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John Brennan Collection: Brennan’s Big Apple

Robert Eaton
9 min read
Autograph collector John Brennan Rolling Stones Keith Richards

This is second in a series of blogs highlighting the life of autograph collector John Brennan. The Brennan Collection will be offered by RR Auction from May 10-17.


John Brennan’s Big Apple

How long is your commute? Teenager John Brennan was logging 150 miles daily on the round-trip driving back and forth from his home in Shelton, Connecticut, to New York City – and loving every minute of it.

Once he got his first autograph from the B-52s in 1979, he began a hobby that would come to define him. “Early on I realized, ‘this is IT, this is what I want to do in my life’,” Brennan said. He would go on to amass tens of thousands of autographs from all the pivotal music stars of the last 40 years. Brennan’s autograph collection is a labor of love by a passionate rock music fan.

Nobody had what we had in New York City;
it was the rock capital of the world.

Beginning in the early 1980s, Brennan was driving his IROC Camaro back and forth to the city every day, collecting autographs by day, dodging deer at 4 a.m. on the way home. But it was all worth it. Nobody had what we had in New York City,” he recalled. “It was the rock capital of the world.”


Dropping names

Brennan’s timing couldn’t have been better. British rockers like Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Bowie and Sting all lived in New York City in those early years. Sassy unknown Madonna was making “Desperately Seeking Susan” when Brennan met her and co-star Rosanna Arquette in the hip neighborhood of St. Marks Place. From Prince to the Grateful Dead, everyone came through the Big Apple. And John Brennan was there to get their autographs.

One Big Apple hotspot was The Parker New York (aka the Parker Meridien back in the day) – “the” hotel for hanging with celebs, Brennan said. He began an acquaintance with Julian Lennon (and mom Cynthia) and was lucky enough to be at gatherings that included the Grateful Dead, movie and television stars of the day like Don Johnson, and many others. “There were always [famous] people there. I followed Iron Maiden there once,” he said. “But the first time I stayed there was in early 1984 because Van Halen was there, and I met other people. Then Duran Duran was there and all the girls following them. It was like the hot club where all the teens hung out,” he recalled.


See the results of the John Brennan Collection auction here.

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