Tag Archives: Autographs

My Day With the Ramones.

I fancied that I hada pretty compete collection of punk albums ranging from the original 1977 version of Never Mind the Bollocks… through all the Clash albums and Stranglers and Damned albums, too. I had picked up a cutout copy of the Ramones Leave Home and a copy of Road to Ruin but I wasn’t a fan.

I used to read Jan Gradvall’s column i Swedish music magazines and in 1995 bought his essay anthology Artiklar, intervyuer, essäer 1981-1994 (in Swedish) and one of the first essays (on page 66 already) was about the Ramones. The essay started with a list of the timings of the 28 songs on the Ramones It’s Alive album. 1:57, 1:54, 1:56, 2:20, 1:49. 1:34, 2:24, 1:36, 2:15, 1:34, 1:35, 2:40, 2:19, 1:42, 1:40, 1:45, 1:35, 2:16, 1:40, 1:25, 2:40, 2:08, 1:14, 1:51, 2:05, 1:40, 1:20, 2:02. Gradvall used these timings to declare the Ramones as the perfect pop group. I was fascinated and started to listen to them.

A few weeks after reading Gradvall’s eulogy to the band I read in a local newspaper that the Ramones were no longer going to tour. I had sort of decided that I really wanted to see them live. Oh, well, thought I, that ain’t gonna happen. However, only a few weeks later I heard that Ramones were scheduled to play at Skellefteå festival a mere 133 kms south of Luleå, where I lived. Skellefteå festival was a fixture on the northern Swedish festival circuit and “happened” to always be on the same weekend as the huge Roskilde festival in Denmark. Thus Urkraft, the organisers of the Skellefteå festival managed to book artists appearing at Roskilde including Skunk Anansie, Suede, the Stooges alongside top Swedish bands.

So, I phoned Urkraft and simply asked which hotel the band would be staying at and was immediately told that they would be at the Scandic Hotel, so I booked myself in there for the duration of the festival.

So I drove down on the 24th June in the midsummer sunshine and went to check into the hotel. I was standing at the reception desk and asked if the Ramones had arrived just as a man emerged from the lifts behind me and heard my question. It turned out this was Monte Melnick, the legendry Ramones tour manager. He asked who I was and what I was doing there an I explained that I was from the town of Luleå where I worked as a doctor. Monte immediately asked me if I could help him. He had a chronic cough, he said, and doctors couldn’t find the cause. He wondered if I could help. I had to admit that I hadn’t brought my stethoscope with me… We chatted a bit and I showed him the records I had brought with me and asked if there was a chance I could get them signed. Monte said that the band would be in the hotel restaurant at six and that I should meet them there.

Said and done! I arrived at the restaurant on the dot of six and saw one band member sitting alone at a table and so I wandered over and, not knowing what to say, shyly asked “are you with the band?” It was, of course, Johnny. He looked at me and snarled “can’t you see I’m eating?” and he told me to come back when he’d finished.

I was hungry, too, and took a seat at a table almost as far away from Johnny as possible and ordered a hamburger and a beer and waited. No sign of Monte and the other three band members yet.

Johnny finished his meal and came over and joined me at my table and started asking questions about who I was and what I was doing in Skellefteå. He told me how many gigs the Ramones had played in their career (I think I remember he said 1200, but that can’t have been right) anyway we started talking and he told me about his autogrpah collection of over 14,000 signatures. He told me he collected photographs of sports personalities and B-movie stars and sent them to the artist to get them signed. I said I thought he got them back as he was a celebrity and I didn’t think I would be as lucky! We chatted for about 45 minutes while Monte, Marky and Joey arrived in the restaurant. Marky and Joey sat pasty-faced leafing through girly magazines and looking bored. They happily all signed my records though. CJ was already somewhere in the festival area so I had to catch up with him later. Monte gave me a backstage pass (I still have it somewhere, but can’t lay my hands on it) to get into the festival even though I had bought a ticket — so I was enrolled in the Ramones for the rest of the evening. I had to teach Joey how to pronounce Skellefteå (shell-eff-tio) before the gig. Monte invited me to watch from backstage, but I wanted to see the Ramones in action so went out front.

They came on stage at exactly on schedule and — “one, two, three, four” — played without a pause for 75 minutes — an utterly amazing experience! I felt I’d been run over by a steamroller. Hey Ho, Let’s go! These were the days before smartphones so I don’t have any pictures. But I treasure the experience.

In 2011, Swedish author Bengt Ohlsson published his book Rekviem för John Cummings a biography of Johnny Ramone, which I immediately bought and read. I recognised much of what Johnny had told me in Skellefteå.

Fast forward to today. In mid November 2022, I read a review of a new book Ramones i Sverige — världens första punkband skruvar upp tempot i folkhemmet (Ramones in Sweden — the World’s First punk Band Speed up the Welfare State) by Sven Lindström, Jan Lagerström, Petter Lönegård and Kjell Magnusson. The book catalogues the twenty Ramones gigs in Sweden between May 1977 and June 1995, plus a gig in Oslo, Norway in August 1980 and their concert at Roskilde festival, Denmark, in June 1985.

I was too shocked to try to time the songs and I didn’t/couldn’t make a set list either. I spent the rest of the evening in a daze wandering the festival site. A few years later, in 1999, I joined the Skellefteå festival crew as festival doctor looking after both the artists, the festival crew and memebrs of the public. I got quite a few autographs as well.

Record Covers by Peter Liversidge.

In a previous post I reported on British artist Peter Liversidge’s record cover art. Liversidge’s art is quite fascinating. in 2013 he arranged for children in an east London school to suggest and mount a protest on any subject–that they themselves, independently of adult suggestions–wanted to protest about. They made placards and chants to go with their protest and in 2015 staged it at Lonson’s Whitechapel Gallery. Otherwise Liversidge is known for his concept art, producing proposals for galleries to carry out. In his recent exhibition at Bonniers konsthall in Stockholm, entitled “Working Title II” he had produced 45 “Proposals”, each neatly typed on a separate A4 sheet of paper and framed on one wall of the exhibition space.

liversidge proposals
Peter Liversidge’s 45 proposals.

Bonniers konsthall had also published the proposals in a book:

In addition the gallery had produced Liversidge’s book “Notes on Protesting” describing his projects.

Another aspect of Liversidge’s art is his passion for collecting objects that resemble faces. One room in the gallery was devoted to this aspect of his art with carpets, rocks and masks.

Peter Leversidge’s face replicas.

Peter is a music lover (as I have found many artists to be) and friends with members of various bands for whom he has provided cover art. I had managed to find four LPs with Liversidge designs:
– Low–Ones and Sixes (2015)
– The High Plains–Cinderland (2017)
– Allred & Broderik –Find the Ways (2017)
– Low– Double Negative (2018)

On the Liversidge’s exhibitions penultimate day (February 16th, 2019), the artist attended the galley to do a book signing and I went along with my records to try to get them signed, too.

Peter was surprised (and apparently quote pleased) to see his record covers in these surroundings and was very happy to sign them. But he didn’t want to sign the front covers, preferring either to sign the inner sleeves or the backs. However, I managed to persuade him to sign the front of Low’s “Double Negative” cover–and he agreed it looked great that way.

He also signed the other three covers:

Peter told be a couple of stories about how the album art evolved. Theinner spread of the “Ones and Sixes” album has pictures of an owl taken in British Columbia. Originally, a bald eagle was suggested as the bird to be shown, but as this is the U.S.’s national bird the suggestion was shelved and the owl substituted. On Low’s other album “Double Negative” Peter had suggested using a different mask on the cover:

The mask Peter Liversidge had originally intended to use on the cover of “Double Negative”.

Peter also told me about a record cover he had designed that I had not managed to find. This was Wires Under Tension’s 2012 album “Replicant”.

Before leaving I managed to get Peter to pose for a photo with one of his masks–and the cover of “Double Negative”.

Peter with the mask featured on the cover of “Double Negative”.

Klaus Voormann & Revolver’s 50th Anniversary.

Klaus Voormann has a greater claim to being the fifth Beatle than most. If I had to rank the contenders, I’d put Brian Epstein on the top of my list, followed very closely by George Martin and then, probably, Klaus at number 3. After all, he knew them and became friends with them in Hamburg. He lived for a while with Ringo and George and was the one John phoned when The Beatles needed a cover for their seventh, at the time unnamed, album that became “Revolver“. Later Klaus played on many recordings with individual Beatles (including George Harrison‘s “The Concert for Bangladesh“) and was a founder member of the Plastic Ono Band. So other “contenders” for the title of the fifth Beatle such as Pete Best or Murray the K (Murray Kaufman, born February 14, 1922 – died February 21, 1982) don’t come close.

Quite apart from being an accomplished musician, Klaus Voormann has pursued a successful career as an illustrator. He is a master at portraying The Beatles as they were in the sixties and has produced posters of Lennon and McCartney in the Abbey Road canteen, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The latest set of Beatles portraits appeared on the covers of the August/September 2016 German music magazine “Good Times“. This issue had five different covers.

The magazine contained an interview with Klaus on the 50th anniversary of “Revolver” and each magazine included an A2 poster of the cover portrait.

There was even a promotional brochure that pictured all five magazine covers.
Good Times-brochure.jpg

While researching Klaus‘ book “The Birth of an Icon-Revolver 50” (see my previous post on this) I stumbled across another of his books that I had previously missed completely. In 2005 he published “Four Track Stories“, an illustrated paperback describing The Beatles‘ time in Hamburg.

This first edition is autographed on the flyleaf:

I ordered my copy directly from Klaus‘ website and it arrived in less than a week. There was a discussion about the shipping cost and Klaus refunded the shipping together with an autographed postcard with a personal message:

In our mail exchanges I asked if he knew of any record or CD covers that he had designed that were due for release and he asked which covers I already had. So I mailed him my list of 80 of his of his record covers with an apology that I only had 78 of them. So far he hasn’t replied about any new covers in the pipeline.

Rainer Crone’s Warhol Catalogue Raisonné – If I were a rich man, diddle diddle dum dum…

I’m not the jealous type. I really don’t need any more stuff. But sometimes when I’m doing some Ebay searches I come across something that arouses desire within my normally cool and collected breast. This time I was looking through some books by the art critic Rainer Crone as a friend had expressed an interest in his book of Andy Warhol’s  early art, entitled “A Picture Show by the Artist – Early Works 1942-1962”.

There are several copies for sale (for example http://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-EARLY-WORK-1942-1962-of-Andy-Warhol-1987-1st-1st-HCDJ-Rainer-Crone-/301174098703?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item461f600b0f) for not too outrageous prices, but what caught my eye was a copy of Crone’s other Andy Warhol book “Andy Warhol – Catalogue Raisonné” from 1970 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/SIGNED-ANDY-WARHOL-RAINER-CRONE-CATALOGUE-RAISONNE-1970-1ST-ENGLISH-ED-/201050857021?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item2ecf909e3d) with a price tag of $4,500. Now I’ve seen nice copies of this book go for some hundreds of dollars, and I think I bought a copy (without its dust jacket) for around $50, but I’ve never seen one at that price. So, obviously, further investigation was called for. Then I noticed the “signed” in the listing title and I wanted to see what the signature looked like – I mean there are loads of fake autographs out there.


Imagine my surprise – and excitement – to see that the book was not only signed but dedicated – and to ME! Well, not actually to ME but to my namesake. “Thou shalt not covet…” says the Commandment. But, i’m sorry ti have to admit that I do. I wonder if the seller would accept an offer of $45.00?