When I was in my youth my brother-in-law owned a record shop in West End Arcade just off the market square in Nottingham, up an indoor alleyway if that makes any sense. I was always amazed by the rack upon rack of records in there. They were on the walls and in the shop window and just everywhere you could look. I would spend hours of my weekend and all my paper round money on the contents of this shop. It was like a huge magnet drawing me in every Saturday.

When I walked through the door with eyes like saucers I was transported to another world, a world where parents and school work and sisters didn’t exist. It was just me and thousands of records housing sound after sound and a myriad of colours. I got chance to see my brother-in-law’s record collection once. He used to DJ on Radio Trent’s ‘Soul Train’ show and also at various all-nighters around the Midlands and he had what I considered to be a huge collection of 45’s on shelves in one of his bedrooms. I think it was that, that spurred me on to collect records myself.

I’m quite proud of my original Eighties’ stuff and even more so of my own collection of Northern and Tamla and Sixties’ R&B. I have now got into any kind of black music and my love for early Rocksteady, Ska and Reggae has added to my collection along with a driving passion for Disco and Funk. I have however, a miniscule collection in terms of what the folk with plenty of dosh are able to collect. So, this edition of Vinyl Stories pays homage to the guys and girls that collect the lovely black wax on a gargantuan basis. Some of the folk we are about to introduce you to are proper vinyl nuts...

To start with did you know that, and believe it or not but Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister of Hawkwind and Motörhead fame has one of the best Motown and R&B collections in the country? If I’m not mistaken (and I figure you lot will put me right on this) Motörhead’s first legal release was a cover of Motown's ‘Leaving Here’ on Chiswick records and I am reliably informed that Lemmy's first group was a Mod outfit! (The Rockin’ Vicars – Ed)

Snooker loopy Steve Davis is another lover of the round disc. Not exactly sure of its size he admits he probably had eight or nine thousand soul singles and also admits that he was going a bit mad on it at the time. He also has in the region of a couple of thousand soul albums to go with the singles. He has lost or sold some of the progressive rock stuff he had but is reported to have kept the ones he really treasured. Davis is 100% completely vinyl now and has another two or three thousand experimental albums being interested in electronic dance. He also admits to liking the odd bit of techno music and finds the history of that quite fascinating. He discovered a label called Basic Channel which is like a Berlin early analogue-y, dub techno label and hasn't looked back since. His collection is still growing.

You might remember the legendary DJ from Run DMC who was tragically killed in 2002? Well, the fate of his huge collection was uncertain and while it definitely could have gone to a museum, the boxes of records were left in Jam Master Jay’s former studio in Queens, which, at the time was being renovated by new owners. The records were going to be thrown out until someone by the name of Great Zee stopped by and said that they definitely shouldn’t be thrown out because they belonged to a legend. So, Zee has them in his basement now, stacked up on top of each other in milk crates. What I am unable to tell you is whether or not Zee paid anything for them.

Imagine you had access to some of the biggest bands output and lost the lot for them? You’d be gutted? Well, the PIAS Group is the largest independent distributor of records in the U.K., working for dozens of record labels and film studios. Things were going well until PIAS’s North London warehouse was set ablaze during the riots a few summers ago. The warehouse was three stories high and had more than 60,000 square feet of space containing stock for labels like Domino, 4AD, Warp, Ninja Tune and more. Among the release-date casualties was the Arctic Monkeys, whose new single at the time, ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ couldn't be shipped to retailers because the stock had been barbequed in the warehouse inferno.

In some cases, small is quite definitely beautiful. In 1968, the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley asked his first guitarist and manager, Scotty Moore, for some help transferring a stack of old 78s onto tape. The twenty-six records included Carl Perkins, Fats Domino and a handful of other early influences on Presley’s taste for rock and roll. He was supposed to give them back to Elvis when they met up for a tour, but the tour never happened, and the records sat forgotten in a suitcase for a number of years. In May 2010, Moore decided to auction off the collection at the Fame Bureau in London, so that they might find a good home. Despite being only twenty-six discs, the collection fetched a sum of £75,000 at auction.

From black discs to white lines, an innovator of DJing and production, turntablist Grandmaster Flash is as well-known for the research-based approach he used to develop his techniques as he is for the huge range of his vinyl collection and samples. Flash was notoriously protective of his collection admitting that he ‘used to soak his records in the tub before hitting a party to switch the labels so competing artists couldn’t steal his sound.” This is nothing compared to Britain’s Northern Souls DJs who were even more notorious for doing the same thing years earlier.

Although Grandmaster Flash frequented Midtown NYC record stores Disc-o-mat and Downstairs Records, he also went ‘shopping’ at far more exclusive locales. Speaking to a New York magazine Flash admitted, ‘I’m not proud of this — well — a lot of my collection came from dating women’. He went on, ‘If I went to dinner at a person’s house, if I dated somebody and they wanted me to meet their parents, I would say Mrs. — let’s just say the last name was Williams - ‘Mrs. Williams, would you happen to have any old records lying around that you don’t want or need?’’ Flash recalled. ‘And they would say, ‘Boy, go on in that closet right there. There’s a whole bunch of them. I don’t know. We don’t even want that junk. I’d go in there and’ Flash said, pausing to gasp as if a pile of records appeared in front of him. ‘I’d say, ‘Can I go get a shopping cart? I’ll be right back.’ I would take them home and I’d sit there and listen to every cut’. Girls might love the way he spins, but a special shout out is due to all those exes, whose familial wax is responsible for inspiring one of hip hop’s greatest. Thanks girls.

The legend that is BBC Radio One DJ John Peel has probably the most celebrated record collection in Britain: 26,000 albums, 40,000 singles and countless CDs, which spread out of Peel’s office and took over a variety of rooms and outbuildings in the home near Stowmarket he invariably referred to as Peel Acres.

The singles and CDs were filed alphabetically, but the albums were a different matter. They are all filed numerically and cross-referenced with a very old filing cabinet, full of small filing cards that John hand typed himself on his old Olivetti typewriter. The way you access them is that you look in the filing cabinet, find the file card alphabetically, and on the top corner there's a number. Nineteen Sixty-Eight’s ‘Save the Last Gherkin For Me’ by Mike Absalom as it happens is number 00001 in Peel's filing system. In between, he has offered whimsical, slightly vaudevillian comic sagas of sex and drugs in Notting Hill (then a bohemian enclave of high hippiedom) with titles such as ‘The Saga of Peaches Melba and the Hash Officer’, and ‘Hector the Dope-Sniffing Hound’.

A flick through the other ninety-nine cards filed under Section A proves equally illuminating. The Mick Abrahams Band, Action Pact, AC Temple. Moving down the list are outings by bands such as Fuckin’ 4 Bucks and I’ll Be Glad When You're Dead and there is even a card that features no track listing at all, merely the dark summary ‘16 songs in Hungarian’.

There are also albums whose presence among the great man’s record collection might cause even the most dedicated fans to raise an eyebrow. He obviously had a liking for A-ha’s 1986 multi-platinum ‘Scoundrel Days’ and who would have thought he owned a copy of ABBA’s disco influenced ‘Voulez-Vous’. And this is just A. The remaining 2,500 albums are still top secret, although the presence of A-ha and ABBA is just the tip of the iceberg. Apparently Peel used to worry about the collection so much that, a long time before he died, he’d already talked to the British Library and people about it. He really did want it to stay as a collection. I think I can help out here. if they want to put it somewhere I have a spare bedroom here at home to house it? I fear the room may not be big enough…

The last two bits of trivia for you are from the other side of the world. The Diaz Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection or DAC as it is known as, is the most extensive publicly available collection of Cuban music in the United States. It was donated to Florida International University Libraries in 2001 by the Cuban discographer and Lawyer Cristobal Diaz Ayala. The archive supports the Florida International University’s mission of teaching, research, and service by providing means for the discovery and the pursuit of knowledge. It was started before 1960 in Cuba and then restarted again in Puerto Rico, with the collection currently comprising approximately 150,000 units,

If you want the Granddaddy of them all when it comes to collectors, meet Zero Freitas, a wealthy 62-year-old Brazilian businessman who has spent most of life amassing a collection of ‘several million’ records. For years Freitas has been scouring the world, buying up records from some of the world’s most prominent collectors, including Pittsburgh based former music-store owner Paul Mawhinney, who sold his collection of over three million back in 2008. Music writer Bob George sold 2.2 million items to Zero and an anonymous Brazilian collector sold him one million items too.

Freitas now has a team of international scouts scattered across New York, Mexico City, South Africa, Nigeria, and Cairo, all of whom negotiate deals on his behalf and ship thousands of records to back to Brazil every month. ‘I’ve gone to therapy for forty years to try to explain this to myself’, he said when speaking to the ‘New York Times’. ‘Maybe it's because I was alone… I don’t know’. According to the NY Times article, his obsession is tied up with his childhood memories of his father playing records. When he finished high school, he had already built up a collection of over 3,000 records. He now stores them in a 25,000 square-foot warehouse in Sao Paulo.

Aware that the collection is largely useless if people aren’t able to access it, Freitas has now begun preparing the Emporium Musical - a non-profit organisation which will act as a music library, with listening stations set up amongst the shelves. He's also on a mission to digitalise as much of the collection as possible, as up to 80% of Brazilian music recorded in the 20th Century is yet to be transferred. ‘It’s very important to save this’ he said. ‘Very important’. I’d say so too, he is reported to have over eight million records!















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