The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, March 26, 2007

70's / 60's Memories - Part 2

My first desire for “imports” was because of trying to find songs that weren’t on the “regular” (i.e. American) albums for artists like The Rolling Stones and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. I don’t remember the entire transaction, but I am going to guess that my dad was who paid for my “Got Live If You Want It” British Decca EP and my “Come On” British Decca 45 – at Lewin’s Record Paradise on Hollywood Blvd., 464-8088 – just west of Wilcox, north side of the street. My brother must’ve told him where it was, who had the coveted “British imports”…

“Where do you think has the most record stores in the world?”, I parenthetically asked whoever would listen to me. Likely my dad said, “Probably Hollywood” – so to Hollywood we went. My mom was more of a “Farmer’s Market” (3rd & Fairfax) person, but my dad would take me to Hollywood Blvd.! The aforementioned “Record Paradise”, “Phil Harris Record Shop”, “Pacific Discount Records”, “Vogue Records”…and, up a side street, “The Psychedelic Supermarket”! So it wad true! Hollywood did have the most record stores!

I could ask my brother or my sisters – but the Phonolog and the Schwann Record Catalog had the nuts & bolts info. And let’s not forget the informative inner-sleeves that some labels put record covers on – I refer, of course, to the magnificent Atco Records inner-sleeves…forever teasing me with color reproductions the size of a large postage stamp of the ‘forbidden fruit’…the records I had never seen in a store…Tom Sankey “Sings Songs From The Golden Screw”, “The Best of Chickenman”, “Coast Along With The Coasters”…

I had a yellow legal pad, a Smith-Corona typewriter, and a box of Rolodex cards. The Atco inner-sleeves could provide quite a bit of information, but I had to use the Schwann Record Catalogs to find the titles not on the inner-sleeve, things like Rene Bloch (when I eventually found the Atco Rene Bloch LP, it was even autographed!). Did it matter to me what kind of music it was? I had to find out what “Music For Space Squirrels” was. I did Atco, Atlantic, Elektra, Sire (“SES” series), Deram…and eventually Vertigo, Neon, Nepentha, Harvest, Island, Charisma…only 13 and already writing label discographies!

Of course the British labels were more interesting than the American labels! So, I wrote to Island Records on Basing Street, and requested a catalogue. They referred me to an exporter who sent me other catalogues. Hot dang! Letters to The Rolling Stones Fan Club, letters to Virgin Records Mailorder (who sent me a Gong poster!)…

A real treat in the early 70’s was to get an issue of Billboard. My mother would sometimes buy one for me when we went to the newsstand at Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles. Wow, a whole chart! And “Charts of the World”! Hey, there’s a whole world of this stuff! I also tried Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy, the Los Angeles Free Press, and, when I could find them, Melody Maker, Sounds and New Musical Express. When my parents went on vacation to Europe, my mom brought me Ciao 2001, Rock & Folk, Oor, Bravo…and my brother was stationed in Germany. He could buy records in the (Air Force) “base exchange” or he could go into town, “on the economy”.

Sorry to not keep the narrative so direct – in the summer of 1972, I rode my bike all the way to Belmont Shores (5 or 6 miles from my house?) – I had some money, a 10-speed bike, and the inclination. There was a nice small hippie record store on Belmont Pier called “Mundae” – it was run by a nice (to me) guy who I think was called Wayne. His small store had a “used bin” (i.e. more cheap records) and he stocked some imported titles. I think this is the same store that used to be on 62nd Place – out by the jetty. Oh, gosh – this is such old hippie information about Long Beach, California!

On 7th Street in Long Beach, there were two record stores that I knew of: Platterpuss (down by Pacific Coast Hwy.) and Larry’s Records (near Redondo). Platterpuss was a hippie record store, with used LP, imports, incense…the guys in there weren’t as friendly as the hippies at Licorice Pizza, the downtown Long Beach record store – but Platterpuss had really inexpensive used LP’s – stuff as low as 25 cents…or even a dime (10 cents). Another hippie record store in Long Beach was “Phineas” (I think that was what it was called) on Anaheim St. (near Cherry Ave. – more incense etc).

Larry’s Records was a different story – was this my first glimpse into what really super old time record stores were like – or was Larry the proto-type for ‘weird creepy old record guys’? His dark little store sure had a lot of records – but many of them weren’t priced. If you dared ask Larry the price, he would take the LP from your hands and write it’s price on the rear cover – in blue ball point pen! Aargh! Yes, I still have my “Child’s Garden of Freberg” with Larry’s “$1.49” written on the back cover. He had a dog called “Major”. I don’t think Larry liked having “kids” come into his store. There was no incense in his store – it just smelled like dusty old records. I heard some time later that he had been a successful, famous 1950’s record guy in Hollywood – I presume he passed away.

As previously mentioned, the people who were nice to me were at the Licorice Pizza record store at 131 W. 5th Street in downtown Long Beach. The names I remember were Mike, Jack and Vickie. I think they thought it was cool that I wanted the Wild Man Fischer album, and that I knew who / what Frank Zappa was. When I would bring my purchase to the counter, one of them would tap their pen on the record cover and say, “Really cool album!” – the proceed to hand-write out the receipt, “Import LP - $4.99” (sorry, I don’t remember what the tax was then, 5%?).

It was all about The Beatles. Everybody loved The Beatles – and everything was in the shadow of The Beatles – for a while. It was cool to like The Rolling Stones or The Who – and, of course, the San Francisco bands were all groovy in the hippie record stores – Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & The Fish, Janis Joplin

But my little guy 12/13 year old world was still being formed – what did I understand about the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin? Congratulations – the road to adulthood had adventures and disappointments and surprises – most of which were good. But I certainly understood the concept of ‘reverence’, in regards to pop music. Gotta respect the people who went before me, the guys laying the road.


Blogger Brian Ware said...

I'm certainly enjoying this very cool direction you're taking your blog. Thanks for taking the time with all the details as it's recalling many of my own similar experiences. Reminisce away!!

9:30 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

Cheers, Brian! (Watch your mailbox, dude!)

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for honoring my request from last week and sharing more of your record memories. These two posts (and the Schwann catalog post) are just great, and your detailed recollections really evoke an era with great precision. More, please!

(If it's any consolation, that Tom Sankey LP is pretty awful. The Chickenman disc, as I'm sure you must be aware by now, is a thing of total joy and delight.)

P.S. There must be more people than me who would pay good money for a Decayes box--those records are great!

12:00 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

Hi Anonymous,

Glad you enjoy some of the writing. I have 2 x copies of the Tom Sankey (mono & stereo) and, of course, only a mono copy of the Chickenman LP (as no stereo of it exists) - and I have other Dick Orkin LP's (one of which is even under the name of Chickenman!)

I doubt a boxed set of The Decayes will come to exist as there are no masters for some of the albums, and our first producer, Jordan L. Shroyer - passed away some time ago.

While I own everything outright - when the CD of "horNetZ" got made, rest assured it was to my specification. You can't believe how they were going to do the track breaks - just awful - and that's why i made it "Side One and "Side Two" - can you spot the edit I made? There is ONE.

If you give a more specific outline, I can try and write about it. I get the impression that not everybody enjoys my brand of nostalgia...



8:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home