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Country USA

Style Hard Rock
PhotobucketAutograph began in late 1983 originally as a solo project for singer, songwriter & guitarist Steve Plunkett, who had recently left the band Silver Condor. Plunkett then began playing and recording his own material with a group of his musician friends, most of whom had previously played with him in other bands.

On lead guitar was Steve Lynch, who had played with Plunkett in the band Looker.

Bassist Randy Rand knew Plunkett from their days together in Wolfgang, a prominent club band in Los Angeles, California, and which has been described as a local legend, of which Kevin Dubrow, (lead singer of Quiet Riot) once said, “They smoked us all… they got a better response than us and Van Halen”.

Keyboardist Steve Isham, who had also earlier played with mutual acquaintance Holly Penfield, was brought in to give the fledgling band a more modern sound.

Drummer Keni Richards, an old bandmate with Plunkett from John Doe rounded out the band’s makeup. Richards’ friendship with Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth was instrumental in leading to Autograph’s big break the following year.

Quickly, this group of musicians began playing and recording together, taking the form of an actual band. Plunkett chose the name “Autograph” for the band, having been inspired by hearing Def Leppard’s similarly titled song, “Photograph,” on the radio. They recorded their first rough demos in late 1983, but played them only for a few close friends. One of these friends was Andy Johns, a famous record producer who Steve Plunkett had met while helping singer Joe Cerisano produce Silver Condor’s second album Trouble At Home. Johns invited the band to re-record and upgrade those demos at the world-famous Record Plant Studios for free under his guidance. Keni Richards then played the demo for Roth, who subsequently invited the band to open for them in their 1984 tour. The band rose to prominence opening for Van Halen, ultimately playing 48 shows, an act of distinction for an unsigned band. Due to their rising popularity, Autograph then signed a contract with RCA Records following a performance at Madison Square Garden in New York City in late 1984.

The band’s debut album, Sign in Please, was completed and released in October of that year, but did not make an appearance on any record charts until January 1985. The album contains the band’s only major hit and now signature song, “Turn Up the Radio.” The song itself was one of the last ones recorded for the album, and the band members were initially very lukewarm toward it. The song became a top-30 hit, pushing sales past the gold album mark (500,000 copies sold). The album later went platinum. The song was featured in an episode of “Miami Vice” (entitled “Little Prince”) and was also leased out to numerous other films, even further elevating the song’s popularity. Lynch’s guitar work in “Turn Up The Radio”, featuring a distinctive two-handed, fretboard-tapping technique, won him the “Guitar Solo of the Year” award from Guitar Player magazine in 1985.

The band also recorded a song titled “You Can’t Hide From the Beast Inside” for the film Fright Night. Other songs from the Sign in Please album, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me” and “Deep End,” along with “Take No Prisoners,” which would soon appear on the band’s follow-up album, were featured in the 1985 film My Secret Admirer, starring C. Thomas Howell, Kelly Preston, Corey Haim, Lori Laughlin and Casey Siemaszko.
PhotobucketA second album, That’s the Stuff, was quickly recorded and released in the fall of 1985, and the group went on tour in support of several other bands, including Mötley Crüe and Heart. Although record sales were disappointing in comparison to their first album, it still achieved near gold status. Supported by the single, “Blondes in Black Cars” and the title track, a minor-hit, it eventually peaked at #92 on the Billboard album charts. The band then recorded a song titled “Winning Is Everything” for the film Youngblood.

Autograph recorded a third album which took longer to record than the other two combined. Loud and Clear was released in the spring of 1987. The title song featured a music video with Ozzy Osbourne and Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe as extras. The band also made three appearances on “Headbangers Ball” in support of the album. In October, the band made a cameo in the film Like Father, Like Son, starring Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron. The first song featured was “Dance all Night,” which played briefly, and then they performed the song “She Never Looked That Good for Me” for the film, appearing in a brief cameo as themselves. Despite the three songs being released as singles, the album was not a big success, mostly due to lackluster support from the label.

The band left RCA in early 1988. Isham left the band to pursue other options but was not replaced, as the band felt they no longer needed keyboards and wanted to take a newer and heavier direction. The remaining members began recording a new album in 1988 which they hoped to release sometime the following year, but those plans never occurred due to lack of any type of label support.

Richards also left the band around this time. However, in late 1988 the band once again toured briefly with new drummer Eddie Cross and continued to sporadically record. The band would eventually be offered a new deal with Epic in 1989, but negotiations fell through at the last minute.

In their short time they created three albums of music, toured with several famous bands, including Motley Crue, Heart, Aerosmith, Ronnie James Dio, Van Halen, Bryan Adams, and Whitesnake, but in the end could not sustain their own career.

Disappointed, the remaining members called it quits in December 1989 after only some six years together.

Though the group had disbanded, a few of their music videos (most commonly “Turn Up the Radio”) continued to be played on music video channels and programs such as MTV’s Headbangers Ball for several years after their initial debut. As that genre of music was still widely popular, every now and then a video from the first two albums would appear on TV, while videos from the their more modern “Loud and Clear” album appeared frequently between 1988 and 1990. However, with the sudden explosion of grunge music, their sound and look went out of style almost overnight, and the older videos in the pop metal/hard rock genre were neglected altogether in favor of the newer genre, which itself was replaced in popularity only a few years later by gangsta rap, hip-hop and R&B music. Thanks to the recent advent of channels such as VH1 Classic, several classic Autograph music videos can once again be seen today.

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– Sign In Please [1984]
– That’s The Stuff [1985]
– Loud And Clear [1987]
– Missing Pieces [1997]
– Buzz [2003]

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