Record Store Day

Today’s print column mentions Record Store Day, a promotional event. OK, it’s a gimmick, but one I’m fine with supporting. Record stores, bookstores, comic book shops — these are as much my home as my actual home.

The event is Saturday. You can read about it on the official site, which includes a bunch of quotes from prominent musicians and music lovers (I like the one from writer Nick Hornby) and a list of participating stores, albeit no information at all as to the whys and wherefores. We can imagine why, though: Downloading, Amazon and Best Buy are killing record shops. Thus, they’re trying to promote themselves, and good for them.

Rhino Records in Claremont appears to be the only local store participating, not that there’s a lot of competition, other than Dr. Strange in Rancho Cucamonga, which is punk-only, and Glass House Records and Needles and Pins, two small shops in downtown Pomona.

Anyhow, Rhino’s site gives the details on its plans: live music, exclusive 7-inch and LP-only releases, giveaways and a parking lot sale, plus 10 percent off all merchandise. The store, at 225 Yale Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. that day.

It’s billed as the “first annual” Record Store Day and one can only hope record stores exist long enough to have a few sequels.

Feel free to post comments about record stores of the present and past.

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  • It should be noted that the day is devoted to INDEPENDENT record stores, which is why none of the chains is participating.

    Of course, I doubt that your local chain store is going to have an extensive collection of local artist CDs, cassettes or vinyl like Rhino does. Rhino also has an extensive ‘zine collection (years and years ago, I sold a ‘zine through Rhino — one that was printed on a dot matrix printer back in the day).

    As you can see from Rhino’s site, they are also associated with Mad Platter on the west edge of Riverside, which is also participating.

    [I’m a huge fan of Rhino. Interestingly, other than the Virgin Megastore at Ontario Mills, there ARE no chain record stores out here anymore. But Target, Best Buy, Circuit City and especially Wal-Mart sell CDs and cut into indies’ dwindling market. — DA]

  • meg

    I am extremely impressed that Rancho has an all-punk record store. That is way cool.

    [Dr. Strange will celebrate its 10th anniversary as a store later this year and has existed even longer as a mail-order place and record label. — DA]

  • terry green

    on an unrelated matter as far as stores are concerned –do you know anything about the walmart property on mountain in ontario? is a store going to be built? i noticed that hollywood video is closing. thanks.

    [I think the whole Hollywood Video chain is closing. As for Wal-Mart, the store is on hold because of litigation from neighbors. — DA]

  • JMac

    Well I can certainly try and “wax” nostalgic on this subject.

    As a kid when “Beatlemania” hit, the place to go was Wallichs Music City, in the Eastland center. Either pick up the latest 45’s or an lp, then bug Mom to stop off at Clifton’s Cafeteria, before we travel back over Kellogg Hill to get home.

    But unless I hitched a ride with my older sis, most of my early record buying was at Hamiltons Drug Store, across from PVH. That’s where I remember buying the Beatles White album. Enter the 70’s and the arrival of The Wherehouse, Licorice Pizza, Tower Records, and Music Plus. But my obvious favorite in the area was Discount Record Center, next to Duggan’s, in the south lot of the Montclair Plaza.

    I spent so much time in that store that they finally hired me. It was here that my musical knowledge was expanded in all genres. When I began working, we were still selling 45’s and 8-tracks. But both would eventually be phased out before we sold to the Wherehouse in 1977.

    I got to work with some really cool people and met some great customers. Several musicians living in the area would stop by, such as David Lindley and Walter Egan.

    We probably had the deepest classical catalogue in the area during that time. Classical music fans are a fussy bunch too. We had a pretty loose return policy, so they would return any lp that had excessive “surface noise” as they would call it.

    I remember when we first heard about Rhino in the mid 70’s. It was the only place to find bootlegs and imports. They got a lot of my money, as even we didn’t stock imports, let alone bootlegs.

    It’s a great idea today and I hope that Rhino does bang up business. They do it right there, and that store is truly reminiscent of the Discount Record Store that I remember, and a throwback to all the great record stores from the past. Plus they have vinyl!!!!

    [Rhino opened in Claremont in October 1974 and outlived the Westwood Rhino that came first and closed a couple of years back. — DA]

  • RK

    Not having grown up out here, I can’t say what indie record stores in the 909 are great (although to my way of thinking, any indie record store is better than a chain anyday…)

    But where I grew up, I know I spent many a day at the late, great Aron’s Records on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. It was so nice to buy a few used (vinyl) records, take them home, and if I didn’t like them, bring them back to “trade in” and try something else.

    Also, all the junky records I would get for Christmas or birthday often ended up as trade fodder at Aron’s. Aron’s seemed to have just about every kind of music imaginable, and they didn’t care if you spent hours browsing through the bins (and not spending a lot of money). Really, without this little bartering system, I never would have been exposed to so much of the great music that I still love.

    Don’t try this at Walmart…

    [Trade-ins at used record stores are, like trade-ins at used bookstores, awesome. I miss Aron’s too, although Amoeba is a more than acceptable substitute. — DA]

  • Rhino Records is great, but I was saddened when they took down the little collection of Mego KISS Dolls they had way above the registers. They had been untouched and up there for so long that they became greyish in color due to the excess dust…hmmm once you think about it they were kind of identical to the real KISS.

  • 1-man Band

    I spent a substantial part of my youth in record stores. I was 8 and when I first entered Wallichs Music City in Hollywood during a cub scout jamboree. I was bowled over by their tens of thousands of 45s and their listening booths. Beatles, Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. I quit the cub scouts shortly thereafter.

    Moving to Glendale in my early teens I spent hours a day between the very hippie Sound Experience (near Brand Blvd.) and the very jazzy Ray Avery’s Rare Records, both on Broadway. I bought my first Muddy Waters and Little Walter 78’s at Rare Records.

    I barely survived stifling South Pasadena High School of the early 70s, but managed to stay sane in the cool, bop refuge of Poo-Bah’s Records on Fair Oaks. Jerry (“Mr. Poo-Bah”) was a local hero and an older brother to me amidst the dim smokey bars, the gritty back alleys and the oily brown pawn shops of original Old Town Pasadena.

    I landed in Claremont in 1974 when Rhino first opened. Still a proud and loyal customer. Thanks be to the Masters and Mistresses of the Universe for these great indies. To which we all say ….

    […yes? Oh, and for the (ahem) record, Poo-Bah’s is still around, I think, somewhere on East Colorado. — DA]

  • Lisa

    I definitely have Claremont’s Rhino Records to thank for their used-tape section back in the 1990s. Surely when some poor schmoe was trying to make his rent, he sold off Combat Rock by the Clash. Today it is still one of my favorite albums, and it turned me on to the rest of the Clash’s music and the now, late-great Joe Strummer. Maybe someday people will have that type of nostalgia for iTunes, but I doubt it.

    [I’m a big Clash fan as well. FYI, one of the specials Saturday at Rhino is that if you buy the new Clash DVD, you get a free limited edition Clash CD with some rare stuff. — DA]

  • 1-man Band

    Thanks be to the Masters and Mistresses of the Universe for these great indies. To which we all say …

    […yes? Oh, and for the (ahem) record, Poo-Bah’s is still around, I think, somewhere on East Colorado. — DA]

    To which we all say … Amen! (not “ahem”) 🙂

  • Hal Linker”

    I still love Rhino although it lost a lot of its appeal for me when it moved into the old grocery store. I dug the bi-level location next to the Birkenstock store where I found some amazing stuff in the used bins for poquito dinero.

    I suppose that’s just quibbling since there are virtually no indie stores surviving these days except Latino CD stores. This is the result of both large discount chains cutting into the mom-and-pop market in the 1990’s and, more recently, Internet sales, trading and downloading. Its been a depressed industry for quite some time. Most of the local one-stop distributors have also folded (City One-Stop, Norwalk Distributors, Pacific Distributors and Abbey Road come to mind).

    Rhino was a good source for import, bootleg and indie product. They still have great catalog on progressive rock (thanks to Hungry Chuck Oken [who digs Juanitas]), jazz (although somewhat limited Amoebas selection is far better), punk, folk, rockabilly and garage. They also highlight local artists like Chris Darrow, David Lindley, Djam Karat (Chuck Okens band), etc.

    The store also had some rather long lasting, durable and helpful employees over the years including Don, Rob (now a professor at Cal Poly, last I heard), Lucy and Nathan (who hosted the I Hate Music show on KSPC in his younger days) and far too many to even recall.

    The back room in the old location was reserved for contraband connoisseurs the privileged few. However, when CDs became the medium of bootleggers, Rhinos prices were not even close to competitive. The Mad Platter off of Hole in Riverside was always considered by me to be an inferior satellite store which my friends and I nicknamed The Sad Platter (no offense, it just wasnt as good as Rhino).

    Better sources of indies and especially boots and rarities were the monthly record swaps at Capitol Records parking lot in Hollywood (a legendary phenomena of the 1970s and very early 1980s), then came the Pasadena City College record swaps associated with the flea markets (in the good old “Record Alley” days), the airport Holiday Inn, the Sequoia Club on Orangethorpe and Beach in Buena Park (before they turned it into a Target) and even the somewhat irregular events at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn on Vineland in North Hollywood (No Ho), and Glendale Civic Auditorium.*

    I used to ditch high school to go to Arons Records with a chick named Sandra. She played the glockenspiel in the high school band and turned me on to Hawkwinds first album and Amon Duul II. We were both serious music buffs and vinyl junkies, along with easily being the most freaky people in the nice neighborhood.

    Wed ditch school practically every Wednesday to get to Arons before Manny (Aron) would open the doors (when they were still great at the Melrose near Fairfax High School location). Wednesday was usually the day that the promo guys from the record companies would dump all the excess promo copies of new albums. In those days Mannys used bins had prices ranging from 10 cents, 33 cents, 66 cents, 99 cents, 1.98, with only dead-rare items priced higher. Arons had underground records for a short while, but Manny dropped them when some serious heat came on him in the early days of bootlegging and he was named in a suit involving the guys from the seminal Trademark of Quality label.

    After Arons wed usually drive up Fairfax and grab lunch at Canters and check out the Free Press Book Store & Kazoo and Nortys Records which were in the same block. Then wed put our new purchases in the trunk under a blanket and use Canters bathroom to change into our cut-offs / bikinis and head for the Santa Monica Pier if we had money left. Or, if not, itd be Will Rogers State Beach where wed frolic, make out and usually get sunburned. Sandra was on The Pill (her parents approved, for complexion reasons, but her face looked mighty clear to me) and she rocked!

    Years later, one of Arons employees opened Renes All Ears records just a few doors down. Rene was encyclopedic when it came to certain fields of music. His store was also great while it lasted.

    In my opinion, Arons was never the same after they moved to the Highland location. Records were becoming scarce and the import CD prices were inflated. Times were changing.

    It was at this time (late 1980s early 1990s) that my serious music collecting friends and myself began to deal directly with one-stops and import distributors. Places like Bruce Ogilvies Abbey Road in Santa Ana on Ritchey Avenue off of the Edinger off-ramp of the 55.** Or Norwalk Distributors on Knollwood Circle just off of Magnolia and the 5 Freeway via Woodland in Anaheim (once they had a company party on the grounds which featured the young and gnarly Red Hot Chili Peppers). Or Phantom import distributors on 17th Street in Costa Mesa (later just off the corner of Brioso Drive and Whittier Avenue in Costa Mesa).***

    Out of state distributors like Gotham in New York for oldies, and Encore! in Colorado for indies, also supplied us with rather hard to find items. There was also an import CD distributor in Hicksville, New York called Voice. My sales rep was a guy named Iggy (they rocked if you wanted UK or US indie stuff at wholesale prices).

    Then there was Charlie in New York who was the only large-scale bootleg CD distributor in the nation that allowed his customers returns on unsold items. Wow! These were in the booming 1990s CD trade before the big bust of 1997.

    I already mentioned the primeval Rudy Pocks in Ontario and Discount Record Center in earlier posts. JMac seems to have finally made the definitive statement regarding the latter although I think 8-tracks met their demise sometime in the very early 1980s.

    I never really considered Wallichs an indie because they had a connection with Capitol Records. But they were a cool store with listening booths. I used to snag their 11 x 14 school-bus yellow weekly Wallichs charts in the late 1960s.

    Eastland Center, ah the memories.**** As stated previously, Big Bens opened up a location at the West Covina site. The landmark Wallichs at Sunset and Vine closed sometime in the late 1970s I think, perhaps 1978. Im not sure when the one in West Covina went down, probably around the same time.

    As the 1970s progressed we got the excellent Rhino on Westwood, the glory days of which were in the 1970s and early 1980s. In the mid-1980s there was a guy named Otis who worked there. He had a panel in the wall of the store which opened up. Behind it were very pricey collectible records. If I remember right, Otis was totally into the Flesheaters, Captain Beefheart and Big Daddy Roth stuff!

    Then there was Bob Says Moby Disc out in Van Nuys and also a store in Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard. The indie opened several other inferior locations around southern California (including Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach). Great stores!! Especially Van Nuys and Pasadena!!! Bob sold the stores to Djangos in the 1990s and now operates the very cool Freakbeat Records in Sherman Oaks. Bob rules! Hes very helpful and will keep an eye out for that rare, unobtainable, out of print item if you fill out a want card with him. He actually follows up quite quickly.

    Record Surplus in West L.A. on Pico, near Barrington, which is connected to the Rhino store in Claremont, is also a fantastic place for vinyl junkies. Plenty of records in all genres. Lots of classic old jazz, country, folk, rock , you name it! The House of Records west on Pico was always kind of a rip off They probably went broke. I liked their big statue of Nipper the RCA dog though. Unfortunately, it wasnt for sale.

    Who can forget Neals Records in Glendale!!!! He began on Brand and then moved to another location, I think, on Glendale Boulevard next to a balloon store. The place was chaos of the mid-1980s variety. He was overrun by his druggie employees who were a combination of Bauhaus / Joy Divison gothics and metal crazies. The place had no register, just a small cash box, and everyone was into the till. Kids were designing covers for bootleg albums, high school girls were exchanging sexual favors for albums and/or dope. Video porn sessions were being arranged. Hardcore record collectors were being hawked the latest bootleg wares. Drugs were being consumed and sold. Pizza from Pizza Petes was being devoured. All of this would be happening simultaneously with groups of people in the store. Business as usual. It was an unbelievable experience. But I liked it, oh yeah but I liked it!

    A side room had Neals bed complete with stained sheets, a hot-plate on the night stand and a fried chicken leg stashed under his pillow. Im not kidding! I actually was talking to Neal one time in this room and he lifted the pillow, grabbed the drumstick and began chomping on it! His bedroom closet billowed with bootleg vinyl product of the era. Neal was kind of spaced out to say the least. Some say it was an act to throw authorities off and that he was some sort of bootleg genius mastermind. Once, when in his bedroom portion of the store, I saw many stampers and mothers for pressing vinyl boots. Still, I think Neal was just a cog in the wheel and a fall guy for smarter and safer dudes. Neal Shustack – One of the true characters of the illicit record trade.

    Neal had an extremely knowledgeable employee named Dean. The curly haired brunet knew everything there was to know about bootlegs an amazing guy. There was also a guy named Darren who fancied himself the REAL proprietor of the store. Darren was a Bauhaus / Joy Division/ Pink Floyd / Patti Smith / Robert Smith kind of guy with the heavy dark make-up under his eyes. He later opened a pair of different store locations in Huntington Beach and eventually switched from heavy drugs and goth to Jack Daniels and Waylon Jennings (I havent seen the guy in years).

    Im not sure if Groove Time Records in Berdoo is till around. My nickname for the store was Record Rip-Off because the proprietor, Franklin, would, many times, re-seal used and sometimes beat up records and pass them off as new. Still, this doesnt mean I never found any treasures there.

    Orange County had a store called Music Market which was fairly large and carried new and used product. I think they had at least two large locations. They werent very good. Many of their used records were trashed. Didnt OC residents know how to take care of their vinyl? Plus they put these giant circular Music Market price stickers on the used stuff and they were pretty tough to remove, even with lighter fluid. They must have had super glue on em or something!

    Fingerprints in Long Beach and Belmont Shore are kinda cool but they didnt open till the 1990s.

    Record Rover and American Pie in the Venice / Mar Vista area near Centinela and Venice Boulevard rocked in their heydays of the 1980s. The Rover is still there. Not so sure about American Pie.

    There was a guy operating out of an apartment in that general area as first PVC Collectibles and later as PVC collectibles. His name was Greg Biggs and we also a big Civil War collector. His assistants name was Diane and she was way into The Pretenders at the time. I remember enjoying the unintentionally funny Hot Rods To Hell with her while waiting for Greg to show up on one occasion. He also had a guy named Mike working for him who was really nice. Havent seen Mike since Rory Gallagher played the Roxy back in March of 1991. (Too bad about Rory dying about 13 years ago. Guitarists know that he was one of the greatest!!!!) Last I heard, Greg moved to Ohio but that was over a decade ago.

    Of course Rockaway Records in its various locations along Glendale Boulevard in the Silverlake area was great in the 1980s and 1990s but is slowly losing its luster. Wayne and Gary Johnson started with a mail order business out of Brea and grew up as Americans in Australia.

    New to the area and moving into town in a big way is Amoeba. The legendary Bay Area indie was founded on drug money. If you dont find shopping in acres of used and new CDs, amid throngs of elbow-to-elbow people clacking away as they rifle through the bins, overwhelming, the place aint too bad. The prices arent that great on the used stuff though. Since they moved in, many smaller mom and pops have folded. Its pretty much the only real game in town these days. And where else can you bump elbows with Elvis Costello while perusing the oldies section. Geez, I even got to meet one of my boyhood heartthrobs when Lynn Carey did an in-store. *****

    Tower may not have been considered indie, but it was a very sad day when the various local stores closed. Especially Sunset Strip!! That was such an incredible store in its heyday. Prices were never the greatest but the selection was! And where else could you discuss Billy Joe Shaver, the Nightcrawlers and Del Shannon with Tom Petty while perusing the Wanda Jackson section. That is one landmark of Hollywood I will sorely miss with its giant renderings of album covers along its exterior walls and regular in-store appearances by some of the biggest music stars in the biz. Why didnt someone save it? I know, I know, evil forces outbid the good ones and bought out the stores to dump them, rather than save them.

    Licorice Pizza used to have a store on the opposite side of Sunset very close to Tower. The Patti Smith Group performed in the back parking lot in the late 1970s. The West Covina location was rather popular with me. A guy named Robert Jacobs worked there for awhile. He was a Dr. Demento freak.

    I already mentioned the very short-lived (Fall 1977) Primo Records in Chino which was opened by former Pomona Wherehouse (Indian Hill near Holt) manager, Jan, and the chick who used to manage the Licorice Pizza in West Covina. The store was closed when the police found out that most of the merchandise had been stolen from their previous companies.

    Jan also had Atlantis Records out on Foothill Boulevard circa 1979. He was also in a shared shop with a bookseller (who later turned plumber for Valley (Econo) Rooter) in Old Town Upland area near Ninth Street. (Does anyone know if they still have the street fairs in Old Town Upland in the summer on Thursday nights?)

    There was also Vogue Records on Hollywood Boulevard (across from the Vogue Theatre), one of the first places to get the Bob Dylan – Great White Wonder bootleg in 1969. They also had a location in Westwood.

    Ah, yes, Poo-Bah Records! A great store which, like so many others in my opinion, started to fade during the late 1980s when the CD era began. That cozy little house on the corner of Walnut and Wilson in Pasadena got many of my vinyl dollars. The staff was knowledgeable. The new Colorado location pales to the old one. But the old place had lost much of its luster before the move. I once got into a fender bender with a very interesting lady as I was leaving Poo-Bahs. A great story for, perhaps, another time.

    Shattered Records on Sunset across from Tower Records was a cool store (and also record label) which operated as a front for bootlegging. Still, it had some cool used vinyl and CDs inside. They had an office across the street on top of a tall building next to Tower Records. You had to walk across the roof to get to it. I hung out and partied with Mick Taylor (ex-Stone) in that office. Mick recorded an album for the Shattered label in the 1990s when he was down and out.

    And dont forget Salzers out in Ventura. I hope ex-Abbey Road / Norwalk Distributors employee Ann Blevins still works there. Work with me Annie!!! Lets get it while the gettins good!!!

    Another short-lived mother of a store was Plastic Passion in Ventura on Main Street adjacent and connected to the Ventura Theater which had a Chestnut Street address. A guy named Ken ran both places for a time.

    If youre out Vegas way, theres a few locations of Record City at which you could get lucky in the used bins. They had a store in Victorville too, but it shut down.

    Oh, and lets not forget Randys Groovy Memories in the old Pomona Mall antique row. Randys a real good sort for a collector nerd type. And if you wanna talk obscure garage rock in the vein of the old Pebbles and Nuggets series, Randys your man.

    Congrats to Dr. Strange. Their namesake is a Marvel Comics character, right. Im not into that scene but I think I heard that before in regards to a rock concert poster promoting the first rock n roll dance put on by The Family Dog.

    Hot Rocks in Covina was cool while it lasted. It had a couple of different locations there and actually moved to Upland for a very short spell. A guy named Tom was the owner. Dont know whatever happened to him or the store after that. My stupid son bought a bumper sticker at the Upland store which read Vaginas Are Way Cool. Then he put it on my cars bumper when I wasnt looking. I didnt notice the sticker until weeks after he applied it. It did seem that I was getting more honks and friendly, smiling looks than normal.

    Phew! I’m sick of this sucker! Thus submitted All errors intact! Hal Linker

    * KSPC now sponsors record swaps at least twice a year at the Claremont Colleges. Check em out. And bring lots of money! The Buena Park swaps were being held at the Retail Clerks Union Hall (on Stanton Avenue near Beach and Crescent) last I heard.

    ** Later they moved to Sante Fe Springs and got absorbed by a national company called Alliance. They lost their character, put in a dress code, wouldnt allow customers to pick their own orders, and, eventually wrecked and bankrupted what was once a proud independently owned distributorship.

    *** Still later, they moved to the corner of Burke Lane and Prince Drive in Huntington Beach before being absorbed into Irvines mega distributor, Super D.

    ****Too bad about the local Cliftons which moved to the new Fashion Plaza (Westfield later), west, and on the opposite side of the 10 Freeway and fairly recently closed down. I think the Los Angeles Cliftons is still open. Hadla and I really miss the West Covina Cliftons. Good cafeterias are hard to find these days. Cliftons also cooked turkey dinners on the holidays for take-out if you didnt have the time or energy to do it yourself.

    ***** Lynn was the super foxy lead singer of the local blues-based C.K. Strong who recorded one album for Epic in 1968. She was also in Mama Lion on whose first album cover she is shown suckling a baby lion cub. And man is this one happy lion cub! The cover alone is worth the price of the album. She also appeared in the obscure mid-60s flop Lord Love a Duck. MacDonald Careys liberated daughter was a bombshell already at 13 in the Va-Va-Va-Voom Sixties mold!!!

    [This missive clocks in at something like 5,000 words. Anyway, yes, Upland still has its Thursday night market on Second Avenue, Dr. Strange is indeed a Marvel Comics character, the Pasadena City College swap meet (first Sunday of the month) is still a great place for CDs and Clifton’s does still have a cafeteria at Broadway and Seventh in downtown L.A. Accessible via Metrolink and the Red Line subway, it’s a must-visit for all. — DA]

  • Anonymous

    Hal Linker said “There was a guy operating out of an apartment in that general area as first PVC Collectibles and later as PVC collectibles. His name was Greg Biggs and we also a big Civil War collector.”

    Just for correctness’ sake, CVC Collectibles was the second name of Greg’s biz. And he was also a big Civil War collector. Additionally he enjoyed playing with the original Marx Toys Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Watch out, he’ll knock your block off!

    Also the rather portly Bob Say (ex-Moby Disc, current Freakbeat) has been known to wear the humorous T-shirt which reads “It’s great to be fat and have lots of records.”

    [“Hal’s” PVC/PVC comment obviously had something wrong with it. Thanks for clearing that up. — DA]

  • “Hal Linker”

    More cool indie stores which I forgot.

    Lou’s Records is a must stop when in Encinitas. While there eat at the Potato Shack and then cruise down the coast to Solana Beach and take in a show at The Belly Up! Before that, have another meal at The Chart House in Cardiff. It’s right on the ocean; the spectacular view is worth the price of the excellent meal.

    A-1 Record Finders – Melrose and Larchmont – kinda pricey. Kinda weird. Keep your money in your boots.

    Off the Record in San Diego.

    Blue Meanie in El Cajon.

    Nostalgia Records – San Diego.

    The late-Goat Hill Records in Huntington Beach. Toxic Shock – Huntington Beach.

    Streetlight Records – San Jose.

    Big Al’s Record Barn – San Jose

    Rasputin’s in Berkeley and San Francisco.

    Village Music – Mill Valley – I LOVE THIS STORE!!!!

    [Let me echo your enthusiasm for Lou’s, Rasputin’s and Village Music. Haven’t been to the others. I would add Canterbury Music in Pasadena, a store with a real old-time feel.

    I went to A-1 Record Finders once. Several minutes into my browsing, the aging clerk asked me a polite question: “What are you doing community service for?” I asked what he meant. “Well,” he said matter-of-factly, “obviously the police sent you here to spy on me. I just wondered what you were doing community service for.” Hey, I was shopping for an out-of-print Joplin LP.

    He went on a rant about police and how no one understands what the ’60s were about. Pretty soon a nice young mom came in looking for children’s records. The guy kept ranting and scared her out of the store … moments after I slipped out. Sheesh. It was so disturbing I vowed to call the owner to complain but by the time I got home I decided to let it go. — DA]

  • “Hal Linker”


    Way back when in the Seventies, A-1 Record Finders was a “by appointment only” mail order type service. The first time I ever went there, I had such an appointment. I went to the front door on Melrose and it was locked so I knocked. No one answered.

    Then I called from a pay phone booth on the other side of Melrose. A man answered and told me I had to enter at the back door in the alley.

    I walked through the back alley and knocked on the door. It took about five minutes before a very frizzy haired barefoot Asian / Indian chick in her late 20s and wearing only a slip and holding a baseball bat answered the door. She opened the door very apprehensively as if she didn’t know what kind of harm to expect. She let me inside nervously. There were no lights on in the place, just a small lamp burning in an adjoining room.

    In that adjoining room was a middle-aged guy with a cigar and thick black-rimmed glasses and extremely yellow teeth. His deep radio announcer voice belied his wimpy looks. He cracked some horribly perverted jokes which made me even more uncomfortable than I already was. Then he creepily delighted as he told me that he had picture discs of naked Japanese kids if I was interested.

    I wasn’t. My appointment was for a quick survey of the Rock and Jazz sections. I had no titles in mind. Just wanted to see what they had. The cigar smoking, yellow toothed, pedder instructed his female associate to show me around through the facility.

    At this time, A-1 Record Finders had no bins to peruse. It was strictly shelves of records stacked like books. There was some semblance of alphabetical order but not entirely. The Asian / Indian chick was giving off weird vibes too. I felt as if I was gonna be rolled and eaten for dinner, or maybe forced into some deviant and evil sex ritual with the two of them.

    Since there didn’t appear to be any lights working in the place, the woman followed me around with a Coleman camping lantern, still carrying the bat, as I looked. Every time I looked at her standing behind me, I got the feeling I was about to get clubbed over the head.

    I started in the Rock section at the letter “A” and the place was so weird that by the time I got to letter “D”, I wanted to leave. It was really hard to see with the poor light and shadows and I really was getting paranoid.

    Plus I found a vein of about 25 sealed Deep Purple – Royal Philharmonic – Concerto For Group and Orchestra on the Tetragrammaton label. This was about a $100 record at the time. The label had gone bust just as the album was released. Subsequently, Warner Brothers picked up Deep Purple and released the same album. The Tetragrammaton issue was extremely rare, however! It barely hit the street.

    I grabbed the bunch of them and the woman and I returned to El Perverto. I asked him what he wanted for the records. Obviously he didn’t understand or know rock stuff that well, he was a soundtrack man (and Japanese ped pix disc lover), and he let them go for seven bucks each.

    I figured they might have had other stuff, but just wanted to get the hell out of there before I turned into Jeffrey Dahmer stew or a snuff flick star.

    I paid cash for the records and they kept asking me to stay. They were enthralled with the fact that I was a cowboy from Chino. A little too enthralled. The Asian / Indian chick kept stroking my chest but it was in a creepy way with a demented look about her. Needless to say, they didn’t even hold the entertainment promise of the Frankenfurter home. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

    [Your last line sums up my own weird experience, detailed earlier. I did have a pleasant time on my first visit when a normal clerk was on duty. (I forgot about that visit until just now.) And the LPs, last time I went, were still as you described: on shelves, not in bins. — DA]

  • Patrick Hickey

    Better late than never, I put forth…

    Quoting “Hal Linker”

    ———— snip ————–

    “Years later, one of Arons employees opened Renes All Ears records just a few doors down. Rene was encyclopedic when it came to certain fields of music. His store was also great while it lasted.”

    ———— snip ————-

    That would be Rene Cortez. His knowledge of the fusion/mellotron/imported rock was without equal. I went to high school with Rene and remember this period of time very well. Your written history is absolutely splendid — takes me back.


  • Jeffrey Alan Rochlin

    Was a roadie for dummer Ronnie Ciago, Bobby Osinsky and the Hollywood Blues Kings Coasting Home with Mick Taylor recorded live at 14 Below 1995 for Bob Pederson and Shatterd Music. Did some shows around town with the band and Mick Taylor. Have a couple of great Mick Tayolor stories contact me.

    We also recorded a live in studio cd for Bob and Shattered Music called UNSUNG with Angie Bowie and the late great Kevin Gilbert, with Paul Ill on base and a cast of LA underground poets procuced by Bobby Osinsky for Eurojam released on shattered records circa 1990’s.

    I am a poet lyricist and have a track on UNSUNG track 10 BLOOD IN THE CITY which got me into ascap. Contact me and I will write or tell you about the two great inside Mick Tayor stories, one at the 14 Below recording and a great story about a live show at a place called the Brewery on Arrow Hgy. during that tour with Mick and the band.

    The brewery is long gone but that night Mick gave one of the greatest guitar performances that I have ever seen. His 14 Below show was a little sloppy but enough good stuff for the cd. Joe Houston featured on sax at the 14 Below gig and some chick named Angel who played a rocking Jeff Healy style flat guitar but her manager would not allow Bob to record her live for the cd. Is Bob still around?

    I have a copy of the UNSUNG cd somewhere in my house but I can’t find it, oh well. What a great time with some great memories. Let’s compare notes sometime. Sincerely Jeffrey Alan Rochlin