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Roger Waters calls out “autograph professionals” on Facebook

Like it or not, autographs are big business. Anyone who has spent time tracking down celebrity autographs has stood side by side with a dealer whose primary interest is in profiting off the signatures they obtain. No matter which side of the ethical debate you stand on, you can’t argue that this commercialism has affected the signing habits of celebrities and their attitudes toward autograph seekers.

In a December 9 post to his official Facebook fan page, former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters recently detailed his frustration with autograph dealers and explained his new signing rules intended to thwart the sale of his autograph:

I’m backstage in San Jose. Two hours before showtime. I can’t believe we’re 47 gigs in with only 8 to go. It’s been very moving thank you all for coming if you did.

Something has been bothering me – I have been besieged by autograph professionals. These are guys who make a living getting guitars and stuff signed and then selling them on eBay. We see them at every show and they get in the way of genuine fans who want an autograph. It concerns me that I may have driven past genuine fans because they were hidden in the massed ranks of pros. So here’s the new deal. I will no longer sign anything but albums which I will personalize. So pros be warned no more guitars, scratch plates, photos, drum heads or any of the rest of that crap, make room for the real fans.

Roger

Personally, I take no issue with Mr. Waters’ decision and laud him for being so transparent with his fans. He could have easily shut down his signing, but instead proposed a solution that would fulfill supporters’ autograph requests (I would reason a graph is even more sentimental with a personalization) while minimizing the ability for dealers to turn a big profit on premium items. Incidentally, Waters-signed guitars are listed on eBay with asking prices ranging from several hundred dollars to well over a grand.

I do find it interesting that Waters is limiting eligible items to albums. I mean, if he’s personalizing everything and effectively quashing its resale value, wouldn’t it make sense that a fan should be able to get any item signed? Not so fast. There are techniques—from using Magic erasers to applying isopropyl alcohol—to remove a personalization from many items, particularly those that are plastic-based or have a lacquer. A signature on a cardboard album cover would be difficult to manipulate without damaging the item. I wonder if this at all impacted his decision or if he simply determined that the purchase of an album (which directly supports Waters) was the most accurate way to identify a true fan.

What do you think about Roger Waters’ new signing rules?

About the author: is the founder of Autograph University. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and two sons. Connect with him on Twitter at @mattraymond.

9 comments… add one

  • canadagraphs December 15, 2010, 9:45 pm

    Hi Matt

    He was here in Vancouver 2 days after the announcement. In fact, we were the very next show on the schedule.

    Some of what he stated he held to.

    I can confirm, he will NOT sign guitars, picks or 8×10 photos.

    He WILL sign stuff other than albums though. CDs, official tour merchandise such as programs, being the other items.

    he also never personalized any of the items unless asked.

    Overall, in 2 days being here, he stopped and signed no less than 3 times, with almost all the same people there each time (with a couple new people here & there) & his handler knew it was all the same people, but didnt make a fuss about it.

    All Roger seemed concerned about, was whether or not the item was something official (album, CD, tour program etc) as opposed to generic guitars or unlicenced photos where there was perhaps no $ going towards him. Which I see no problem with myself. Even on 0 days advanced warning of his change in habits, we still were all able to find albums & CDs in used stores to get done. Only 2 people (1 known dealer & 1 unknown person) actually got burned by his rules.

  • Matt Raymond December 16, 2010, 9:31 pm

    Great insight from the field. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Jason December 27, 2010, 12:11 pm

    I tried for Roger here in Cleveland a few months back….his handlers got him and the rest of the band on the bus in seconds…….10 feet from the hotel door to the bus. I didn’t have a chance to get him. I just had The Wall cd cover. What stinks was I was the only one out there waiting for him. Roger use to be good TTM….I might try him through that venue after the tour is done.

  • Matt Raymond December 28, 2010, 7:40 am

    That’s a bummer – from what I’ve read he’s typically a great signer. You’ll get him next time.

  • Arne Berg June 28, 2012, 8:01 am

    Just to add to this story. Mr Waters did sign albums unpersonalized here in Ottawa on Monday and did sign an 8×10 for my friend. It is a strict 1 item per and the handler got out of the vehicle to get us to form a line. I had him sign The Wall Vinyl. It was pouring rain and he still stopped. Cool guy.

  • Matt Raymond July 3, 2012, 4:53 am

    Thanks for the update Arne — great to have the latest info on Waters’s signing habits. Fantastic item!

  • Brett December 4, 2012, 6:41 pm

    I met Roger twice in the past six months. Once in Hartford on his way into an arena for The Wall tour and then in NYC this past weekend as he was appearing in a play in a tiny theater. Both times he stopped on his way in to the venue (two very different venues Hartford was a large arena, NYC was a tiny theater) and signed. Again, very strict limit of 1 item per person, but Roger gives huge, beautiful signatures. It seems he’s still not signing guitars, but everything else was fair game… he did albums, posters, 8x10s, 16x20s… it didn’t matter, and most of the people were dealers. Also interesting to note that the play he was in last week in NYC ran for 7 days. I only went once but reports from the other people who were graphing there said Roger signed every day on his way in and sometimes even on his way out too. And most of the people were the same dealers there every day. This guy is like death and taxes… Roger is as reliable an in-person signer as you’ll ever find.

  • Matt Raymond December 4, 2012, 7:57 pm

    Excellent update, thanks Brett!

  • Erica October 6, 2017, 6:44 pm

    Hi ! I’m trying to get a TTM autograph from him for my husband’s birthday. I want to send the album to the correct place, of course. Do you know of a current address? All the threads I am finding are a few years old. Thanks a lot for any info.

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