The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wallach's Music City

11-19-07 Wallach’s Music City

My 87-year-old mother recently found the pictured bag in the closet in her bedroom. The receipt inside dates it July 19, 1965. $1.29 – must’ve been an EP!

Hollywood (Sunset & Vine), Lakewood (Lakewood Center), Buena Park (Buena park Center), Torrance (Hawthorne & Artesia), Canoga Park (Topanga Plaza), West Covina (Eastland Center), Costa Mesa (South Coast Plaza) and El Toro (Saddleback Valley Plaza). Because of my locale, I naturally frequented the Lakewood store – but I think I went to each and every other Wallach’s, with the possible exception of El Toro – I do not remember ever going to that one. However, I certainly remember the Tower Records in El Toro (both of ‘em!).

Sadly, a Wherehouse (now called F.Y.E. = ‘For Your Entertainment’) now stands where the Lakewood and Torrance Wallach’s stores once stood. Amoeba Hollywood is near where the Hollywood Wallach’s was – Amoeba @ Cahuenga, Wallach’s at Vine – on Sunset Blvd. I certainly remember the display window of the Hollywood Wallach’s – all made up for “Magical Mystery Tour”!

Wallach’s had little booths where one could ‘audition’ promo copies of LP’s – the sight of a white label “Fresh Cream” is forever burned into my memory – straining to try and hear “Toad” in that little booth! You had to walk through a turnstile to get into the row of booths. Probably, they wouldn’t let kids in on their own – I bet I went with my dad. Which are the ‘rock’ records, dad?

I learned what King Crimson was in a Wallach’s Music City. I had the temerity to buy 2 different Elvis Presley EP’s from Wallach’s – long ago enough that one could still find EP’s stocked, for sale. And I remember when they did away with the booths – I was likely already going to hippie record stores by that time. If one went to Licorice Pizza, Platterpuss, The Phineas, Mundae, Lewin’s Record Paradise, The Psychedelic Supermarket, Poo Bah’s (which is still in biz, folks!)…you didn’t have to sift through easy listening or classical LP’s, like you did at Wallach’s. Wallach’s also sold sheet music – remember sheet music? Apparently, at the start of the previous century, the music business was driven by the sales of sheet music – and now people barely even know what that is / was.

I still have my Spike Jones and Beatles records I bought at Wallach’s Music City. And certainly my Elvis EP’s (“Shake, Rattle & Roll” etc). And a couple of Coasters 45’s (“Run Red Run”). Ooh, let’s ‘special order’ “The Ballad of Thunder Road” by Robert Mitchum! Or “Twine Time” by Alvin Cash & The Crawlers. Or “Telstar” by The Tornados. I remember that “Abbey Road” came out in September of 1969 and they it was a dollar more than all of the other LP’s around at that time. How come? It wasn’t any ‘longer’ – and it certainly wasn’t a ‘special’ package. Oh, it’s The Beatles – and it’s a dollar more because it can be a dollar more – and people will still buy it.


Blogger cph said...

Growing up in the 70's, we used to go to the one in Torrance. Mostly to buy sheet music for our piano lessons, but occasionally we'd look around in other parts of the store. (and to play the "Pong" video game in the TV section!)

It all went away in mid-78, I think....

10:38 AM  
Anonymous James Wilson said...

When I was a little kid, my Dad took me to the grand opening of the Hawthorne & Artesia Wallach's store in Torrance. They had a flat bed truck trailer which was used as a stage by the featured band - The Beach Boys! Their set list included "Surfin Safari", "Surfer Girl" and "Long Tall Texan". Each Fender amp had one guitar and one mic plugged in - no PA yet - so Brian Wilson was singing through a Bassman! I was amazed by the quality of their harmonies!

10:48 PM  
Blogger nsalmon said...

I was also at that Torrance store grand opening, primarily to go to the Beach Boys' amazing free concert. I remember that they did the same "Little Deuce Coupe" intro schtick that they did on their first "Concert" album. Brian was at fighting weight and his voice was in top form. That Wallach's had phonograph listening booths. Very cool!

10:04 AM  

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