PopGrotto would like to introduce you to the collector’s collector, Jason Sprinzen!
Q: How long have you been collecting and what inspired you to start?
A: My father shared his passion for collecting and passed along his enormous appreciation for nostalgic objects that are beautiful. It was a gift that’s filled with great memories, flea market adventures and quality father and son time. Exquisitely hand painted toy soldiers and Lionel Trains from the 1940‘s were my dad’s thing.
I began my first collection when I was eight years old. In 1978, Star Wars was THE toy at the time and I had them all. I was hooked man! In 1983, I turned thirteen and my enthusiasm for Stormtroopers and spaceships immediately dropped off. I discovered Led Zeppelin, guitars and rock ‘n’ roll. A new collection took shape.
Q: What do you collect?
A: I collect SHOWCO crew t-shirts. SHOWCO- from Dallas, Texas was the main touring company throughout the 1970’s. They staged concerts for every major artist from Alice Cooper to ZZ Top. At the beginning of a tour, SHOWCO and a local t-shirt shop from Denton, Texas would get together to create a small run of shirts. They were the crew’s identity and “work uniform”. However, the musicians in Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Genesis and the Osmond’s (just to name a few) loved wearing them too!
Q: What’s the decisive factor when you purchase an item?
A: Absolutely none. If it’s a SHOWCO and not in my collection I’m going for it.
Q: How do you take care of and store your collectibles?
A: Fortunately, a good portion of the one hundred and seventy one SHOWCO tees I have are wearable. I love wearing them out until they’re grubby, toss them into the wash and hang ‘em up to dry just like the crew did back in the day. The shirts that don’t fit are labeled, folded and placed into storage bins for easy access.
Q: Do you ever sell off portions of your collections? If so, why?
A: I don’t sell anything. I believe every SHOWCO shirt has an important place in my collection. These shirts are extremely rare, so if one does reveal itself, the hoops I’d have to jump through to get it would forever make me think twice about selling it.
Q: What is the coolest piece that you found in the most unusual place, the total surprise, so to speak?
A: A few years back, I was contacted by a gentleman I didn’t know on Facebook. I was living in Brooklyn, New York at the time. He said he was doing a Google search on SHOWCO shirts and my name came up all over the place. It turns out he was living right down the street from me and had a SHOWCO tee he thought I’d be interested in. In the late 1970’s he worked for a small Brooklyn sound company. When the Bee Gee’s rolled into Madison Square Garden for their 1979 “Spirits Having Flown” tour, his company was contacted to bring in some supplemental sound gear. For his hard work, he was given a cool 1979 Bee Gee’s SHOWCO tee and an all access pass. I purchased both. I’ve searched the world for these shirts but never thought I would find one right down the street from me.
Q: What is your holy grail?
A: My “holy grail” would be Ronnie Van Zant’s – the late, great lead singer from Lynyrd Skynyrd – SHOWCO shirt. It was Ronnie’s favorite shirt. If you do a search you’ll see him wearing it on and off stage more than any other shirt he owned. It’s been under my care since 2009 and I’ve touched it only a few times.
Q: We hear that you are doing a book, would you like to tell us a little about it?
A: I think I was like most kids growing up the 1970’s and 80‘s. My room was filled with rock posters from my favorite bands and I would stare at these images for hours. I started to realize a common thread and noticed that a few of the musicians I loved were wearing SHOWCO t-shirts. What’s SHOWCO? Was it a club? A bar? A gang? Man… there was something about that simple and undeniable logo that attracted me and I needed to find out more. It wasn’t until years later, I discovered SHOWCO- from Dallas, Texas was the premier sound, lighting and full rock n’ roll production company that started the concert touring business. Eventually, my curiosity grew into a research project to discover the history of this company. I began a worldwide search to track down the former employees and principles and hope for an interview. This was no easy feat. Most of these individuals never shared their road experiences with anyone. A long process of trust needed to be established. Over time, I was led behind the curtain and introduced to the inner-circle. A paradigm shift took place and the realization for a book began. I’ve been working on SHOWCO: 10,000 Nights on the Road- The Little Company From Texas That Invented Big Stadium Rock n’ Roll since 2006 and it’s been a journey of discovery, heartbreak, setbacks, excitement and most important- growth.
Q: How do you like PopGrotto?
A: I can’t say enough about PopGrotto. It’s a great place to organize your collection. The site is constantly evolving and it’s user friendly. I appreciate that because I’m a fan and contributor. It’s got that built in coolness factor. The site promotes passion, education, sharing and community. And if that’s not enough, PopGrotto showcases some of the greatest collections in the world. What’s cooler than that?
You can find Jason’s collections at the following link: https://popgrotto.com/sprinz77