Stars Align: How Singer-Songwriter Judy Collins Talked To Me During A Concert

Roger Marsh
Judy Collins in 2008.Photo byWikipedia.

Serendipitous Celebrity Encounters

Have you had a chance positive encounter with a celebrity? I’ve had so many, I decided to make a list. And it’s long. This series will feature some of these often very odd or funny situations. And I’d like to tell your story here too.

Singer-songwriter Judy Collins was live in concert at St. Bonaventure University, Olean, NY, about 1976 or 1977. I was a journalism student there and an avid photographer for the student newspaper, annual yearbook, and other campus publications.

I received permission to shoot the concert as the university had to check with the performer directly to make sure I was allowed to nose around the stage during the event.

Shooting happened from different perspectives during the concert all without the use of flash so I was not intrusive. I was always looking for that one fantastic shot. I noticed that the stage was built up to a height about six feet above the main floor, and a series of giant speakers were positioned about three feet away from the stage all along its front.

As thousands of fans watched Collins sing, I began crawling in that three-foot section until I arrived center-stage. Then pushing my back up against the back of the speaker and positioning my feet up against the stage, I framed her.
Collins in Hotel Hilton Amsterdam, 1971.Photo byWikipedia.

This was not the most comfortable position to be in while watching a Judy Collins concert, but this was as close to her as I could get and I began capturing some awesome images.

Collins frequently talked to the audience between tunes and just as one song came to an end, I noticed she was staring down into the pit directly at me. And there was suddenly silence from her microphone.

Then Judy Collins spoke into the microphone, but not to the audience — she was talking to me.

“Hey,” she said. “How are doing down there? Are you okay? That doesn’t look very comfortable?”

I smiled and then spoke.

“I’m doing fine,” I said. “Not very comfortable, but I’m getting some great shots.”

Now remember that the audience could not see me.

“Okay,” she said smiling. And back to the concert.

I stayed in position for about another 10 minutes shooting and then crawled back to where I could stand. My concert images would now be in the 1976 or 1977 St. Bonaventure Yearbook. My copies were lost in a flood during the 1980s.

Your Celebrity Story

Looking for fun and positive chance encounters with celebrities. No shaming or bashing — just interesting, strange, wild, or outrageously weird encounters. Keep it short — no more than 300 words. I would be rewriting your story, and using your story to quote you. I would identify you by first name and city-state — so like Cheryl from Ottumwa, Iowa. I will pick the best ones and include them in my column here under one of my own stories. Please send it to:

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ROGER MARSH is a media content producer with works in print, film, television, web, and stage. His “UFO Traffic Reports” published more than 7,000 times since 2009. He was a case researcher for the History channel’s “Hangar 1: The UFO Files.”

Franklinville, NY

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