beatles ezy ryder

Andy Tubb, Stuart Hamilton, Derek Renshaw, Ray Canham and Keith Jones reminisce (please email me with your record shop owner stories)

" Back in 1982, I'd read in Beatle Monthly that EMI were going to start re-releasing Beatles singles on the 20th anniversary. It suggested that the picture disc would be very limited so you should pre-order. I naively took the hype at face value and attempted to order at my local record shop. Living in a small town at the time, it was still one of those old places that was really an electrical store with a small section of records. I spoke to the man behind the counter and explained I wanted a copy of The Beatles' Love Me Do, emphasising that I wanted the picture disc. I wasn't entirely sure that he understood the difference between a picture sleeve and a picture disc, but I tried my best. My heart sunk further, though, when I was leaving the shop and he called out to me, a puzzled expression on his face, "What was the name of that band again? 'The Beatles' you say?"
(As feared, come day of release, they did only have the standard black vinyl… but thankfully I did manage to get a picture disc in another town.) (Andy Tubb)

In Edinburgh a chap called Bert Muirhead was legendary for his rudeness. Unluckily for us, he also ran the best second hand record shop in town - Ezy Ryder. Along with his long suffering assistant Eric, I first* encountered him when EZ was based in the Oddfellows Hall and I then followed them round their assorted shops before they finally petered out in the less salubrious Dalry Road, a place only renowned for being my birthplace.
Subsequently Bert would still have a stall at various record fairs and continued his rudeness there. The two best know stories of him involve Freddie Mercury and Faust.
I think they were in their Tollcross shop when Freddie died. As you would expect when a famous musician dies, the next day saw everyone trying to buy some Queen records. But not in Ezy Ryder. Bert put all the Queen stock in the basement and refused to sell it to customers with a cry of “if he wisnae good enough for you while he was alive, you’re not fucking getting it now he’s deid”. In fact, not a visit went buy without him berating someone for their perceived lack of taste.
He didn't mellow in his record stall days as the story is told by an Aberdeen resident who'd frequented Ezy Ryder back when he was a schoolboy living in Fife of a trip to a record fair in Aberdeen where he asked if they had anything by Faust. "We sell music, no fucking noise" was the roared response. And sure enough, twenty years older but still angry. There was Bert. Happy days. He still exists on Ebay where you can buy original copies of his seventies music mag Hot Wacks.
I was lucky. As a 13 year old record virgin, the first record I bought off him was "If You Want Blood" by AC/DC. He never picked on me! (Stuart Hamilton)

"I remember a time in a collectors record shop in central London (since gone out of business). Whilst I was there browsing, a guy in a suit came in the shop and looked through some of the racks of records picking out an album that was of fairly mainstream music (I can’t remember precisely what the record was, maybe of disco music). A while after the guy left the chap behind the till came around to the front of the counter and picked a rail season ticket off the floor, proudly announcing that he saw the guy drop it but didn’t tell him because his choice of record showed he was not cool."(Derek)

"I was on my holidays somewhere in deepest darkest Hampshire when I stumbled upon a car boot sale. After the usual dross I found a stall that looked like the contents of a proper record store spread out on groaning trestle tables. There was a fair selection of collectable stuff in excellent condition, or at least the sleeves were. When I went to inspect a lovely looking copy of Deep Purple's Live in Japan I got a stern rebuke from the stall holder asking me not to open it. Bearing in mind that it wasn't sealed I asked about the condition...
"Why do you want to know?"
Initially stumped by the question I rallied and said that I wouldn't buy anything without inspecting it first.
I'd never seen anyone actually humph with his whole body before but that's what he did as he pulled the first of two shiny slabs of vinyl out and with an exaggerated sign said "there you go...Sir..."
"Very nice, but it says Black Sabbath on the label."
It's fair to say he wasn't pleased. I passed him a couple more times that morning. When he wasn't standing around with a puzzled expression and an empty sleeve in one hand and a slab of unrelated vinyl in the other he was berating potential customers. It seemed most of his stock was mismatched and I'd love to have known why but I darn't ask him.
And I never got that Deep Purple record." (Ray)

"I used to frequent a particular record shop in Colchester that also brought records from impoverished students like me. I took a few in that I wasn't interested in anymore, among them a very nice copy of The Who Sells Out. The proprietor disappeared upstairs to inspect my offerings, leaving me to browse the racks, where I found a copy of The Who's record with a rip in the sleeve and on sale for a princely sum. So I was a little surprised when he offered me some paltry amount for my copy and I triumphantly pulled his copy from the rack and questioned his pricing.
He pointed out that his copy had the poster and mine didn't and therefore wasn't worth as much, even without a damaged sleeve, but he did up his offer a fraction and I took the money.
On a later visit I discovered 'his' copy of the album, complete with poster, had been promoted to the wall with a higher price tag and mysteriously the rip in the sleeve seemed to have healed itself." (Ray)

"Andy Bracken and I used to make an occasional visit to my nearest record shop - Langleys Records - whenever Andy was over from the USA. Geoff Langley had been running the shop for many, many years (sadly the shop's lease was grabbed back by the local council a couple of years ago and the shop turned into a Tesco Express, or something) and must have been well into his 70s.
If I called in by myself, I could spend a happy hour in there, perusing the rarely-changing stock and listening to Geoff gently parting unsuspecting visitors from their pink label Island copies of King Crimson albums for a few quid
Strangely, whenever Andy was with me, Geoff would simply look up at us from his chair behind the counter, sigh wearily and say, "fuck off" (Keith)

As usual, a holiday abroad with Liz was just an excuse for me to check out the local record shops, and that's how we found ourselves in a back street in Chania, in Crete.
There was a decent enough vinyl shop on the high street, but the owner seemed as interested in selling stuff as England are at taking wickets, so a shop that promised 'vinyl' on a hand-written sign in the window looked promising.

Vinyl - yes, but piled on top of each other, in tatty outer sleeves, few inner sleeves, records scratched to buggery - and most of them desperately bad 80s compilations (is there any other kind?); the finishing touch came from the young shop assistant - at least she looked pleased that someone was taking an interest in them, "priced according to discogs", she proudly told us. (Keith)

    Desert Island Fish you might be interested in....

  • Jack Ellister

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