In My Life

I am continually amazed and quite frankly, very pleased to see the resurgence in music that is being bought on vinyl. Coming off the 2014 year which has been aptly described a poor year for the music business, vinyl and streaming music has showed incredible growth in sales, while digital and CD sales continue to plummet. People are buying music on vinyl again.

According to a Rolling Stone article about the state of the music business that appeared on January 8, 2015, “Streaming was up in a big way in 2014 with 78.6 billion audio streams to go with 85.3 billion video views. That marked a 54.5 percent increase over the total streams in 2013. ….Total Digital Music Consumption” also rose 3.7 percent in 2014.”

The article goes on to say “Vinyl continues to be a noteworthy music industry trend, and in 2014, the 12-inch had its best year in decades, selling 9.2 million units. That’s a 51.8 percent increase over 2013, and vinyl sales now account for six percent of all physical music sales.”

For people like me, who grew up buying vinyl (and continue to do so) even though 8-tracks, reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, CD’s and MP3’s were supposed to supplant “good ole vinyl” is an endorsement of that media. Those of us, who buy, carefully store and play 45’s and LP’s know that vinyl produces the best sound quality of them all.

When I was In Junior High School beginning to buy vinyl, I bought records at a store on Continental Avenue in Forest Hills, Queens New York. I can’t remember the name of the store, but the proprietor always had imaginative displays of the latest Top 10 records in the window of the store. They had listening booths where you could play the record to hear it before you bought it.

Around the corner on Austin Street, there was a Woolworth store with a record department. There was a guy there who was knowledgeable about all the latest hits. Even though Woolworth’s could not ever be considered an independent record store, the person at the record department made it feel as though it were a small independent place to buy records. I bought my first LP there.

Independent record stores are the “heart and soul” of the music business. In the 50’s & 60’s, many record stores had listening booths where you could go and hear the record before you bought it. The store owner was always well versed in the latest music and would gladly engage in conversation about the artists, as well.

The store however that I will always remember was “Larry’s Record Store” located in Bayside Queens, New York. Larry’s was located just off Springfield Blvd. on the service road of the Long Island Expressway. Larry was one of those guys who always spent time with you talking about music and when the conversation was over, even if you didn’t buy anything, you still felt that you and Larry were pals. He advised me many times on music that he felt that I needed to have in my collection. Larry was the one who insisted that a buy the first Pink Floyd album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn even though at the time, I had never heard of them. It’s a remarkable album.

I vividly remember the day that Larry showed me the new Who album and predicted that they would be enormous stars. He didn’t even have a copy in stereo to sell, so I bought the mono version. He was right again!

Over the years, I have visited record stores in virtually every state of this country. I have been to record stores in England, Canada, France, Italy, Hong Kong and the list goes on and on, and the one recurring aspect of buying music in a record store is the knowledge of the person behind the counter. Inevitably, it’s a person who knows music, understands the latest trends and most of all, is willing to talk to you about it.

When Tower Records was established, I felt that they tried to give the customer a “small store” approach even though they were clearly a big store. Sadly, that venture failed.

So now, Record Store Day, which was the brainchild of guys who love vinyl, has been around for a number of years. Each year, it grows in popularity and has become a major selling opportunity for record companies as they offer special vinyl to commemorate the day. This year, Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters is the honorary ambassador for Record Store day. Dave and the group even appeared at a record store in Niles, Ohio to play a few tunes on Record Store day. When people like Dave Grohl take notice, it is clear Record store is of benefit for musicians, record companies and consumers

Continuing in the long line of kick-ass shouters-out of the glories of the record store, we are proud to announce that one Mr. David Grohl will wear the sash of Record Store Day Ambassador 2015.


I found my calling in the back bin of a dark, dusty record store.

1975’s K-Tel’s Blockbuster 20 Original Hits by the Original Stars featuring Alice Cooper, War, Kool and the Gang, Average White Band and many more, bought at a small record shop in my suburban Virginia neighborhood, it was this record that changed my life and made me want to become a musician. The second that I heard Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” kick in, I was hooked. My life had been changed forever. This was the first day of the rest of my life.

Growing up in Springfield, Virginia in the 70’s and 80’s, my local independent record stores were magical, mysterious places that I spent all of my spare time (and money) in, finding what was to eventually become the soundtrack of my life. Every weekend I couldn’t wait to take my hard earned, lawn mowing cash down for an afternoon full of discovery. And, the chase was always as good as the catch! I spent hours flipping through every stack, examining the artwork on every cover, the titles and credits, searching for music that would inspire me, or understand me, or just to help me escape. These places became my churches, my libraries, my schools. They felt like home. And, I don’t know where I would be today without them.

More recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to rediscover this sense of excitement, that magical feeling of finding something all one’s own, by watching my kids go through it. Let me tell you: Nothing makes me prouder than watching my daughters spin that first Roky Erickson LP one of them picked out for their very own on one of our weekend trips to the record store. Or to watch the reverence they have as they handle their Beatles vinyl. How carefully they replace the albums into their sleeves, making sure they’re placed back onto the self in the proper sequence. Watching them realize how crucial and intertwined every part of this experience is, I relive the magic of my earliest experiences with vinyl singles and albums, their artwork, liners notes etc. all over again and again.

I believe that the power of the record store to inspire is still alive and well, and that their importance to our next generation of musicians is crucial. Take an afternoon (and some hard earned lawn mowing money) and please support them.

You never know, it might change your life forever, too.


Thank you Dave, Larry and the innumerable record store people that I have had the pleasure to visit with and talk about music over the last 50+ years of my life.