On the Road – Pt. 6

10-3-12          On the Road – Pt. 6

Guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn born 1954; 10-3-81 John Foxx “The Garden” LP charts at No. 24 in England.

I also liked to write to addresses found on record covers, requesting catalogues from record companies etc.  Or writing to addresses in Melody Maker, the N.M.E. etc.  “Can you help me find _____ ?” etc.  Sometimes, artists wrote back, when I wrote to them, at addresses found on LP covers – Fred Frith of Henry Cow!  Catalogues turned up from EMI UK, Decca UK (for The Rolling Stones), Virgin Records – then still a mail-order company!  They sent me a huge Gong poster, that had their catalogue on the reverse.

However, it was much too difficult (not to mention expensive) to mail-order records from England.  You had to go to the bank (a specific bank?) and request (pay for) a bank draft in British pounds sterling, and then mail that to England.  That’s a bit abstract, for a teenager in the mid-70’s!

While my brother was still in the US Air Force, he was stationed in West Germany; if I knew exactly what record(s) I wanted and asked him for it in a letter – he would usually send it to me, from Germany!  German pressings!

At some point, I found out about Goldmine Magazine / newspaper.  And I did write to a fair number of people who advertised in there.  The US postal service was so massively important, once upon a time!

I got my first record store job in the summer of 1976, at age 17.  I took it seriously.  Working in a record store does not lessen your interest in music.  I could easily talk to the other people I worked with; Where did they shop for records?  And Iove reminding people: I used to clean the ashtrays at the record store.  They were there as a courtesy to customers (so they wouldn’t flick ash on the carpet, I suppose).

After working for a while, I had enough money to buy an orange Datsun B-210.  I drove that car all over California, looking for records!  I worked at two different record stores (I followed my manager, when he got transferred).  Bellflower, CA and West Covina, CA – if you must know.

After a few years of stores, I made my way to my first record distributor job:  Superior Music, 1747 Flower St., Glendale, CA – approx. 1978.  I learned how to pull an order book from a store; I got to watch people price the records, box them up and label them for shipment.  I learned to run a shrink-wrap tunnel!

I got to meet a real assortment of people, too.  It baffled me that there were people who worked there that “music wasn’t important” to them.  How can this be?  Of course, I also met people who are my good friends to this day.

This entry was posted in 1976, Listening, Music Business, Record Collecting, Record stores, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On the Road – Pt. 6

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    You hit a sour not for me today. You think it was hard for a teenager in the 70s trying to buy a bank draft in Pounds Sterling to mail to England, try being an adult in your twenties-thirties, in Orlando, Florida in the 90s! I regularly beat my head against the wall trying to get bank drafts in British currency to buy things that were haaaaard to get [music so obscure it got no import distribution, basically cottage industry records/discs] to NO AVAIL. Until Paypal hit the scene, it was a huge no go in my life, to much consternation! Every bank I went to trying to obtain this service was clueless. Obviously, just thinking about that has gotten me worked into a lather!

  2. Brian Ware says:

    I ran into a similar challenge during the 80s with Australian currency. I’d get an auction catalog from Phantom Records that would have the most amazing items, but only in Australian dollars. I finally found one employee at one specific branch of my bank that was comfortable with currency exchange and she always came through for me. Yes, Paypal has been a godsend for us all.

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