Fan or professional

I have a little photo-gallery at this Swedish mini-community, where I uploaded a few pics of some old meetings with random “rock stars”.  I tend to get the same question over and over. “How did you get to meet all those legends?”

There’s never just one simple answer to that. If I was to sum it up in just two words, it would be luck and determination.

Some figure that it was through the job that I met all those. Maybe some of them, but I got my job through luck and determination as well.

Some thought I was just some blonde groupie-wannabe (you always get that shit when you’re a girl and you’re hanging with musicians) and I was accused of getting “special treatment” because of it.

I don’t know if I should laugh or get pissed off. Cause if those who said that had ANY idea what I went through to get to say hello to Dio or Steven Tyler or whoever back in the early days….! I remember standing for hours out in the pouring rain outside a stage door cause I wanted to meet Lemmy.

I was freezing my ass off outside Aerosmith’s hotel cause I wanted to meet Joe Perry (and ended up getting royal treatment by Steven Tyler instead. Me and a friend had initially been waiting in the hotel lobby, but back in those days when rock’n’roll was huge, hotel staff used to throw out everybody who weren’t guests at the hotel. Steven felt bad for us and invited us in, telling the staff it was okay and took time to talk to us and sign whatever….).

I’ve been hanging for hours in hotel lobbies, freezing outside of hotels in the middle of the night after shows, and travelled for miles to see some of my favorite bands. No royal or special treatment there, trust me.

Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P decided that he wanted to invite me on the bus the last Swedish date of the Helldorado tour. The reason? I had been hanging with the guys from the opening act Get Animal and with Chris Holmes during their tour through Scandinavia, and also been front row at every show rocking out.

When Blackie was heading for the bus after the show in Malmo, there were lots of fans standing there waiting for him (including me) and he spotted me – pointed at me and went: “YOU! Come with me!”

I was scared chickenshit, thought he was pissed because I had been taking pictures or something. When a tall guy like Blackie, who isn’t exactly known for being Mr Sunshine, points at you and wants you to come with him, you don’t know WHAT to expect!

I followed him up on the bus and the manager closed the door in all the other fans’ faces. Bam! And there I was, thinking “oh crap… now what?”.

He totally changed his usual angry attitude, smiled and said: “I’ve seen you at every show. You seem to really enjoy the shows. So I thought I would do this. What have you got for me?”

He figured that I wanted something signed, and he was right. He signed everything, smiled, answered a few questions and was just very sweet. I’ve never seen Blackie like that.

So, it’s like every situation has had it’s own story and explanation. But I never got any “special treatment” just because I was a girl.

I used to take time off from school and hang all day outside a venue and watch the activity (I actually still enjoy doing that…) and there was always some bored bus driver or crew-guy who got curious and wanted to know what I was there for. We would end up talking, and a lot of times I would get invited to meet the band before or after the show. I never asked for it. They would offer.

And contrary to popular belief, very few (almost none) treated me like a groupie. I think I only got that shit maybe twice. One of them was David Lee Roth‘s bodyguard and the second one was some tour manager working for Megadeth back in the early 90’s. I got the “what’s in it for me?” crap, but I’d rather walk away than ever stoop to the groupie-level. Not my thing.

[David Lee Roth, not an easy man to get to stand still for two seconds…!]

I think I even had an advantage sometimes for not being just another groupie, which was otherwise extremely common back in the “good old days”.

I remember backstage after a Skid Row show in stockholm, I overheard Sebastian saying to his body guard “Get them out of here...” and nodded at the horde of stoked groupies. I quickly got up and started walking towards the exit. Didn’t want to get humiliated by being thrown out, I could walk myself thankyouverymuch…

Then I heard Sebastian yelling: “DANIELA!! WHERE ARE YOU GOING??”

“But you said…..”

“Not YOU! Get back in here!”

He totally cleared the backstage area but wanted me to stay, and we just spent the evening talking music. That was the only time groupies were not welcome backstage, by the way. Usually there was a whole smorgasbord of them after every show.

[With Sebastian after their opening gig with Guns n Roses in the Globe, Stockholm, 1991]

My point is that I think I distinguished myself a little back then, because I didn’t sleep with bands. Groupies were the big thing in the 80’s or 90’s – kind of part of the whole rock’n’roll dream package.

I was there because I loved their music with all my heart and they knew it. At the same time, I wasn’t a pain in the ass bringing my whole record collection to get it signed,  it was totally up to them if they wanted me around or not.

So, the answer to “how did you meet all those?” is – I was determined and lucky. Invested many hours waiting for the artists I wanted to meet.

After I got my job writing about hard rock for Kvällsposten (major Swedish newspaper) in 1988, I could have met all of those by just doing interviews. And a lot of times I did. It just wasn’t the same. And I was torn between my two roles – professional or fan, and I couldn’t get those two roles to co-exist for a very long time.

When I was doing interviews, I felt a responsibility to be a pro, cause I wasn’t representing myself, I was representing a newspaper, a magazine, a radio station or a TV-station. It didn’t feel right to start asking for autographs or telling them how much I admired their music. I would have lost all credibility if I had done that.

So I separated those two roles. But that also felt weird. Once again remembering Skid Row – I had done an interview with them at the hotel in London 1991 (they played Docklands, the time when Sebastian wiped his ass with a newspaper article he didn’t like, in front of a few thousand people…).

After the show, I was among the fans outside the hotel cause I just wanted to be a FAN. Vanessa Warwick, who was working for MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball back in those days) arrived in a taxi, and saw me among the fans. She gave me a puzzled look and I’m sure she didn’t understand why I would be freezing there in the middle of the night, when I had already met the band earlier that day under more professional circumstances.

That was precisely the point. I didn’t want to be “professional” with bands I really liked. I was more comfortable not “being worthy”.

But that was then. We’re talking 20+ years ago. I was young, my attitude was different, well – I was a different person. NOW I don’t think it’s much of a problem being a fan and a professional at the same time. Maybe cause I’m not nearly as starstruck as I used to be.

Things are just way more…”cool” nowadays. :-) In some cases I’ve even been a part of the business longer than some of the bands I meet, so I feel differently about it.
Thank god. It only took me a lifetime to learn how to deal with that stuff.

So – I guess that maybe answers the question I keep getting “How did you meet all those legends?” 

I just wanted to. The rest kind of happened by itself. :)

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