loving all these stories. it occurred to me that i dont have any "proper digging stories", despite having scored a lot of cool stuff over the last 10+ years via local friends/contacts who do house clean outs and such. Ive seen some pretty incredible attics and basements in houses they invited me to help dig out, but 97% of that isnt record related - though thats where some of the best of my stuff came from - records and otherwise. Ive never gone on a proper digging road trip even though ive traveled worldwide - mostly because i wasnt on my own clock. Mostly ive just hit as many stores as i could find wherever i happened to be, learning by experimenting like most others. How i got started is sort of a story.
my collection went from zero to 60 in the early 90s because my buddies dad let us clean out his basement. the 5-6000 records (LPs mostly) there were actually originally owned my buddies dads friend, who had been a lawyer for several upstate NY radio stations in the 70s. i never met that guy but he loved music and got free promo copies of everything for years and years till he switched jobs in the mid 80s. around that point he apparently asked my friends dad to store the stuff for him, and as it turned out, he never came back for it. since me and my friend were like 14 in the 80s we had been going down there, playing records and pawing through the stuff (all unsorted and randomly stacked) in wonder and awe. it was a nice counterpoint to our then-raging punk rock and hardcore record buying/listening habits. By the early 90s, i was out of college, and it turned out that my friends dads second wife did not like the "clutter in the basement" (despite the house being huge), and thus my buddy and i were encouraged to "clean it up". No problem! After about 6-7 dangerously full loads in a Ford Bronco, it was all in *my* basement.
the material included a lot of white label promos and test pressings and duplicates. but on he downside it wasnt very strong in the soul dept, and it was iffy in the smaller label dept. But it was fierce in the classic rock from late 60s to early 80s department, plus tons of comedy and spoken word, childrens, soundtracks etc. it had a smattering of major label soul and jazz 60s-70s, with a few killer earlier pieces in every genre (50s/60s) that i assume was the dudes personal collection prior to his job that got him all the free stuff.
my buddy moved around a lot and eventually settled out west, and basically over a few years i shipped him 500-1000 of the doubles and he said cool we're straight. i still hook him up with a yearly xmas box of whatever new extra stuff i accumulate that i think hed like.
i do remember one very odd record store experience. in 98 i was visiting this same friend and we drove down from portland OR to norcal where, somewhere in the wilderness mountains east of Sacramento, he had a step-grandmother who was rich and had just remarried this dude who was a jazz musician guy. the guy was sort of a stoned gold digger but still a funny dude and she indulged him by building him a recording studio up there in the woods, attached to the house. So me and my buddy went there with the plan of making some demos in a real studio for free. As that turned out, the guy was a real flake and didnt know how to use his studio at all - but he loved to jam out on his trumpet at all hours. But we figured the mixing board out and plus he had a great hammond c-3 organ ("not a b-3, a c-3. the 'c' is for church" he said. ([he was an ex addict who had found jesus and was active in local choirs etc - AND loved to get high haha]) with the giant rotating leslie speaker box - it worked great and figured heavily in the demos we made of course.
the house was on a dirt road, only 3 houses from the edge of "the grid" - the people who lived up that way had self sufficient houses unconnected to the power, water, phone grids. hardcore. but the only records anywhere up there as far as i could see were the ones the flakey jazz step-step grandfather guy had - and they were nice 50s and 60s OG stuff on Bethlehem, impulse, blue note, prestige etc. we ended up going home with a nice little stack of those, for free, just because the dude was like that - "you like those? take em".
But down in the town (i think Diamond Springs?, which was like 45 minutes downhill on twisty roads) we stumbled across a record store one day, and in we went. today it would be picked clean im sure but in 98 it felt like a goldmine. not that it had stuff that was that great really (i think), but it was all cheap (1-5$) and i found a ton of soul and weird ethnic stuff id never seen. i remember spending $78 and my stack was at least a foot high. The place smelled a little funny, like rubber cement. at first we didnt think much of it.... (see below..)
The store had 2 staffers, a random assistant dude who looked burnt out and confused, and this really fat guy in denim overalls and coke bottle thick huge glasses apparently permanently seated at a table. i think the fat guy ran the joint because he rang us up (no register of course, he just looked and came up with a total and pocketed the $). but its what the fat guy was doing that ill never forget. he had a HUGE bottle of rubber cement with the lid that has the attached brush. And with this he was slowly, methodically soaking a whole piece of paper with the cement, up and down, up and down.... He was FOCUSED - bent over his work, his nose like 3 inches away. then he'd take another piece of (blank!) paper and attach it to the first one. then, hed start all over again! that guy had to be so high on rubber cement fumes im surprised he didnt pass out. he spoke verrry slowly, his voice was like Wilford Brimleys ("die-beetis") but he didnt say much. we didnt ask him what was up with the gluing process, it was too weird. and as soon as we cashed out he was riveted, face hovering over the table top again, brushing the rubber cement on, slowly, layer after layer...