BOSTON – RR Auction worked with lifelong rock ’n’ roll memorabilia collector John Brennan, to present an exceptional sampling amassed over four decades of following the greatest names in music across the country. RR Auction’s inaugural John Brennan Collection bidding began May 10 and will conclude May 17. View the fascinating fully illustrated auction catalog at LiveAuctioneers.com.
From his early days of autograph collecting in New York City, where he met the elites of music, like the Rolling Stones and Madonna and to his later years in Los Angeles and Seattle, following the tours of Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana, John Brennan became known by these guitar greats and welcomed into their inner sanctums.
RR Auction is presenting more than 500 hand-picked items out of thousands—signed photographs, albums, 45 rpms, posters and guitars that chronicle nearly half a century of musical legends.
Included is a rare fully signed Nirvana oversize photograph (above). The color glossy photo of Nirvana decked out in their classic grunge fashion, signed by bands iconic frontman Kurt Cobain, “Kurt”; bassist Krist Novoselic, “Krist”; and drummer Dave Grohl, “If there’s one thing that would put me on the brink of total insanity, it would definitely be signing autographs all [expletive] day long. David.”
Brennan first met Nirvana in January 1992, in the lobby of NBC when they were at the Thursday music rehearsal for a “Saturday Night Live” performance. After that, he followed them everywhere, before they were famous. “I just knew.” He met them a total of 8-12 times. He followed them all of 1992 and 1993. Drummer Dave Grohl is seen wearing a “Secret Sounds” t-shirt on the album cover for Muddy Banks of Wishkah, which Brennan gave him. “Dave was always difficult to deal with; Kurt was the easy one,” recalls Brennan.
Instruments include a remarkable cherry-red guitar signed by six members of the Rolling Stones. The Fender Squier Stratocaster electric guitar, signed on the body in black felt tip by Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Mick Taylor and Charlie Watts, and on the pickguard by Keith Richards and Bill Wyman.
John Brennan recalled of the Stones, “They’d be in the studio until dawn. We’d be waiting outside.” In 1986, during the Dirty Work era; on 48th Street, NYC, the Stones were recording in the studio and Mick Jagger came out. “We saw him frequently so he wasn’t uptight around us. He tried but couldn’t hail a cab, so we offered him a ride home in my white IROC Camaro. I drove; he sat in the front seat.” Brennan also revealed his diehard devotion, “I once waited outside Mick’s apartment for 18 hours in 1984.” The steadfast autograph seeker “met Keith at least 150 times,” and possesses dozens of candid pictures as mementos.
Paul, George, and Ringo signed Abbey Road album for Brennan. Released in 1969 to immediate success, Abbey Road features classic hits such as Come Together, Something and Here Comes the Sun. Moreover, this iconic cover artwork, showing the four band members in a crosswalk outside Abbey Road Studios, has become one of the most famous and imitated images in the history of popular music.
Reflecting solemnly on Harrison’s reluctance to sign following John Lennon’s 1980 murder at the hands of one-time autograph seeker Mark David Chapman, Brennan remembers “I met him around the time of his solo album (Cloud Nine), and a few times afterward. He wasn’t around much. He wasn’t against signing, per se; he was against getting killed.” Of Harrison, Brennan says, “He was extremely reclusive. I saw him at Heathrow airport in 1988 and near a HandMade Films set; I saw him in NYC at the studio with Clapton in the late 1980s.” And chillingly, when Brennan asked for his autograph Harrison remarked, “Sure — As long as you’re not going to kill me.”
Brennan recalled the difficulty of obtaining Bob Dylan: “He’s tough to get now; all of my autographs and photos were done many years ago. He has a better-quality signature now, but it’s more difficult to get.” In reference to the candid photos of Brennan with Dylan, “The photos of us together are from 1987; he was appearing at a tribute to George Gershwin at Brooklyn Academy of Music. The album offered in this inaugural auction was signed many years later.”
The Grateful Dead toured continually in the late 1980s. Of course, longtime autograph veteran Brennan “knew all the hotels they stayed at in NYC and was all over them from 1985 until the end (when Garcia died in 1995).” Brennan recalled of Garcia, “He was common and I was always there,” and he has several jovial candid photos with the Grateful Dead frontman in NYC to commemorate their frequent meetings.
Brennan recalled Prince’s untouchability, “There was a very small window of accessibility after Purple Rain. But one night, he was in New York, coming back to the hotel after a late night of clubbing. He got out of a car at his hotel, no bodyguards; just like a normal person. This photo of Prince and me, while he was signing, was taken by legendary photographer Vinnie Zuffante [paparazzo famous for getting punched by Sean Penn].” Brennan notes: “Prince was so sought-after. Getting this autograph was like the prom queen giving you a kiss; you don’t forget a special moment like that. It’s like your wedding day; it’s unforgettable.”
RR Auction’s inaugural John Brennan Collection bidding began May 10 and will conclude May 17. Details can be found online at www.rrauction.com.