comes along at a good price, I’ll purchase it. One year as a birthday gift to myself, I bought a page out of Small Faces and Humble Pie front man 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 studio notes for a Humble Pie recording session and lists the names of the 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 felt he was in control over his work. To me, this seemingly mundane piece of paper is a declaration of Marriott’s independence. Whenever I see it, I feel his pride in his success. This piece of paper also inspired me. Peter Lane in Scary Modsters … and Creepy Freaks is a fictionalized version of Steve Marriott, and this notebook page certainly makes its way into the storyline. In fact, a lot of the little trinkets I keep around my desk slip into my work.
I was recently gifted a copy of one of my favorite books, Valley of the Dolls, signed by author Jacqueline Susann. 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 be interested in her book. Eventually she proved them wrong, and it became a smash success that was made into a film, spawned a sequel, inspired the cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and launched Ms. Susann’s writing career into orbit. Nearly fifty years Valley of the Dolls is still selling. Although she is long gone, today I can hold a piece of what feels like her sticking her tongue out at naysayers. Through this signed copy she still screams “I did it!”
Some look at autographs as vain trophies. To me they are pieces of inspiration, reminding me that whatever it is I want to accomplish, I can succeed.