A diehard Rolling Stones in Germany fan is planning to create a museum in his home town, which will showcase a vast collection of memorabilia from the fathers of rock and roll. It'll be a worldwide first, he says.
The Rolling Stones have been around for nearly half a century
Ulrich Schroeder, 58, isn't likely to be missed, even in a crowd, wearing his top hat and black "shine the light" tunic emblazoned with Rolling Stones badges and myriad emblems.
A former savings-bank clerk, Schroeder has been a fan and high-volume collector of Rolling Stones memorabilia for over 40 years, attending 160 of the British group's concerts around the world.
Now he is to open what he says is "the world's first museum devoted exclusively to the Rolling Stones" in his hometown of Luechow, southeast of the German city of Hamburg.
He has acquired a former supermarket and converted the space to house more than 4,000 Rolling Stones items he has amassed over the years.
With Mick Jagger at the helm, the Rolling Stones continue to draw huge crowds
Schroeder, who expects to invest 500,000 euros ($786,000) in the Stones museum, said the Luechow town council is also backing the project with a 100,000-euro subsidy.
A draw for Stones fans across Europe
Luechow is just a small town with a population of barely 10,000, but Schroeder told DPA news agency that he is not worried on that score.
"The museum is likely to attract fans not only from neighboring cities like Hamburg, Bremen and Wolfsburg, but also from the whole of Europe," he said.
The museum, due to open in 2010, will have a 600-square-meter (6,500 square-foot) exhibition area to display hundreds of the group's T-Shirts, posters, hand-signed instruments, photos, books, DVDs, super-8 and 35-millimetre films, rare Stones single and LP records, concert tickets and press cuttings related to the evergreen pop group.
In addition, Schroeder said he will be exhibiting his own extensive collection of paintings and other art work by Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood.
Banking or sex and rock 'n' roll?
Schroeder has over 4,000 pieces of Stones memorabilia
"Ron Woods is a talented artist who has produced a lot of paintings, etchings, wood cuts and mono prints down the years," said the German. In London, Wood has a company producing copies of his art.
Schroeder agreed in London in the early 1990s to become Woods' personal art vendor, and went on to exhibit and sell Woods' art outside Britain, notably in the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
Invited to attend Wood's 50th birthday party in Ireland in the mid-1990s, Schroeder recalled him jokingly saying: "Do you want to continue earning your living in a savings bank, or with sex, rock 'n' roll?"
Schroeder said he retorted he would like to be the guitarist's art guru. Recently one of Wood's paintings sold for $1 million.
Bad press for Woods
In a DPA phone interview, Schroeder said that when he first contemplated creating a Stones museum, several people in the entertainment business signalled interest, with one collector even offering him a seven-figure sum for his Stones possessions.
"But I'd set my heart on creating the museum in Luechow, out of loyalty to my hometown," he said.
Schroeder served as Wood's personal art vendor
Asked about his long-standing friendship with Wood and his family, Schroeder said at first the link had more to do with art than music.
"I found his paintings exciting and provocative," he said.
Recently, Wood made unwelcome headlines in tabloid newspapers, with reports of alcohol problems and a fling with a 19-year-old Kazakhstani waitress. Schroeder would not discuss the reports.
Not in it for the money
Wrapped up in his museum plans, he says all other rock museums have a wider focus and he believes his will be the first "devoted exclusively to the Rolling Stones."
"I know the museum won't make me rich. But then but that's not the point of the exercise," said the devoted Stones fan.
He is to register the name "Rock & Art Museum Luechow" as an exclusive trademark shortly, said Schroeder. Films and concerts would also be staged in the museum and a "Rock Cafe" will serve food and drinks to visitors.