The Weekend Contributor Pool is dry as a bone this weekend, so I was going to go out last night after work and just shoot some random photos around town for today’s post. The only problem with this plan was that when I left work and went outside it was freezing as fuck-all outside, so I ditched that plan and came home.
I started rooting around in boxes filled with old clippings and magazines from my past in the MBIP World Headquarters and found the June/July 1992 issue of POP magazine. I’ve written about POP before, but POP magazine was a publication I started in 1990 and it was sort of a combination of a local People magazine with equal parts Mad magazine and National Lampoon thrown in for oddball measure. You can read more about that magazine here.
I was the original editor and publisher but sometime in 1992 Jay Goldberg came along and took over the publisher reins to try and make some money with the magazine, leaving me time to concentrate on the editorial end of the magazine, which was a full time job unto itself. One of the great things about having Jay as the publisher is that he was and still is, a concert promoter who brings in bands to Peoria.
As I was putting this summer issue of POP together back in 1992, Jay had told me he was bringing in Van Halen for a concert and if I wanted a backstage pass. I was always a Van Halen fan—granted I liked the original line up the best with “Diamond” Dave as the front man and this was the Sammy Hagar version, but I still thought it would be cool to get a backstage pass and maybe meet the band.
“I’m going to try and get a photo of Eddie Van Halen holding a copy of the magazine,” I told Jay in his office.
Jay shook his head and said, “I don’t know, I’ve heard he’s kind of weird about stuff like that.”
Well, that was all I needed to hear. My obsessive nature kicked in and I was determined to get it. The night for the concert came and as you can see from the image below, I got it! Eddie’s holding a copy of POP at the bottom of the full page photo-essay on being backstage at the concert.
Back then, I didn’t really tell the actual story of what it was like to get that photo. It was kind of a pain and a weird experience. And now I’m going to do just that. Below are the separate pictures and what I remember about taking each one of them for this full page article in the June/July, 1992 issue of POP magazine.
(Note: The pictures are a little blurry and grainy, but what do you expect, they’re blown up from a magazine page that’s over 20 years old. God, do I feel old!)
Here’s Jay with Nancy Stein who was with Warner Brothers Records at the time. I remember saying to Jay that I was going to get the Eddie photo. The whole day I obsessed over it and I was bound and determined to make it happen.
I’ve always loved this photo of longtime local radio broadcasters, Jamie Markley and Scott Robbins strangling each other. Jamie was at WWCT back then and I think Scott was at WBNQ in Bloomington. I used to plug the magazine on both of their shows and I think this was the first and only time that I had met Scott in person. These days they’re back together with a lot less hair and are doing a great and entertaining afternoon radio show on WMBD radio. Check out their facecrack page for updates on their show and other assorted wackiness.
This is Steve Makowski and Paul Zaio. The caption in the magazine said that Steve was part of Doc Roc’s, which was a nightclub bringing live acts to Peoria at the time. Paul was his friend. I didn’t really know either of these guys, but Doc Roc’s advertised in POP, so I wanted to get a picture of Steve. I have to confess that other than getting these shots for the magazine, my main concern for the evening was trying to drink as much of the free beer that was available backstage as possible.
And here comes Van Halen. Now here’s the deal about this whole thing that made it uncomfortable for me. This was what’s called a, “meet and greet.” Most of the people back here had won the chance to meet the band via radio contests and were there in groups. Since Jay got me a pass to get in there, it was just me, so I was a group of one. I remember my “group” number was four.
Right before the band came into the room, a publicist for Van Halen came in and laid down the rules for this meet and greet. She said when your number was called, you should go up to get your picture taken with the band by their photographer, who was stationed near a wall opposite where the band would soon be standing.
The publicist said no one should talk to the band as they had to keep things moving and no one was to take pictures. She said that after you got your photo taken you were to go up to a desk next to the photographer, give that person your name and address so they could mail the photo to you and then move on to let the next group get their photo taken.
Well, as you can see from the above photo, I didn’t take her “no photo” rule to heart. I was there to get my Eddie photo and no one was going to stop me. Especially some asshole publicist spewing out all kinds of rules at a rock ‘n’ roll show. I started discreetly taking photos when the publicist wasn’t looking my way. Eddie Van Halen looked pretty fucked up and here he looks like he’s about to hurl!
Here’s one where I put the camera in zoom mode to get a shot of Eddie and Sammy Hagar and wondered what the woman in the picture was looking at? Har har har.
Okay, shortly after I took this, my number was called and my heart was racing. I had a jacket on and stuffed my camera into my pocket and walked up to Van Halen with a copy of POP magazine rolled up and sticking out of my other jacket pocket. They all looked at me and were laughing because I was all alone.
“What’s a matter pal, ain’t you got no friends?” Sammy Hagar shouted out and everybody was laughing at me, but I didn’t give a shit. I was on a mission to get my photo. I dutifully went up and stood next to Eddie for my “meet and greet” photo. After they took it, I took my copy of POP out of my jacket and handed it to Eddie who I mentioned was kind of out of it. He instinctively grabbed it. Perfect!
“Just hold that magazine up, will you Eddie?” I said while taking out my camera. Eddie was holding the magazine but didn’t seem to get what was going on, he seemed to be in a little bit of a daze.
“Sir, please move to the desk, we need to bring our next group up,” The publicist shouted at me. She hadn’t noticed the camera yet. Eddie was still holding the magazine but it was down at his side.
“Eddie, you have to hold up the magazine, right now!” I shouted sternly. Sammy Hagar was staring at me and had a puzzled look on his face.
And then it happened, Eddie held the magazine up and gave me a little smile...
Boom! I got the shot. Seconds after I took it, the publicist charged over and screamed at me, “I said, no photos! Now you’re going to have to give me that film from that camera!”
I had no intention of doing that and I was jamming my camera back into my jacket. As I was figuring out how to get out of the room, Eddie handed the magazine back to me and I said to him, “You can keep that if you want.”
Right at that time Sammy Hagar said to Eddie, “Hey look, now you’re the guy posing for ads, Ed!”
I don’t know what that meant, I can only assume that Eddie had teased Sammy about being in a print ad or something, but it pissed Eddie off and he threw the magazine at me and said, “I don’t want this fucking thing.”
I picked up the magazine and said, “What a dick,” in Eddie’s direction and now the publicist grabbed my arm and said, “Okay, we have to get that film, now!”
I said, “Alright, hang on a second,” and took my camera out of my jacket, like I was going to play by the rules. She loosened her grip on me and I said, “let’s go over to the desk and I’ll give it to you. Sorry about the trouble.”
She turned and started walking towards the desk and I took my cue to run out of the opposite door and out into the hallways of the backstage area of the Civic Center arena. I found a door that led outside, ran to my car and drove home and worried all night if the picture of Eddie holding the magazine had turned out, this being the pre-digital camera age. I was worried that it might be blurry, maybe I didn’t get the magazine in the shot, and on and on. I slept very fitfully all night long.
The next day I woke up and as soon as the Northwoods Mall opened up, I took my film to the one hour photo store, dropped off the film then went to the record and book stores and whiled away an hour. Finally 60 minutes had ticked away and I went back to the store and nervously paid for the photos and flipped through them till I saw the photo below. Yes! I had gotten my Eddie Van Halen POP shot and all was well within my world!