ROLLING STONES’ DRUMMER, CHARLIE WATTS, SIGNATURE ON STATIONERY FROM PHILADELPHIA FOUR SEASONS HOTEL (8/27/1989)!
CHARLIE WATTS’ AUTOGRAPH: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL PHILADELPHIA (August 27, 1989)
While working as a security guard for Spectaguard, the events security firm owned by Spectacore, I met an Associated Press photographer that I had bumped into occasionally while I was doing photography for local newspapers. I asked her if she heard anything about the Rolling Stones. Surprisingly, she did.
“They’re scheduled to arrive at the Four Seasons Hotel tomorrow afternoon,” she said, adding, “we could use a photo of them.” I thanked her and began planning, scheming is more like it.
The next morning, Sunday, August 27th, I had a Spectaguard assignment at an exhibition hall near Valley Forge. It was early afternoon when my shift ended, and drove back downtown to the Four Seasons Hotel. After parking, I entered the hotel wearing my Spectaguard uniform: black pants, blue baseball cap and a yellow windbreaker with security embroidered in red across the back. I took a seat in the rear lobby and began reading a newspaper. A Pete Rose story was prominently featured in the sports pages.
My camera was hidden in a gym bag inconspicuously placed behind my chair. I sat there more than an hour, waiting, wondering if the Stones were going to show up, or if they already arrived.
In the distance, I heard a couple of voices with English accents talking about a stadium. I hit the jackpot. One of the men I recognized as the longtime Stones’ assistant, Alan Dunn. The other fellow had long dark hair. They approached the lounge where I was sitting, taking a couple of seats across from me. A blonde haired man, about 38 years old, joined them. His neck and shoulders were rounded and firm, like a football player’s from years of hoisting weights. The fellow, I later learned, was Bob Bender, Jagger’s body guard, and a former linebacker at Kent State. He quit the football team to work for the Stones. His backup was a player who became the anchor of the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty years when the won four Super Bowls under Chuck Knoll. His name: Jack Lambert.
Bender, Dunn and the other fellow began talking about the Stones. Bender was holding a walkie talkie, wearing short pants and high-top sneakers. Shortly after, another well-dressed man joined them. I recognized Charlie Watts immediately. His silver hair was longer than usual, his voice was deep, and montoned and they began talking about the rehearsal schedule.
I was right next to them, listening to every syllable, hiding behind the front pages of the morning newspaper. My heart was racing, sped by the adrenaline of joy. Watts walked away, heading toward the hotel gift shop. I introduced myself to Bob Bender, telling him that I had been working the overnight security shift at the stadium, and asked him if I could approach Watts for an autograph. He gave me the “okay.”
Watts was browsing through several magazines when I approached him. A shot of Ringo shared the cover with a Stones group shot from the Stones’ Steel Wheels Press Conference in Grand Central Station a month earlier. As Watts skimmed, I extended a slip of stationery, and asked for his autograph. He smiled, without saying a word, a began writing, “The Rolling Stones love CB.” Watts writes CB for “Charlie Boy.”
I returned to the lounge, where I sat for another hour reading my newspaper, until a small crowd began gathering near the elevators to my left.
Hotel security personnel took posts along side the Stones’ massive body guards. I heard chatter over several radios, quickly packed my gear and headed for the front door, taking a position beside a couple of cars that were idling outside. I suspected the Stones were heading out to the stadium. I was right!
Suddenly a wave of suited security personnel and wide-thighed Stones’ people were leading the pack like a couple of Packers’ pulling guards, trying to turn the corner. I saw Jagger sandwiched in the center and ran toward him as he headed toward me, I got off several shots before he hopped in a black Lincoln Town Car and sped off. My flash fired several times into the tinted glass, later revealing Jagger and a couple of his children, Jade (from Bianca and Karis from Marsha Hunt).
After the entourage departed, I called Amy Sancetta at the Associated Press office, located a short distance away, in the Franklin Plaza Hotel. I dropped off the film and headed to Atlantic City, where I was scheduled to work security at a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert at Bailey’s outdoor amphitheater. After I arrived, I called Amy, inquiring about the photo, she was excited for me and said, “You got him, he’s looking right into your camera, it’s a nice shot.” I felt great!
The next morning I darted to a newsstand, and bought copies of both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. My Jagger shot was published in the entertainment section of the Inquirer along with my byline. Jagger, who was pictured wearing sunglasses and a Picasso’s Cat T-shirt, was accompanied by his Jamaican body guard, Rowen Brade. In the background several Four Seasons Hotel employees were visible.
This was the second consecutive time that I had the first Stones published photos of them arriving in Philadelphia. I also had the 1981 cover of the Philadelphia Daily News during their “Tattoo You” Tour.
The Jagger arrival photo is also posted on this blog.