I started writing to record companies when I was about 11 or 12 years old. Sitting here at 52 years old, I don’t remember my exact approach – perhaps I wrote inquiring about a specific record? or a whole ‘line’ of records? The letter posted today is from Phonogram in Chicago.
I am pretty sure I wrote to them asking which LP’s they were going to be releasing on their new Vertigo label. I don’t think they sent me a catalogue or anything, just a form letter telling me “Thanks for your interest”. The letter shown here is from 1971, approximately.
I also wrote to the Decca Record Company ltd. in London – no doubt asking about The Rolling Stones. They sent me a lovely catalogue of Rolling Stones titles, right around the time of the “Stone Age” compilation.
I wrote to Island Records in London at least twice, as I have two sets of early 70’s UK Island catalogues in my possession.
When I wrote to Virgin Records in England, they sent me a giant poster for Gong “Angel’s Egg”! They would put my inquiry around 1973 / 4. I think before they were a big record label, they were a chain of record shops in England that had a mail-order service.
Speaking of mail-order, I remember ordering records from King Carol Records in New York City. Somehow, I found out about them, and I wrote, requesting a catalogue, which duly arrived. My ‘find’ from there was the first time I ever encountered The Dusk ‘Till Dawn Orchestra “Sea Drift” LP on Elektra Records – Mort Garson!
And, of course, I once ran a mail-order company, ANZ Imports. Our specialty was vinyl from Australia and New Zealand. Another ‘arm’ of the company sold Japanese-pressed Blue Note jazz LP’s (that were all out of print in the US in the 80’s).
So, mail-order has always had a presence in my record collecting universe. I usually never hesitated to write to artists whose music I enjoyed. I wrote to (and joined) countless ‘fan clubs’ over the years. Recently, my It Bites fan club folder fell out of an LP copy of their 2nd album, when I opened it up – so, was 1989 the last time I joined an “Appreciation Society” for a band? Maybe…
I am presently experimenting with an idea for a small mail-order record distributor that I would own and run. I would only stock records / CD’s that I actually liked and / or could wholly recommend. I would contact my artist friends directly, and request to distribute their stuff; I might also generate a small re-issue label – for stuff like Lavvi Ebbel and I Am Joe’s Music – artists that nobody else is likely to ever want to re-issue. It’s just a thought at the moment, but… Just what the world needs: another record company.