Saturday, May 16, 2009


My mother has always accused me of being a star tripper. Her disdain for people in general has always made her immune. I have always had a fascination with celebrity and have been known to drop a few names.

As a kid I got a ride from Rich Little hitch hiking from Laclede Town to the West End. I had a conversation with Timothy Leary when I worked at the Venice Cafe. I still get chills thinking about him saying my name. “It’s nice to meet you David.” Some of his ashes spent a few years in space before burning out on reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere. I’ve met a lot of pop culture luminaries but never really got many autographs. I gave most of them away. I gave several to the Broadway Oyster Bar. All were stolen.

My favorite was Seymour Duncan. He’s famous for his guitar pickups. He’s done personal work for every guitar god you could name.

Seymour sat in with the Heaters one night. At the time he was playing pedal steel for Chet Atkins. I was practicing yoyo tricks behind the bar trying not to break the liquor bottles. I always used a Duncan Imperial. I made some kind of flippant remark about his name. By a strange coincidence the yoyo people were his family. I received an autographed promotional Fender yoyo in the mail later that week. It hung from the ceiling of the Oyster Bar for years until it was eventually stolen too.

The day I declined the invitation to sit in with Chuck Berry I did get him to sign a menu.

Valerie and I met Elvis Costello after a show at the Pageant last year. My son loves Elvis and was disappointed to learn we didn’t even ask for an autograph.

I found my autographed copy of Robert Fripp’s first solo record at my ex’s house. He was doing his one man show anti-tour. I watched him at Peaches records and then the next day at Streetside records. He recognized me and made a point of thanking me for coming back. Then he signed the record for me.

When 10,000 Maniacs toured their first LP they played at Keil Opera House. Their guitarist came to the Oyster Bar. We got to know each other and did several shots together. Joanie and I actually already had tickets to the show. He gave me a couple of back stage passes. When we went backstage after the show a young girl, waiting by the door, gave me a T-shirt and begged me to get an autograph.

We partied ‘til dawn with the band. When we left she was still waiting outside. I had completely forgotten about her. I was still clutching the shirt and had managed to get everyone’s autograph with the exception of Natalie Merchant. I don’t even remember seeing her. The girl was ecstatic.

My autograph of our buddy William Stage gives me a chance to plug his new book, Fool for Life. It’s memoirs of William’s job as a process server and his search for his biological family. It’s a good read and very funny.

The others are from A Prairie Home Companion when it came to the Fox a few years back. Garrison Keillor was obviously exhausted from touring and a little grumpy. I was growing my hair long again and it was at that awkward length. He asked, “What do you call that hair?” I hate myself for not saying, “Nigel.” I also told him I loved his book WBLT. Valerie pointed out the book was actually called WLT. Garrison said nothing. I’m still embarrassed about it!


Anonymous said...

You continue to hurt my feelings! I don't have a disdain for people, exactly, just a major disappointment with how discourteous and unfeeling they can be, and an enormous confusion at how the same people can also be so kind and helpful. This kindness has become prevalent in the reactions to me in these last few years since I've become disabled. I guess it's a face-to-face confrontational thing.

I don't like large, milling crowds so I'm not ususlly in a situation where I can seek autographs.

I collected 2 in my life. The first, I was about 8 years old, living in Glendale CA, playing with a little friend down the street. I guess her parents were involved in the entertainment world. Mom played accordian and Pop had drums set up in their den, but both were gone during the day at regular jobs. Anyway, Kirby Grant dropped by, they weren't home, and he gave us all autographed pictures, although we had not asked for them and were probably too young to understand about asking for autographs. He played Sky King and some other figure I can never remember now that I'm growing old.

The other I asked for. As married adults, Jerry and I went to Kiel Auditoriun for a Harlem Globetrotters game, the only professional basketball game I ever attended.I was an AVID basketball player all through high school, and the Globetrotters were a pretty big deal to me. Outside the west exit door I spied Marcus Haynes and, boldly, for me, asked for and got his autograph.

This is probably contrary to the typical attitude, but I've always felt it was an imposition to bother people in this way, but I guess it depends on how famous they are and how much people generally accost them.

Your Mom

Anonymous said...

i went to that Fripp concert at streetside(Webster), i remember dom got kicked out for taking photographs( i wonder if he still has that?) and pat got too drunk and crashed in the car; i have tried to explain how cool it was to see him do his thing with a tape loop and 2 recorders to many young people that didn't know life before endless delay samplers. i still have that autographed copy too(unopened), i left it with my mom, so it is one of the few things i have left from my life that is more that 5 years old Geo

Doggie said...

I don't think Dom got kicked out but I do remember he got in trouble for bumping into Fripp's pedal board. We saw Fripp a couple of years ago at Blueberry Hill. He's doing the same kind of thing with a 4 track digital delay. A woman gave him $100.00 to play Starless and he did. He's still broke and still spectacular!!!

dominic schaeffer said...

It was the Webster Streeside and i found myself sitting crooslegged, very drunk, about 3 feet in front of his "Fripperboard". As he played i passed into sleep and woke with a start- pushing my legs out an kicking it- hard!

"Oh maaaan, i'm sorry it'll never happen again i promise!"

Fripp just looked down upon me from his stool and without anger or malice stated a fact- "It already did."

and the gal who collected and gave Fripp the $100 to "play a request" was Nanci O'Dea. Fripp NEVER plays requests and always tries to avert them by saying "$100!"... we called his bluff! and the resulting soundscape was wonderful.

dominic schaeffer said...

You gonna party with Garrison when he comes back to town?

Valerie Pennington said...

I love Garrison, but he sure don't look like a partying kind of guy.

Doggie said...

Dom I think Garrison felt the same way about me that Fripp felt about you.