Since we’re celebrating record stores and all things vinyl, I thought I’d repost this, originally from
August April last year — posted again for record store day (late) and NZ Music month (1 day early).
I’ve had a couple of conversations of recent with people about record stores in Auckland — the lost sort — where was Record Warehouse? When did Taste close?
That sort of thing.
I guess its part of being some sort of aging vinyl buff, but the thought of all those places, many of which I spend endless hours in as a kid, or older, still gives me some sort of huge nostalgic buzz. I used to spend days trekking around the second hand stores and the junk joints, most long gone, looking for the hundreds of 45s that I still have in boxes in my storeroom.
There have been countless record shops in Auckland over the years, we New Zealanders consume vast qualities of music, but I’ve only listed ones here in central-ish Auckland (Newmarket, the CBD, K Rd and Ponsonby) and shops that have closed down. The stores that are still open can tell their own stories. And I’ve only mentioned the stores I actually personally remember, and, yes, despite my best efforts I’ve clearly made some mistakes (and missed a few stores).
These shops were often filed with passionate people, both in front of and behind the counter (and more than a few snotty know nothing kids who looked down on almost all their customers and helped kill the stores) but despite that record retailing is an extraordinarily risky business and more than a few of these stores, most in fact, including some big operators, went bust and disappeared from the streets of the city forever.
However many of the most colourful and creative people I’ve known over the years came out of record retail or supported their creative enterprises on the rarely good wages paid in record shops.
I worked in several of these shops over the years myself and have huge memories of scaring the fuck out of quiet Parnell with the New York Dolls, or the joy of turning someone who’d never bought jazz (and actually asked for Kenny G) onto Miles and then watching him grow into Coltrane, Bird, Gillespie and beyond over the next few years.
Now where is that copy of Neat, Neat, Neat I bought at Direction Records in 1977.…
Lost Record Stores In Auckland
One of the major players in central Auckland retail from about 1977 to 1987 when it went under. It was originally owned by Mike Dow and Guy Morris, and, later, Roger King amongst others and grew out of the collapse of the Direction chain. It’s major branch was in Durham Lane West, with the best 7” selection in Auckland, thanks to the wonderful Kerry O’Connor, and at other times had branches in other locations in the city, including The Corner (the old Peaches store) and in Lorne Street (which they called Rio for some odd reason).
Record Warehouse went the way of most record retailers and ceased trading after the stockmarket crash. It’s staff included Trevor Reekie, who worked there when he was playing his huge part in inventing the indie label in NZ. Roger King also managed Dave Dobbyn for many years, and later managed Don McGlashan. In the interim he spent time in Wellington working for the Alliance Party. Mike Dow was instrumental in bring FM radio to NZ, and later sold real estate in Omaha. He died in June, 2009. Guy Morris passed away on 3 Jan, 2011. He was one of the true pioneers and visionaries of the NZ music industry. Respect.
Sounds Unlimited began life in Newmarket in a small shop in Remuera Rd in the early 1970s, owned by Henry King. He opened a second store with his brother Jim running it in Panmure about the same time. He quickly expanded to 101 Queen Street, Papakura and into much bigger premises still in Remuera Rd. They also opened a second store in Broadway (see Broadway Records). In 1982 Henry sold the chain to Gary Nuttall (the Newmarket stores), Terry Anderson (Queen Street) and Jim Lum (Panmure). Nuttall and Anderson kept the names and traded as a unit for a brief time but fell out, with Anderson keeping the name and Nuttall rebranding as Tru Tone. King moved to Sydney where he opened Chelsea Records, passing away a few years back.
Sounds Unlimited eventually expanded across Auckland but went under in the early 1990s. Out of its collapse came the Sounds chain, which also went under a decade and half later, costing the record companies millions. It had, at other times, stores on the corner of the Strand Arcade and Queen Street, 256 Records (see below), and a store in K Rd, infamous for it’s big coke bust in the early 1990s. Robin Lambert, the group’s sales manager was perhaps the best salesman I’ve ever seen in a record store. His famous refusal to sell a customer the third Iron Maiden album, because he didn’t own the first two and would not understand it, was typical (the guy left the store with all three, very happy).
Under Henry King, Sounds Unlimited revolutionised music retail in NZ and paved the way for a new generation of aggressively fronted, with loss leading items, and discounting, record stores. For better or worse, it paved the way for the current dominance of The Warehouse, whose music retail, appropriately, is headed by Terry Anderson. Henry’s name survives with King Exports, an independent distributor. Sounds Unlimited’s buyer, Steve Morice, also managed Push Push, which can’t have hurt their chart returns.
Gary Nuttall, with his wife Allison, rebranded his stores as Tru Tone (with the exception of Broadway Records, which kept it’s name) after the fallout with Terry Anderson, and expanded into the malls and ‘burbs. Of note was the St. Lukes store, staffed by Phil Bell, Jason Howson, and Andrew, the drummer from Garageland. Under their management it became a centre for imported dance music, both house and hip-hop. Tru Tone went under in 1999, and many of the stores were taken over by either Sounds, with some irony, or ECM.
The first of the alternative stores of the post hippie era, dating from about 1971, and owned by Guy Morris, Direction was quite an empire for a while. It had stores in Darby St, Swanson St, Queens Arcade, and outside Auckland, and sold hip records in recycled brown paper bags. Direction ran a record label, which not only released local bands but licensed overseas labels like Casablanca, and they were also tied to Hot Licks, the alternative music
magazine edited by the late Roger Jarrett, which is the blueprint and granddaddy of all NZ music press since. The shelves were often full of imported pressings of hard to get underground records from the US, but, like all NZ indie chains, it inevitably went bust, in the late 1970s. From it arose The Record Warehouse.
Peaches was owned by industry veterans Brian Pitt and John McCready, and was essentially the retail arm of the RTC operation, which had NZ rights to Virgin Records and a few other labels. It operated from the mid 1970s in The Corner (formerly John Courts, and now Whitcoulls, Queen Street), and for me is remembered for all those well priced Virgin reggae imports, and, especially, as the place where I managed to pick up my EMI pressing of Anarchy In the UK. Record Warehouse took it over around 1980 and it closed shortly thereafter.
They also had a branch in the old Direction store in Queens Arcade.
Taste was, with Direction, the other post hippie retailer, moving into the punk era. Taste was owned by David Perkins and, for a while, Rhys Walker. Rhys had worked for Pye Records and David had worked, in the 60s whilst at university, at a store upstairs in Vulcan Lane, called The Loft. Taste opened first in Lorne Street in the shop under what is now The Lorne Street Lofts, and had a special listening booth with extraction fans to allow the listener to get him or herself in the right state of mind to listen to that new Yes album. It was extraordinarily hip and moved early 1975 into the Southern Cross building in High Street (leaving the booth behind sadly), where along with the rock, it imported jazz and underground music. I was there one day in 1975 waiting for that first Split Enz album to arrive, and I bought one of only two copies of the first Ramones album in NZ there in 1976 (Johnny Volume bought the other). In 1979 it took over Professor Longhair’s in Parnell (acquiring me in the process). I managed the shop briefly in 1980 and ran my first label out of it, but Dave Perkins had lost interest and shut it in September that year. He later ran Snake Screen-printing studios which dominated NZ music merchandising for years, and died in 2004. His funeral was like a who’s who of the NZ record industry of the last three decades. RIP Dave.
Professor Longhair’s was an offshoot of Richmond Records in Melbourne and owned by Nadine Huru, an Australian who had come to NZ with her husband in the mid 1970s and opened the store in small space just up from the Alexandra Hotel (now Iguacu). The shop was, from late 1977, the only shop which really stocked and played the punk and new wave sounds in Auckland, thus became one of the epicentres of that scene, which was helped by the fact that not only was it the only record store open on Saturdays in Auckland City, but was 150 meters up the road from The Windsor Castle, which was home to many of the Auckland punk bands on Saturday afternoons from late 1978 onwards. I ran it for Nadine from early 1978, with the legendary graphic artist Terry Hogan (the man who signed Toy Love to WEA, and did the AK79 sleeve) as my weekend staff. It was taken over by Taste Records in 1979 and I went as part of the package, before moving to Sydney for six months.
A second hand shop in the basement of The Corner in the late 1980s. They were, as I recall, briefly in the old Record Warehouse space in Lorne Street too for a while.
Jan, the owner, opened Rock’n’Roll Records in Symonds St, on the corner of City Rd, in the early 1970s, as the first dedicated second hand store in the city. It moved to Queen Street, just down from where Real Groovy is now, in the middle of that decade, where it’s staff included Simon Mark-Brown and Kerry Buchanan. It was a mecca for the vinyl obsessed (yes, guilty) and the shop’s rare records auctions were huge drawcards. I remember outbidding Graham Brazier on a Stooges album about 1979. I loved the huge boxes of 7″ EPs and 45s behind he counter. In 1983 I sold much of my record collection to Jan & Kerry before moving to London (their prices were never less than fair but damn, not a day goes by when I don’t regret selling what I sold). It moved to Fort Street, in a space next to the small Fort Lane, in the 1980s, and added Kirk Gee to the staff. Jan sold out to Real Groovy in the late 1980s and they closed the site, moving the staff up to the Queen Street store. Phat Wax took the site briefly and it’s a laundromat now.
Along with Rock’n’Roll Records, Record Exchange dominated the second had market for years. At one stage it took up much of the end of St Kevin’s Arcade in K Rd. Neville Lynch and Chris Hart opened it in 1976 and it soon became a second hand mecca with thousands of copies of everything imaginable and tons of rarities. Neville bought Chris out later in the decade (he then opened Real Groovy) and eventually bought in his son, Liam, and moved in the 1990s to K Rd itself, near the Queen Street intersection. There was another shop too, briefly, further along K Rd. The retail shop has gone now but Neville and Liam continue to trade successfully via TradeMe and Ebay and claim to have 200,000 records in their catalogue. I don’t doubt it…
Owned by Phil Clarke and UK DJ, Roy the Roach, Quaff initially took over Bassline’s shop before moving down the road to a space in O’Connell Street next to Zambesi. It lasted some 2 years from about 1994.
The Big Orange
This was not just a record shop but the best example of that long forgotten artefact, a head shop. It sold music, incense, clothes, posters, and accessories of all sorts (including bongs and the like). It was around from about 1970 for a year or two in the Canterbury Arcade.
A well regarded dance specialist in Symonds Street owned by Nick Collings, it traded for 8 years and specialised in hard dance and trance. It opened on April 14 1998 and ceased trading of December 2008. [Thanks for the update, Nick — see the comment below for some pretty cool links]
This shop began life in the late 1980s as a second hand shop in Victoria St, about where the Sky Tower is now, moving in the 1990s up to K Rd, before closing down later that decade. The stores, in which I spent many hours trawling, were owned by Colin Cleave.
At 256 Queen Street, this store was owned at various times by a couple of guys, Godfrey Woods and Kit Kingston, and also by Sounds Unlimited. I’ll always be grateful for the gross underpricing of the 18 volume Philadephia International boxed set, which I picked up for $50 one day. 256 was the first shop to import dance music as a speciality and amongst its staff were Grant Kearney and Sam Hill who went on to found Bassline Records (see below). It’s staff also included Kerry George and Mike Haru.
A Sounds Unlimited / Tru Tone owned shop in Broadway, Newmarket, that specialised in Classical and Jazz. I worked there for about three years part time to support my record label work, in the early 1980s. It was managed by Mel Moratti, a record industy legend who knew literally everything about classical music and the world’s classical releases, and is still employing that knowledge at Marbecks at the time of writing. It was the first shop in Auckland to have a CD player and stock CDs, when the local record companies were still rather nervous about this new tech.
On the first floor of the 246 Shopping Centre in Queen Street (where, incidentally, the mezzanine café had the best Iced Chocolate in the city). It was partially owned by Dennison Smith’s in Rotorua and was renown in the 1970s for having the best annual sales in the city. I’m unsure exactly when it opened but it closed some time in the early 1980s. Derek Fletcher, who ran it at the end, assisted by Joanne Middlemiss, later opened a health food shop on the site of the old Direction Records in Darby Street.
In about 1994 the HMV chain re-entered the NZ marketplace and rented the space on the corner of Vulcan Lane and Queen Street. They opened with a huge band, putting some $10,000 on the bar at Cause Celebre. However they closed about two years later and the space is now occupied by the National Bank.
The EMI Shop
EMI was owned, of course, by EMI Records, (originally trading as HMV) and at one time sold all sorts of things like Fridges and Washing Machines as well as vinyl and cassettes, dating back to the 1940s when they dominated the NZ music industry. In the 1960s and 1970s they had a large store in Queen Street about where Burger King is now, near Victoria Street. They carried a huge stock and later moved up to where 256 Records was. In the late 1970s EMI upgraded the stores and opened one in the Downtown Mall. This was staffed initially by Peter Hewitt (who was later manager of 256), and then by Chris Caddick, who was later to become MD of EMI NZ, and Adam Holt, who is now MD of Universal NZ. EMI closed these in the late 1980s and a Sounds store was in the Downtown site for a while. EMI briefly re-entered the retail world with HMV in the 1990s.
Owned by Sam Hill and Grant Kearney, both ex-256, Bassline was Auckland’s first dedicated dance and DJ store, and was DJ central for some years. Situated in what is now the Karen Walker shop in O’Connell Street, it was famous for Grant killing the records being played regularly so he could listen to the horse races through the PA. And the mad rush as the imports arrived. It opened in 1989 and closed about 1993 when Quaff took over the site. Grant Marshall provided the staff and the shop was often filled with friendly record company staff on Fridays filling out the chart return to pad NZ’s eternally and completely inaccurate charts.
In K Rd, had, for years, a record bar just inside the door, with a smallish selection, but great sales bins. Closed well before the store closed in the 1980s.
In Queen Street, next to Whitcombs and Tombs (now Whitcoulls) near Durham Lane East, Lewis Eady had a multi-floor store with sheet music, instruments and a massive but almost impenetrable record selection, which nobody in the staff seemed to know or care about. Although it had been there forever, and in Queen Street selling music since 1918, it closed in 1980 and moved to the ‘burbs, where it remains now, albeit without the records. They also pressed vinyl and had their own label at one stage in the distant past.
Heath Burgoyne ran Cyberculture and sold alternative and electronic music from K Rd for most of the 1990s. The shop was a heaven for the eclectic and the leftfield.
One of the seemingly endless number of retail offshoots of Lewis Eady, Arthur operated until the late 1960s at 112 Queen Street, on the lower side of Vulcan Lane, selling instruments, sheet music and records.
Crucial was owned by Miles Kuen and Matt Drake, upstairs in Canterbury Arcade from the late 1990s until about 2003, selling a huge range of techno and house vinyl and CDs.
In K Rd, near the Newton Post Office, from the mid 1990s, Gary Steel’s Beautiful Music offered his personal selection of interesting, the eclectic and the plain desirable. Amongst his clients, famously, was the late John Peel.
Tony Young, an Australian DJ, opened a record store in a house in Jervois Rd, moving it to the old Rock’n’Roll Records space in Fort Street when Real Groovy bought them out. He later moved to a space in Victoria Street East just up from Lorne St. The shop had a range of Italian house to begin with, which rather confused NZers, as the style had never really crossed the Tasman, but later expanded to cover other styles, although it never really worked.
The Lamphouse was an appliance, and lighting store, with a mezzanine floor that stocked records. It was a great place to pick up long deleted obscurities that had sat in the racks for years. Closed in the 1980s after being in the same spot for several decades, on the corner of K Rd and Queen St.
Bond & Bond
I have vague memories of a Bond & Bond with a fairly healthy vinyl department in the Dilworth Building in Customs Street in the 1960s
Where Whitcoulls is now, John Court once had their department store with a smallish record department. Closed in the early 1970s.
Another department store that had a record department, just inside the door and to the right as I recall. They shut the record dept in the 1980s.
Farmers Trading Company
And another. The record dept in the Hobson Street store was at one stage quite large but mostly full buckets of Zodiac and Viking Peter Posa or Pacific albums with half naked girls on the cover. I guess that was their market.
Milne & Choice
And another. They had records for sale in both Queen Street and Remuera Rd, until they closed Queen Street in the 1970s, and Remuera a few years later. I remember buying David Bowie’s Pin Ups there in 1974 (and, yes, I still have it).
Second Hand shops Q St
For years there was a row of bric-a-brac stores on the eastern side of Queen Street, about where Mayoral Drive cuts through now, full of ever changing boxes full of dusty vinyl, with loads of 7” singles and sixties soul and pop.
Sounds, the last of the mega chains, with it’s roots in the Sounds Unlimited chain, had, amongst it’s dozens of stores in NZ, the huge one in the old Whitcoulls shop on the corner of Queen and Durham, one in the old 256 store (now a games shop), one in the Rialto mall in Newmarket and one in the old EMI shop in Downtown. Probably lots more but they were largely faceless…
Record store in Little High Street
There was for a year or two in the 1990s a record store in the mall called Little High Street, a shop packed full of imported US cut out and new release hip-hop and r’n’b vinyl. It didn’t last but was a goldmine, but perhaps better suited to South Auckland. The name escapes me.
The Vulcan Lane stores (updated!)
The names of both of these escape me too, although they were quite different. The first was upstairs between the two pubs, and I think was simply just called Upstairs Records, and closed about 1970. It’s staff member, Dave Perkins, later opened Taste Records. The second was owned by RCA / Pye at one time (it was tied into the RCA Record Club) and managed by Lorraine Tennant (later of Peaches). It was downstairs in part of the space now occupied by the CD Store, next to the city branch of the Pancake Parlour (the chocolate and banana pancakes were delicious..this becoming a theme I think). Update: It was Music City..thanks to Jock Lawrie who bought his first album there (Beatles Hard Days Night in ’74…not a bad way to start…).
Update: Nige Horrocks says the one upstairs in Vulcan was Gordon’s, and that rings a bell, but the one I meant, Chris Bourke rightly recalls as The Loft. And Nige reminded me about another one:
The national chain had a store in Queen Street, between Durham Lane East and The Canterbury Arcade, although I’m unsure when it stopped selling vinyl
Woolworths & McKenzies
There was a McKenzies, which was kinda like a NZ owned K‑Mart, in Queen Street, which ran between what is now the ANZ Bank and Vulcan Lane, it sold vinyl near the Vulcan Lane door. I used to like the grand portrait of the founder, Sir Something McKenzie, on the staircase. Woolworths, before they became just a supermarket, bought them up around 1980, and closed the Vulcan / Queen Store shortly afterwards. The Woolworths store near Queens Arcade continued for a decade and a half, rebranded as DEKA, and it too sold music but very mainstream
Current retail outfits old locations…
Real Groovy was intially at the top of Richmond Rd, then the top of Mt Eden Rd and then on the corner of Queen Street and City Road before it moved to where it is now. Conch was in the Canterbury Arcade for several years before it moved to Ponsonby.
In the Lagonda Arcade in the 1990s, had it’s own record label
Another K Rd store, in the Lagonda Arcade, specialising in dance, in the first years of the 2000s. It was later Lopass Records and is now Uptown, specialising in dubstep and grime.
An Australian dance store that opened in Durham Lane East in the late 1990s. Like Phat Wax it missed the mark because NZers really had a more developed musical taste than the cheese that sold so well in Australia. It moved briefly to the top end of Vulcan Lane before closing.
Another on K Rd, which started in St.Kevins Arcade in the early 1990s, then moved down to O’Connell Street in the mid 1990s to share with Quaff, before heading back up to K Rd where it shared a space with Virus Clothing. They stocked alternative and industrial and still can be found via the Club Bizarre website, run by owner Mark Wallbank.
yes I’ll get to that…
And an update…a word from the legendary Terry Hogan :
Hi Simon .. nice work. There was another Eady store (was it Sydney Eady?) on the corner of Queen and, I think, Swanson, where I got a brand new copy of Love’s “Forever Changes” for a dollar from a bargain bin one day in the late 60s. True, a buck was still worth something then, but still..! And I bought it on the cover alone but sometimes that works out fine.
Your mention of the second-hand places up the top end of Queen Street calls to mind a real treasure trove that used to sit just below City Rd where I picked up a lot of US stuff that I still have, Stooges, MC5, and a personal fave, the Sir Douglas Quintet’s “Mendocino”. Can’t remember the shop’s name but the LPs were $2 and $3 (I never figured out how that distinction was made) and the guy was friendly and I dips me lid to him.
And yep, fond memories of working Prof Longhairs .. but go easy on the “legendary”.