Saturday, December 27, 2014

My life as a DJ and Record Collector (Part II)

At the end of part I, I had just returned home to Brooklyn at the end of summer vacation in Lorain, OH in 1975 with a shoe box of about 15-20 45RPM records. The story continues...

With the foundation laid for my record collecting with 7" singles, it was on me to expand on that. Saving whatever pennies to a dollar I came across, I would go to the nearest record store on Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn every Saturday and buy more 45's. It would range anywhere from one to two or three records dependent on how much money I could scrounge up throughout the week.

This wasn't the suburbs where a kid my age had a newspaper route, so coming across even a dollar wasn't easy. However, as I explained at the end of part one, I hustled and saved every which way I could even if that meant skipping lunch at school. The result was that my first make shift crate, the shoe box, was getting filled with records that I still have to this day such as 'Why can't we be friends' by War and 'Fallin' in Love' by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds.

There was one more 45 added during that time period, which would have a lasting impact on me. That is because the song 'Dreaming a Dream' by Brooklyn's own Crown Heights Affair would end up becoming to date, my favorite song of all-time. Here is the original 45 bought back in '75 and to this day, the hair on my arms raise up and a smile comes across my face whenever I play it.

Life was good; I was happy with my little record collection, but it was incomplete. That is because my mindset was I still wanted a stack of albums on a bookshelf like my older cousins. Being 12 going on 13 I was hitting puberty, so to me at the time that was the difference between being a kid and graduating to being accepted by adults.

However, at the time there was a big difference between paying less than a dollar for a 45 and paying above three dollars for a full album. The only ways to make that happen was to sacrifice buying 45's and take the plunge into buying one "Big Boy" record. The question was what record would that be? For me the answer was easy.

In 1975 there was one song that was reigning supreme on the radio, whether it was a pop or urban station; that song was 'Fly Robin Fly' by The Silver Convention. Thus, when it came time to make that move onto my first album, the result was 'Save Me' by The Silver Convention (pictured above). To say I played this album to death would be an understatement.

Besides the hit single, other songs like 'Heart of Stone', 'Son of a Gun' and the title track still resonate with me today. I finally did it, my first album; but as you hear drug addicts say all the time, it was like going from marijuana to cocaine. It was more addicting and more expensive.

However, I didn't stop. If I couldn't save up enough money to buy an album every Saturday, then I would save for two weeks and then buy one. I remember it like it was yesterday, my second album was 'Gratitude' by Earth, Wind & Fire and my third album was 'Showcase' by The Sylvers. Whenever my older cousins would come by to visit, I was proud to show off my little record collection. I finally felt like I was one of them and on my way.

One day while at home looking through the TV Guide, for those not old enough to understand it was a magazine with TV listings for the week, I saw something that was unbelievable. It was an ad from Columbia House Record Club where you could get 12 record albums for the price of one cent. My eyes lit up when I saw this. Talk about giving my record collection a serious boost; of course I jumped all over it. Little did I know I was supposed to buy six more records over the next three years at their outlandish club prices?

Suffice it to say I never satisfied that contractual agreement. Not that I was being criminal minded, but what 13 year old was going to be responsible enough to read the agreement, let alone stick with it. Ultimately, they forgot about me, probably finally realizing they were dealing with a kid. Besides, my concerns were bigger than that. All this time I was playing my records on my mom's old console stereo in the living room.

In December 1975 I turned 13 and was becoming a teenager, which meant I needed my own system. However, coming from humble beginnings that wasn't easy, let alone feasible. Yet, my mom did what she could and on my 13th birthday she bought me my very first turntable, which was a portable close and play style Emerson phonograph. I could not believe it when I found a picture of it on-line.

Headed into 1976 I was set. I had my own little stash of records with both 45's and albums, plus I had my own turntable I could keep in my room. As Nino Brown said in 'New Jack City', "The world was mine," as I had all I needed in life at the time. However, my world was about to change forever.

In Part III, I go from Brooklyn to Bethlehem, from turntable to stereo and from record collector to DJ. Thanks for reading

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