We are very excited to finally get started on a new project! We’ve been kicking around the idea for this one for about a year now, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get down to work. If you haven’t caught any of our social media postings about this new venture, here it is: we plan to write an oral history of the retail record store in America. By gathering personal stories from veterans of the retail side of the music industry, we hope to tell a tale of the origin of the record store as well as its evolution throughout the 20th century into the new millennium. We are at the very outset of collecting interviews and still doing a TON of research, so you never know where the story might lead. We are very excited to see where it goes, though. We plan to cover retail giants like Tower Records (we have an interview scheduled with the legendary Russ Solomon!) as well as the rise, wane, and rebirth of the independent music store. There will be a lot of historical information paired with personal anecdotes of what it was like to work in these stores in various eras, regions and cultures.From Elvis to the big rock of the ’70s, to disco, punk, hip hop, R&B, and about a thousand other sub-genres, we hope to cover as much as we can!
Our first foray found us in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, where we were special guests at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum and given a behind-the-scenes tour by the head honcho himself, Mr. Greg Harris. In the 1980s Greg opened one of my personal favorite record stores in Philadelphia; The Record Exchange. Greg had a lot of insight into the world of indie record shops and gave us a fantastic interview. Greg was also very familiar with City Gardens, having (mis)spent many a night there, so we presented him with a “No Slam Dancing” sign from the club as a thank you for all of his hospitality. We also got to see some really fucking cool shit.
Most recently we took a trip to the Rutgers University campus in Camden, NJ, to visit an RCA Victor exhibit for some research. It was a free showing, open to the public, and it housed some very cool artifacts and antiquities like old Victrolas, early reel-to-reel tape machines, and some of the earliest television sets manufactured. It was a really cool set-up: Camden played a HUGE part in the early growth of the recording and manufacturing industry, and there is a lot of history there. Specifically with the RCA Victor company, which thrived in downtown Camden once upon a time.
Again, we are very excited to delve into this story and see where it takes us. So far it has been very interesting. Along the way we are looking to interview as many people as possible, so if you worked in or owned a record store of any kind, and have some stories to tell, please get in touch with us! Contact is: firstname.lastname@example.org and we look forward to hearing from you! Also check out our new Facebook page for our publishing company, DiWulf Publishing.
Here are some pictures from our Camden trip.