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Michael Salkind’s 10 tips for stalking

Be like Mike


  • Marc Raab
Meeting rock stars is just like hunting, but with less blood. You do not want to startle your prey.
1 Be patient. A mark can become available at any time. Arrive as early as possible because, frequently, your only chance is before the show. Plus good parking and daylight are your friends. Some musicians come to sign things at the merch table after, but you rarely know who will, and it is a very small percentage.

2 Don’t hesitate. If you’re not sure it’s the person you’d like to meet, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Mild embarrassment, if you’re wrong, is bearable.

3 Be assertive. But not aggressive. Your records aren’t going to sign themselves.

4 Be invisible. Draw no attention to yourself until the kill.

5 Be nice. To everyone. You will never know who your allies are until the end, be they road crew, security, stage crew or band members. If you cross any of them, things can go south. See Tip 3.

6 Trust no one. Do not ask other people to do your dirty work (though sometimes they will), and you do not want to ask questions to alarm participants, like when, where and how. You’re a stalker, not a reporter. If you are told your mark has left the scene, it is almost certainly a lie.

7 Know your mark. What others say about a musician is rarely correct, and some of the ones with the worst reputations are the nicest, if you approach them correctly. Aggressive icky people will tell you some of the worst encounter stories, because they are aggressive icky people. Remember your own past experiences: Jackson Browne will sign one item (and will only smile in a picture every other decade or so), Steve Martin will sign three things. Ray Davies, Nick Lowe and Todd Rundgren will sign some or all of what you have, depending on their mood that day.

8 Take no (or enough) for an answer. But only from the artist. Handlers (managers, agents, offspring) who try to interfere are frequently ineffective if you connect directly with the mark. Glen Campbell signed a large pile of records for me, despite his daughter’s strong efforts to drag him away.

9 Avoid movie stars who are pretending to be rock stars. Or rock stars from the ’70s who have not been popular since the ’70s. They have massive, insurmountable egos, and want nothing to do with you. A noteworthy exception: Mick Jones (the Clash one, not the Foreigner one).

10 Try to have some proof that your intention is not to sell the signed items. EBay has spoiled the celebrity encounter. Perhaps have a compilation with you that has already been signed by others. Be ready for the question: “Are you going to sell these?” Say “No.”

10.5 Don’t be creepy. Be very nice and respectful, but not all gooshy. The hanging out is creepy enough.

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