Matt Lee, who is recognised by Guinness World Record as having the largest Rolling Stones memorabilia collection is showing all he has in a new publication
He’s seen the Rolling Stones 200 times in 28 different countries, has spent millions on his 100,000-piece memorabilia collection and was even an executive producer on one of Ronnie Wood’s solo albums.
Brit Matt Lee is the world’s biggest Rolling Stones super fan, and even has the Guinness World Record for the biggest Rolling Stones collection to prove it.
The 45-year-old from London, who works at a marketing agency, has been collecting objects for over two decades.
And his amazing hoard even caught the eye of the band, including drummer Charlie Watts who passed away last week.
Matt says Charlie’s death at the age of 80 “feels like a friend has died”.
“I’m still numb and completely in shock. It’s the end of the band as I know it,” Matt says. “It’s not like I went to his house for Christmas dinner or anything, but since the year 2000 I met Charlie many, many times. He was very witty and had a dry sense of humour.
“Ronnie was the first Rolling Stones member I met, but Charlie was the second. I would take some of my memorabilia to gigs and showed it to the band when I met them afterwards. Charlie took a lot of interest in the stuff I had, and he would start recognising me.
“He was the heart of the band with his drumming.”
This October, Matt is releasing his book Hot Stuff: The Ultimate Memorabilia Collection and says Charlie was the first of the Rolling Stones to write a handwritten dedication for it.
“It was the first time the band had ever done anything like this for an independent book,” says Matt. “I had to give the others a prod, but I didn’t have to chase Charlie up – it meant a lot to me that he sent it back so quickly.
“The book features pictures of 1,400 pieces from my collection, and in typical blunt Charlie style he wrote back about the stuff in the book saying: ‘there’s a lot of it’.”
Matt’s collection started off with gig posters and Charlie’s drumsticks that he had thrown into the crowd at gigs – Matt says he now has 14 of them.
Since then, it has massively grown and includes many rare items, from the shoes Charlie Watts wore on the Pyramid Stage at their 2013 Glastonbury headline set to one-off pressed vinyl, Ronnie Wood’s art and the L’Wren Scott-designed butterfly jacket worn by Mick Jagger at Hyde Park for their Rolling Stones 50 & Counting concert in 2013 which Matt bought for around £60,000 from Christie’s.
Matt has acquired the items from auction houses, buying or being gifted them from other collectors, and even catching them at gigs – like Mick’s t-shirt that was thrown at a Boston concert – and even from the band themselves.
He’s funded his passion from the proceeds of selling a company with his business partner a few years ago.
One of the most valuable items Matt owns – which he purchased privately and won’t divulge the price of, only saying it cost him “a lot” – is the Rolling Stones’ first contract that the late Brian Jones signed on behalf of the band.
In 2016, Matt loaned it to London’s Saatchi Gallery for their 2016 Rolling Stones showcase Exhibitionism, and it’s since toured around the world with the exhibition to cities including Tokyo, New York and Sydney.
“On the red carpet at the launch, Charlie said it was the most poignant thing for him to see because he’d never seen it before as Jones had gone along to sign it himself,” recalls Matt.
Matt has been a fan of the Rolling Stones since he was 12, when he heard Honky Tonk woman for the first time on cassette and got a drum kit so he could attempt to emulate Charlie’s playing himself.
His first gig was their Wembley concert in July 1995 when he was a student – and since then he’s travelled all over the world to see them, including to China, Argentina and Uruguay.
For Matt, the most memorable concert was the band’s one-off Havana, Cuba gig in 2016, saying he slept in a “windowless room” in the secretive country so he could attend.
And he’s been top of the guest list since 2007, after friend bassist Ronnie Wood handed him a laminated access all areas tour pass, which meant he can go to any concert he likes for free.
“I first met Ronnie at the Jazz Cafe in London in February 2000, and since then we’ve gone for dinner in restaurants and I’ve even gone to his house,” says Matt. “I’ve met Mick and Keith a few times too. People say never meet your heroes, but the Stones have always been very kind and very welcoming to me.”
Matt, who is single, is currently in the process of moving his collection to a private exhibition space. He is planning to open this as a free museum later in the autumn to tie in with his book’s release.
“The band have seen many of the individual items over the years, but they’ve never come to my house to see the collection,” says Matt. “They are very welcome to come round and see it if they are interested.
“The thing about the Rolling Stones is you can never complete the collection, for example you can’t buy every tour outfit. I see it as a sticker album you will never finish, but I’m still on the lookout for new stuff. I’ve probably spent hundreds of thousands this year alone.”
*Hot Stuff: The Ultimate Memorabilia Collection by Matt Lee is published by Welbeck on 14 October (£20, hardback).
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