“My parents bought me a hi-fi with a record player when I was 7. I got my first 7″ for Christmas that year, it was Cliff Richards’ ‘Mistletoe and Wine.'”
“There were always records in the house because of my Dad. He used to have this Led Zeppelin 3 12″. I remember that from when I was 6 but didn’t listen to the album until I was 7. I just remember it because it had a cool sleeve you could turn like a playground roundabout. My Mum came home one night after seeing Michael Jackson’s Bad tour and had his 12″ LP and that’s when I really fell in love with music.
CDs came into fashion then and I forgot about vinyl until I was 12 years old, I was big into hip hop and tried to replicate the scratching on my parents hi-fi with my old Bart Simpson ‘Do the Bart Man’ record.
“I have always bought vinyl and I’m embarrassed for my bandmates when I say that I am the only one of us (5 adults!) who has the passion. Growing up I was introduced to the format, as many kids my age were, by Disney and Sesame Street records. My sister is older than me by enough that we still had these around the house when most people had moved on to cassettes. I was also strongly influenced at a tender age by an Alf flexidisc I received with my kid’s meal from Burger King.”
“Eventually we no longer had a turntable in the house and the stash of family records was moved to a shelf in the basement where they sat for roughly a decade until I did what every late ’90s teenager worth his piercings did and decided to become a DJ. Inspired by Beck lyrics, that first actually-really-good Fatboy Slim album (you know, with Santa Cruz on it?), and DJ Shadow’s Entroducing, I obtained some turntables and a grossly-underpowered little DJ sampler. The pile of mildewed vinyl was rescued from my brother’s friends’ frisbee games and I started exploring.
In addition to kids albums there was a lot of show tune stuff and classical albums, as well as my personal favorite at the time—the soundtrack to the TV show Mission Impossible. I tried, in vain, to make my terrible 8 second Gemini sampler do the impossible while drooling over MPCs in the Musicians Friend catalog. I never got to the point of making songs from samples like Mr. Cook or DJ Shadow (I don’t think I even really knew how they did it then) but I did develop some basic DJing ability and could eventually match beats and was mixing bits of my parents’ old collection in with current 12”s I was buying.
“I always loved going to my Gammy and Papa’s (my father’s parents) 75 acres with a beautiful lake and hills out in Carbondale, Illinois. There is a college there (SIU) and it was a big deal to go in this rad place called Plaza Wuxtry and get CDs and patchouli oil, but I didn’t actually start collecting vinyl until later in my life.”
“Growing up, I was influenced by a lot of albums, including the first and second Blind Melon albums, Rap Beginnings Volume One, a Yes Fragile tape with no cover that my mom had for some reason, a Metallica Black Album with no cover that my mom had for some reason, a whole bunch of classic ’90s alternative stuff, folk style music like John Denver, Weezer, Beck—my sister listened to a bunch of awesome ’90s singing groups like Boyz II Men, Shai, Color Me Bad, etc.
At the time, I acted like I didn’t like it but now when I reflect on it, I think it had a positive effect for helping me be comfortable to make emotional songs. My parents don’t really listen to jazz at all and one day I found a Chick Corea live acoustic band tape with Dave Weckl on drums and I had never really heard someone play drums like that.
“There is a sound that comes only from the needle of a record player hitting the vinyl. It’s that silence beforehand and then, eventually, that first moment before the music when one can hear the little artifacts of dust, the crackle of vinyl. That is a sound like no other, and one that has always excited me since childhood.”
“Then there were the Jensen speakers my parents had connected to our record player. When I was a teen, they tried multiple times to sell them in garage sales, and each and every time I rescued them from leaving me. They sit unused in my living room to this day, but I exhibit them like trophies to the memories they hold within them.
My mother had what I recall as being a diverse but also impressive vinyl collection. There was everything from Little Feat, the Beatles, Linda Ronstadt, Clapton, and Michael Jackson all the way to the Let’s Disco dance instructional album and the very beloved family copy of the Reader’s Digest Christmas Collection. My favorite album, and an artist that I feel was never fully appreciated to her full extent, was Joan Armatrading’s Show Some Emotion.
“I hadn’t really thought about this before, but vinyl has a pretty profound link to my early memories of family and music.”
“When I was little my dad would play records every night. I have vivid memories of listening to Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and Credence Clearwater Revival on record. In winter in Sydney it was too cold to be anywhere else in the house but by the fire. At night my mum, dad, brother and I, and our dog Phoebe would sit in front of the fire and listen to vinyl.
Our lights in the house were really dull. I remember the darkness, the warmth, the crackling and scratching, the smell of the house and the fire, our grandmothers ugly brown velvet couches, my pajamas. When my parents would have groggy dinner parties, I remember managing to fall asleep despite the music and drunkenness getting sufficiently louder. The sound of vinyl so genuinely reminds me of what I treasure most in life; my family and music. Those early days of listening to vinyl marked the beginning of an endless obsession with music.
“I used to work in a record store. It was (and still is) called Toonerville Trolley, owned by a lanky, tufty haired dude named Hal March. Hal’s shop was shotgun style, a long hallway front door to back with CDs and box sets as you walked in by a hand cranked register—shelves of vinyl by the bathroom in crinkled plastic sleeves.”
“When Hal was working there was always loud and fucking weird music playing, distorted free jazz solo saxophone explorations recorded in a basement somewhere. He would tell me about shows he’d gone to, shows you would have to wear the kind of headphones you’d use when lawn mowing for hours or directing airplanes down a runway.
I loved working at Toonerville and I made no money. My paycheck went towards buying out Hal’s stock at wholesale price so I guess NEITHER of us made any money, but he had a kid to lock the doors for him when he wanted to go home or take a day off.
“When I was 12 years old my parents’ vinyl collection was everything. It spanned an entire wall, floor to ceiling, a collection of LPs and 45s that acted as the soundtrack to my existence. When you opened the front door to our home, the vinyl collection took center stage. In fact, their collection did more than solely affect me on a sonic level, it captivated as visual art.”
“This wall told a story of discipline and creatively because building it took time and determination. The diversity of the collection was a catalyst for me and is why I’m always seeking to harmonize seemingly disparate parts or opposing musical ideas.
That vinyl wall made our small row home in West Philadelphia feel grand. It represented timelessness and history to me. Sarah Vaughan sitting next to David Bowie, Frank Sinatra stacked right beside Nina Simone, The Ohio Players there with Led Zeppelin, Miles next to The Beatles, they were all in harmony on that wall. There were no categories. That vinyl wall was the great unify-er in my little world. So today, it’s no wonder I come up with albums like my debut Kaleidoscopic and my newly released Flight of The Donn T. It’s second nature.
“The first record I ever recall playing was Peter & The Wolf when I was around 3 years old. I was enamored by the album art, the orchestral sounds. It was the jewel of my childhood collection. Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” was another that sticks out in my mind, and of course I was a fan of my parents’ Harry Nilsson and Jim Croce records…”
“But truthfully, vinyl was not to be a lifelong love affair for me, but rather a playful flirtation that waxed and waned throughout my life, offering me opportunity after opportunity to discover new sounds, but never dominating or demanding much from me, as I saw happen with so many friends. For this reason, it always stayed fun. I never felt bogged down by a heavy collection or an obsession to own everything.
The most significant touchstone in my relationship with vinyl was the time that, at age 12, I unearthed a copy of the Misfits’ Walk Among Us while cleaning out my Grandmother’s garage in Lodi, NJ. It is the stuff that myths are made of, how pure to discover a band like that independent of any social influence, and no way to “research” who they were after the fact (or who had left it there for that matter). Perhaps because of this, Glenn Danzig would have a lifelong influence on me.
“I guess you could call us ‘old souls.'”
“Even though we’re only 21, there’s been a record player in our family’s living room our entire lives and we were still using cassettes into the 2010s, although mostly for recording lessons and/ or new songs.
A couple of years back, we finally stumbled upon the albums that went with the turntable; classics by artists like Carole King, Paul Simon, and Judy Collins and we were hooked. We began venturing out to local record stores, our favorite being the Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, NJ, and found some really cool records including Herbie Hancock and James Taylor.
Soon, friends and fans found out about our new obsession and began buying us LPs by our all-time favorites such as Ray Charles and Sam & Dave. And our “vinyl obsession” was most recently fully satisfied when our dear friend and legendary music critic Dave Marsh invited us to help him “clean out” some of his storage space. Boy, did we make a killing! A bunch of classics—Elvis, Bruce, B.B., Dylan, Jackson Browne albums as well as a number of box sets, including the legendary Phil Spector box.
“Vinyl was far extinct by the time I was old enough to buy music. I grew up in the MP3 and file sharing generation, but I’ll never forget the first time I really discovered vinyl. I remember thinking ‘Wow, how the hell did this giant disc fit in my parents’ car?”
“I was immediately curious. I mean you could touch it, feel it, smell it, flip it around from side A to B—and MAN—the first time I laid down vinyl on a turntable, that crackling noise just gave me shivers down my spine. I felt as if I was in the room with the artist. There is something vibrant, blooming, yet haunting about vinyl. It smells, feels, and sounds real. It is the ultimate authentic.
I grew up in a family rich with musical taste. My eldest sister was a classical pianist, my middle sister was a ’90s kid, and my parents loved the classics. We had an eclectic vinyl collection to say the least, and as the years went on I got to add to it myself. That is the beauty of vinyl… it lasts. I have records now that were passed down to my parents, who passed them down to me, and it will go on forever.