“00individual’s Mythic ’70s Record and Tape Store” copyright 2013 00individual TLL
EXPERIENCE RECORD STORE CULTURE CHRONICLES!
1st quarter 1971 to 2nd quarter 1971 – Crane’s Record Store, Inglewood, CA
2nd quarter 1971 to 1st quarter 1972 – Crane’s Record Store, Palos Verdes, CA
THE MAVERICK YEARS!
First, know that the following played out across the U.S and the world for that matter during those historic years of 1965 through 1975; this is just one individual’s experience of that kick-ass cool, far out era.
In the late ’60s and early ’70s all you needed to start a bona-fide Head Shop, Book Store, Clothing Store or Record Store was $2,000.00 and you were in biz; fixtures, inventory and rent. Back then you could make stuff happen.
When my girlfriend and I and our three dogs decided (yes, they were in on the decision) to move back to L.A. after a winter of High Adventures in Mammoth Mountain; I was able to defeat hundreds of other applicants for a job at the notoriously-discounted and famously-known Crane’s Records in Inglewood; the Home of the Fabulous Forum! (See at bottom.)
Well, …actually at $1.00 an hour, ten hours a day from 10 AM until 8 PM, Monday through Sunday (seven days a week) – for three months straight – no one else wanted the job.
I was already known to Crane as a previous good customer and music/vinyl fiend and this was my door to the “record biz” and I wanted in.
Once hired, my responsibilities included picking-up orders from the One Stops and distributors, stocking the bins, running the cash register, keeping inventory, providing up to the minute info to customers, serving as the “bouncer” for the store, attempted collecting on bad checks in person with the store’s “marketing” guy and constantly inserting those weekly yellow updated pages that contained the record names, artists and label catalog numbers into the massive Phonolog catalog “data-base” – this was the bible back then – the blue pages were the Classical releases.
After a crash course of three months of record store boot camp and upon achieving super-human knowledge coupled with my trivia-obsessed blessing/curse, I was put in charge as sole manager of Crane’s Palos Verdes store located near the beach, just north of Malaga Cove which was around the point from the original “Marineland” of the Pacific.
I got a $3.00 raise to $4.00 an hour; managed split shifts with one, sometimes two days off a week, (but always on call*), hired an assistant manager and met the existing clerks; and I was in my element! This was the coolest next to owning the store myself.
As Manager I ordered all of the LPs, tapes and new releases based on my now professional knowledge and discretion of sales, arranged employee’s schedules and was responsible for all aspects of the store’s business. These were responsibilities that I embraced as it got me deeper into the whole Record Biz and it was a job that literally gave me pleasure, kind of a natural high!
I mean, dig it, I got paid to listen to and educate myself on all genres of available music and became a human bank of knowledge with imprinted data from record label’s catalog numbers, album names, songs, bands, band members and the instruments they played and general to insanely specific Pop/Rock/Movie trivia – all retained without any deliberate intent.
I still have album catalog numbers from WarnerElektraAtlantic, Columbia, RCA, Capitol, and so on, memorized to this day. This type of memory served me well as a “T-6” Malibu postman as I memorized and delivered one-third of all of Malibu and was a “Postman to the Stars” to Madonna and Sean, Michael Jackson, Sam Peckinpah, the Exorcist author William Peter Blatty and many top TV and movie stars – this was back in the early half of the Last Great Decade; the ’80s.
A Record Store Manager back in the early to mid ’70s was seen by some girl “record store groupies” as close to a Rock Star as they’d ever get and I discreetly exploited that persona with my “Rock” uniform of Frye Boots, Jeans, t-shirt, jacket and long hair – that persona served me well, way up into my “Hollywood” days of designing and sculpting licensed action figures, toys, statues and collectibles in the mid-to-late ’90s. I’d walk in to meetings at the major studios with the appearance of a “Rebel Artist”, and that was always good for business as the suits would smile because they already felt assured that I’d design some kick-ass cool shit for them, and I would. Rockers Rule!
The guy store groupies, or Music Aficionados, unlike the girls, knew if you managed a record store you had to know your shit, so I would be challenged or respectfully questioned daily. But that was cool ‘cuz I knew everything back then, all there was to know and then some, I was good! How good? Just like in the Cusack movie “High Fidelity”, I had a customer come in once who said, “I don’t know the name of the song and I don’t know the name of the artist …” I stopped him, motioned him to follow me, and a few bins down I pulled out an album and handed it to him. Looking at the album he smiled, remembered and confirmed that it was the record he wanted, and said, “You’re good!”.
Today, that’s just called profiling, but back then I was psychic!
Imaginary Crane’s record store customer.
Being a Record Store Manager gave me a certain level of Rock Cred with whatever groups or people I met. I never flaunted it, as I was way too cool for that, but if someone weren’t local or part of the Vinyl Cult and asked, I was proud to say, “I manage a Record Store” which then followed with, “What store?” I’d reply, “Crane’s, . . . Independent“, Back then the Counter Culture celebrated and supported independence that stood up to the “establishment” and their corporate store chains.
I was totally diggin’ my scene.
As Manager I got the pick of the promo LPs and tapes from just about every label and all were available to me from day one. So I was always up on the latest releases and literally sampled everything from rock, pop, jazz, folk, blues, soundtracks, comedy, show tunes, classical, spoken word, anything, everything as every day brought new releases. Plus my record collection began to grow as I was consuming more and more music for free or at cost and at the same time widening my musical horizons.
That store became my second home and I really styled and customized the place; I took the fixtures from a clothes store next door that had closed and installed their slanted shingled “roof” over the length of the whole cash register area; supported by slender real tree trunk poles braced at both ends, this gave the counter area a “natural” environment and a nice place for me to do my business.
As Manager I retained a good rapport with all of my customers, but sometimes there would be an unreasonable customer and this being the phase that I smoked cigarettes (too cool, ya know?)
I would use cigarettes as great props for dealing with troublemakers – as many a wise pause to reflect a professional yet witty shut-down comeback rested in an inhale and slow exhale.
With a wall of cassettes behind me I’d look out across my domain and down all of the aisles as my satisfied subjects flipped through bins of choice records while Hendrix’ “In the West” was cranked or Neil Young’s “Harvest” or Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out” or T-Rex’ “Electric Warrior”, or America’s 1st LP – and those were just the most recent Warners/Reprise releases!!! Good times? No, epic times!
Crane’s started offering “limited” electronic equipment and stereo systems and through him I acquired a Sansui QR-4500 Quadraphonic Receiver/Power Station (above – front and back) AND 4 Altec Lansing speakers AND a Teac 2340 Simul-Sync 4 Channel Open Reel to Reel Quad Tape Deck (below – that my good buddy and I used my to make a radio spot for Crane’s that aired on either KMET or KLOS) all at cost – Crane had all kinds of deals going on.
But he was no different than any of the other independent Counter Culture businesses of Record Stores, Head Shops, Hippie Boutiques, Second Hand Stores or Street-Vendors – they all took their entrepreneurial energies seriously and worked hard while operating loose, from the hip and under the table as much as possible. The successes of these Counter Culture shops inspired “social storefronts” like Free Clinics, Draft Counselors and grass roots groups like Green Power and other community service and alternative business models that became part of our Hippie Landscape.
These were the Maverick Years when the rogue rules of business were being made and you could do “legitimate” business under the radar. My good buddy and I were part of this “legitimate” business under the radar as Candle Entrepreneurs prior to my “record biz career”.
Very fortunately I have had jobs that I actually enjoyed going to and working at – that’s a rare experience for anyone . . . but, it just seemed natural back then, not so much easy, but natural to flow into work positions that were pleasant, fun, interesting and exciting even – life was exceptional.
And we didn’t have to do too much other than hold on tight for the daily ride – cool shit was always happening; here’s a groovy Record Store example: Hippie Levitation After Hours at Crane’s Records.
*One late night I got a call from Crane that the alarm went off in the Palos Verdes store, so I drove over quickly to check it out; someone who obviously had it in for Crane ran a car up and into the huge ground-to-top-of-the-door full-length frontage window, which exploded the wall of cassettes half-way into the store – the place was a mess – shards of glass and cassettes tapes were everywhere – but my shingled roof was still standing!
I had a lot of clean-up to do – a Record Store Manager’s work is never done . .
1960s – 1970s Culture Archives
Record Store Manager
1960s – 1970s Culture Archives
Adventures as and L.A. Record and Tape Rack Jobber!
(view it now!)
1st quarter 1972 thru last quarter 1973 – (Record and Tape Rack Jobber) Record Rack/One Stop,
Vermont and Normandie, L.A., serviced greater L.A. and all of the Southland
1960s – 1970s Culture Archives
Record Store of the Stars!
(view it now!)
1st quarter 1974 – Grammy n Granny’s Record Store, Westchester/LAX
(The Grammys threatened to sue so the owners changed their name to DisConnection)
2nd quarter 1974 thru all of 1975 – DisConnection Record Store (GnG’s), Westwood Village/UCLA
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