(And by unexpected, I mean no listing stuff like the time I had drinks with The Pursuit of Happiness at the bar at Mercury Lounge after their gig. That’s too easy.)
1. Gene Simmons, in the XM Radio studios in New York. Unexpected not for the location but for how I wound up hanging out with him. I think he had come in to do some promos. I worked down the hall so at the radio tech’s suggestion I stopped by for no particular reason. This was late-period dickwad Gene Simmons, not mid-period cool-as-fuck I-wish-I-were-in-Kiss Gene Simmons, so he was grouchy and bewigged and all sorts of imagination deflating, but still, Gene Simmons.
2. Ira Kaplan, selling his own band’s T-shirts before one of the Yo La Tengo Hanukkah gigs at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. I was all “hey, whoa, you’re Ira! from the band!” and he was all “well, yeah, I am.” We hung out for a minute or two, mostly because he was selling me a T-shirt.
3. My Sister’s Machine, at the Cheesequake rest stop on the Garden State Parkway at 3 in the morning after their gig opening for King’s X at Tradewinds down the Jersey shore, which I had just seen. They never made it, but I still recall the juxtaposition of a band in full metal mode, off stage, buying lukewarm fast food. And milk, if memory serves. We were all “hey, we just saw you! nice gig!” and they were all “yeah, um, we’re not here ok?”
4. Taj Mahal, at a summer camp, hanging out with a bunch of us CITs after he performed for the camp as a favor to the owner, who was a friend of his. This meeting forever changed how I listened to music and was reprised 18 years later, but those are stories for another day.