Sunday, March 27, 2016

Al Kooper's record collection circa 1990

I referenced this story in my first post in the warm teenage tangerine, and as promised, here's the back story to the pic I posted:

I was Googling the name of a record store I worked at in the late 80's in Hollywood while reaching for the brass ring back then, and found a Yelp tribute page to my old employer.

This was my contribution (long):

"I used to work at Aron's on Melrose in the late 80's. I was in a great local band called The Peckinpahs that almost signed to Geffen Records. Capitol was always at our gigs scouting us. The signings fell through. We were voted Top 10 Best New Bands in 1989's LA Weekly Best Of Reader's Poll issue. We were alternative before alternative was.

LOTS of networking pre-Google going on there. Two weeks after moving to Hollywood to join The Peckinpahs I was hired at Aron's. I quickly knew where the action was.

The gigs were already lined up and the records were at Aron's.

I used to go on record buys with owner Manny (usually to Malibu or Hollywood Hills), and all stripes of celebs bought and sold there. Al Kooper once sold us a ton of vinyl junk, dumping hundreds of his totally-beat records for a nice $1000 CD credit. We did it as a mercy buy, for a true music legend. The records were unplayably trashed from decades of his personal use.

Sherman Helmsley (George Jefferson on The Jeffersons TV comedy) always used to come in looking like he just smoked a huge bongload (or 5), and loved Gentle Giant and Genesis, that damn hippy. We used to ask him how Weezy was doing all the time.

Frank Zappa used to send his gofer in, knowing better than to face our sometimes sarcastic scrutiny. We were generally professional though, and never asked for autographs. Keith Morris used to shop the dollar rack every day. We used to regularly see Billy Mumy (Barnes and Barnes, Lost In Space), Pierce Brosnan, Belinda Carlisle, Andy Summers, David Byrne, and the like.

Notable rock writers, record company people and liner notes editors were common customers, as were well-known entertainment industry insiders and TV commercial actors of all ages and kinds.

Danny Sugerman (Doors publicist) was a regular as well. He sold me a personal copy of his autobiography, and I have his Doors business card. Rest in peace, my brother in music and literature. He LOVED Aron's as a vinyl collector and music lover.

Aron's then was a hundred times better than any record store I have ever worked at or been in, and I've been in and worked at a lot of record stores. They moved to Highland and the mojo was released like smoke from a vintage receiver. I helped moved them there, it was a shit-ton of backbreaking work for weeks. The building on Highland was a former meat packing plant with a dumbwaiter, thank God for small favors. Melrose was where the magic lived.

And it died there too.

Jesse Klempner and JC Courneya were my managers, and they were the best. They hired up-and-coming musicians because they knew that we were the most music-dedicated and the smartest. They knew this from years of experience doing it. They just couldn't pay.

Mike MacCready of Pearl Jam worked with me. His band at the time (Shadow) was pretty poor, and was largely relegated to shitty North Hollywood metal gigs. He left LA and became a millionaire and hugely famous within 2 years of moving. He couldn't afford LA rent in 1989, in 1991 he made an all-time-classic grunge rock album with Pearl Jam out of Seattle.

My profile pic was taken at Aron's. I'm the hippy in the middle with the Beatles T. Jeff Froyd is on my left (CD buyer) and on the right is Brian Talley (Jeff's assistant). They were my buds. We were truly amazed at how useless Al Kooper's collection was (those are his records we're scrutinizing). Didn't matter, we were just tripping that he even came in period.

I won't mention the name of the clerk who got kicked in the nuts by a shoplifter who was in a hurry to leave for some reason. I was charged to hold the crook, who we had in handcuffs, face-first in the floor of our office, while waiting for the cops to arrive.

It took a couple hours. They were on Sunset hanging out with a jumper and a crowd.

Despite nagging rumors, Paul Rock is still alive, and still loves power pop.

The other employees were all iconic each in their own way, and I'll carry these memories to my grave. I remember well.

Mike Yaffe
Lenzburg, IL

Anyone ever shop there? Share your stories.

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