I was born in West Philadelphia on
January 8, 1944 (Elvis turned 9) and
lived in the Stonehurst section of
Upper Darby, PA. Before we had TV, I
listened to the radio every night. I
especially liked Gene Autry and the
Lone Ranger radio shows---and as a
result---my very first records were
by them. I next got into "novelty"
records---like Stan Freeberg's "St.
George and the Dragonet" and Buchanan
and Goodman's "Flying Saucer". I'm
not sure if "Green Door" by Jim Lowe
or Elvis' "Don't Be Cruel" was my first "pop" record
purchase---but it was "Don't Be Cruel" that really got
to me. I played that record for hours at a time and
drove my parents crazy! For Christmas in 1956, all I
wanted was records. I got "Singing the Blues" by Guy
Mitchell and "Just Walking in the Rain" by Johnny Ray,
"Blueberry Hill" by Fats and "I Feel Good" by Shirley
and Lee. I heard these songs on WIBG----the "pop"
station I listened to. For my birthday two weeks after
Christmas, I got a transistor radio---and was I in
heaven! I took it everywhere.....put it under my pillow
at night and even took it to school by hollowing out a
big book. Once I got that radio, that was it for my
other hobbies...no more collecting comic books, stamps,
coins, and (bubblegum) cards.
To support record buying, I got a daily paper route
delivering the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin from 1957
to 1961. I loved it---and hated to give it up!
I quickly became a regular at all the record shops (and
appliance stores) that sold records in my area. One
such place was Majestic Records in Clifton
Heights. Besides selling records retail, they were in
the vending business. I probably bought more records
there than anywhere else since they were located so
close to my house... by now we had moved to Drexel
Hill. I remember riding my bike in the pouring rain to
buy "Silhouettes" by The Rays after hearing it for the
first time on the radio. I shared that story with Hal
Miller (lead singer of the Rays) a few years ago when I
met him at a party.
Whenever I bought a record by an artist that I liked, I
looked for anything else they made. Majestic was a good
place to search because they had thousands of used
records that came off juke boxes at 5 for a
dollar. Fortunately, juke Boxes don't kill (destroy)
records the way people do.
By the end of 1959, I had over a thousand records. In
late 1959 or early 1960, I bought a Webcor tape
recorder figuring I would tape records off the radio
and save money. It took me a little over a year to
realize it was cheaper to buy the records. But, during
that time I discovered R&B radio stations and heard
records that in most cases never made it to the "pop"
stations...artists like Herb Johnson, The Cruisers,
Bobby Marchan, Etta James, Baby Washington, Jackie and
The Starlites, and Maxine Brown.
Finally, high school was about to end
(thank you, Lord), and my mother
insisted I attend college or a least
a business school. Since bookkeeping
was the only subject in which I did
well, I enrolled at Pierce Business
School in Center City Philadelphia
and majored in accounting. Unlike
high school, I loved Pierce.
At the same time, I was listening to black radio
stations and started buying Alan Freed and other
standard oldies LPs. Some of the students at Pierce
also liked records---especially Bob Bintliff---who was
in a Philadelphia area vocal group called The
Lytations. He told me about Jerry Blavat's
radio show on WCAM in Camden, NJ. It was
only a 1000 watt station---and it didn't
come in especially clear where I lived. BUT
became obsessed with the old group records--
-which he played heavily. Most of them were from New