How to get celebrity autographs
July 8, 2008 7:51 PM   Subscribe

How do I get famous rock star/celebrity autographs for my teenaged son?

When I was 8 months preggers with my son, I won front row seats to Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Black Moon concert. He danced a lot in my tummy at the concert, and now, related or not, he plays drums on a cherry-red set of Premiere drums, and jams on an electric guitar (Gibson lookalike) with his own band. He can also play horns, but he is so very awesome on drums and guitar, electric or acoustic.

He will be 16 at the end of October. I would love to get him as many rock star/celebrity autographs as possible, but especially ELP. Their site is not very user friendly.. and he also likes Slipknot and Atreyu. Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, former Zeps, Green Day, etc., etc. anyone would be good.

Do they really send out autographs and how do I get one? I wrote to Sean Connery's agent two years ago, as my son was named after him, and never heard a word. I was really disappointed in Sir Sean.

Where do I start? There are so many places on the web for paying to get agents' names but that did me zero good with Sean Connery.

Thanks so much in advance for any tips or links.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It can be hard to get autographs from REALLY famous people unless you happen to find yourself in the same vicinity as them for whatever reason, the only other option I can think of is to purchase them from a reputable seller. Since ESP sounds like a biggie, you might try sending them a letter explaining why they mean so much to you and your son and then request an autograph. It might be a good idea to enclose an envelope with postage attached in an effort to limit the possibility that they won't return an autograph based on postage costs (I'm sure they get mail requests a lot).

Another strategy altogether might be to scavenge your son's music library to find as many artists on small and/or independent labels as you can. Smaller bands and labels may be more inclined to return your request, and they can generally be reached much easier than superstar bands. I would still suggest that you do everything in your power to make the process as smooth and pain-free for them as possible.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 8:11 PM on July 8, 2008

In my experience at being the receiving person for letters like yours: Except for the rare artist who will go above and beyond for the fans, you will be lucky to even receive a courtesy response. Getting autograph requests is a lot like getting spam, it is endless and impractical to respond.

The old fashioned way to get an autograph is still the best way. Hang around by the bus at a show, bug the musician (nicely, but yes, you are bugging them), and ask for an autograph. But if the artist is anywhere near the level of the ones you named, you are not getting anywhere near the bus. Mark David Chapman singlehandedly took care of that.
posted by quarterframer at 8:38 PM on July 8, 2008

Have you thought about contacting the members individually? ELP's website doesn't seem user-friendly, but their individual sites seem a bit better:


Greg sells a t-shirt off his site that's autographed. There's an autographed album (by all three members!) here. Maybe you can contact them through the website to have it personalized. Good luck!
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 8:53 PM on July 8, 2008

I can at least speak on my experience when I was 10 and trying to get an autograph from Paul McCartney is that he only gives out autographs to charity (though he did invite me to joint he fan club).

I second of just trying to buy the autographs.
posted by champthom at 9:00 PM on July 8, 2008

If you find the addresses of the pople from whom you want autographs, you could try mailing them checks for some foolishly small amount ($1 or $3.73 or something).

They sign and deposit the check (maybe), and a month later your bank sends you back your checks, with autographs.

(N.B. This is not my idea-- I read about someone doing it years and years ago-- can't remember who or in what context. I have no idea if it will work. I sort of suspect that it won't. But it seems worth a try because if it doesn't work, it has cost you nothing but a stamp.)
posted by dersins at 9:58 PM on July 8, 2008

Ahem. A story:

When I was a blithering movie-star-mad teenager lo these many many moons ago, my parents knew a guy whose son worked in the movie biz, a top agent or similar. And he came to visit and I babbled and then a few months later, a wondrous fat package appeared in the mail: a stack of glossy pix of everyone from Paul Newman to Al Pacino to Dustin Hoffman, all signed personally to me with love or good wishes. I was the most delirious 15-year-old you ever saw. Ever.
But maybe not the most on the ball. It took some years for me to go back and note how similar the handwriting and pen seemed to be on each glossy still. By then I didn't care and was just grateful for the thrill I had been given.

Of course, that was before the internet, when a savvy teen could go online to look at what a famous person's autograph actually looks like. So there's that.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:13 PM on July 8, 2008

can't remember who or in what context

It was the brilliant and still greatly missed Spy magazine, famous for pranks. They sent checks of around $1.19 to various celebs to see who cashed them. I remember Trump did. Brilliant.

posted by CunningLinguist at 10:16 PM on July 8, 2008

"can't remember who or in what context"

It was on the Simpsons, as well! If you go this route, hopefully you won't have Bart's dilemma, and they'll sign them instead of simply stamping them.
posted by alcopop at 4:07 AM on July 9, 2008

We once did an auction where we had celebrities sign postcards and mail them to us from their home towns (autograph + post mark, it was pretty cool). The way we got them is we just wrote to them explaining what we were doing, and about a third of them sent something back. So I'd say just find as real an address as you can (try their agent if you can track them down, or the official fan sites) and write to them. I think there's a real "celebrities are people too" thing here-- you've got a cool story, so just tell them.
posted by nax at 6:53 AM on July 9, 2008

For bands: If you are willing to pay, you could post an ad asking for someone to stand outside a concert venue. Best times would soundchecks, or before the show, rather than after a show when the rest of the audience will be waiting too.

For working actors: Again, if you are willing to pay, you could find out if they will be on location anywhere, and hire someone to try for an autograph then.

Small suggestion - be prepared for your son to not really care too much about autographs that he didn't personally collect. Just saying it's a possibility, so you don't get your feelings hurt, especially if you really went over-and-above to get it. I, personally, value the autographs that I really had to work to get (like hiding out in a record store all day on a tip from an insider) over the ones that I didn't (just standing there when someone signed 300 cds for anyone in the area).
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:14 AM on July 9, 2008

This is not very helpful for you, probably, with the rock stars and all, but when I was a kid I was a huge hockey fan. I sent out dozens of hockey cards to players c/o their team's publicity address, and got virtually every one back autographed by the player. For a couple of them that I was a particular fan of I wrote them a nice little note about what a big fan I was, but most of them were just good players for whom I had a good card and wanted it to be more valuable. So I just mailed a SASE and the card and in a few months it came back signed. This appears to be a routine task for sports players, or at least was in those days (i.e. the late 80's) for an underappreciated sport like hockey.

I assume most rock stars and actors think too highly of themselves for this to work, and of course there aren't rock star or actor cards to standardize the whole thing (that I know of, although that's an awesome idea -- on the back they could have movies or albums made, hit/flop percentage, trivia...). But perhaps someone else will stumble across this hunting for sports autograph info.
posted by rusty at 8:43 AM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all! I will try some of these and see where it gets me. I can spend a little money but not a huge amount. I figure if I start writing letters/requests now, I can get maybe something back by the his birthday. Thanks again, keep 'em coming if anyone has any more suggestions!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:05 AM on July 9, 2008

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