Following on from the Graham Warr thread, I figured that this is the time to start collating some of those UNBELIEVABLE U.S. Northern finds. Or unbelievable disappointments too.
From experience, it's quite often the unexpected ones which turn out to be killers!
So here's an example from me, just to kick things off....
In 1988 I was stuck in a pretty boring job in between my more exciting jobs when I got a phone call from my ex boss who used to own the Warehouse in Leeds. He'd recently moved out to Denver, Colorado and was thinking about opening a club out there, so he invited me over for 10 days and offered to send the plane tickets!
Which was perfect! Anything to get out of the MCPS in Streatham which was slowly killing me.....
Also, at the back of my mind, I figured that Denver is in the middle of nowhere so the chances of any Northern collectors actually CHOOSING to go to Denver or even Colorado was remote - they'd have to go roughly 1000 miles from anywhere else to the middle of cowboy country to look for Northern. Unlikely.....
So I got there, got settled in at my bosses pad and then began a week of trawling every store in Denver whilst looking at potential club premises.
A complete bust.
I couldn't believe it. Quite often there'd be promising situations, i.e., plenty of the right labels from the right era and cheap. But somehow there were never the right artists or smaller labels and WAAAY too much Country & Western for my liking.....
It got to day 9 - the day before I was due to fly back and there was one store about 15 miles out of Denver which I hadn't tried yet. The only problem was that my ex-boss was busy that day and wouldn't be able to run me over there. I'd have to get there via about three buses which would be a pain in the ass.
Anyway, I set off. It took me almost 2 hours to get there but when I got there my heart started pounding! The shop looked FANTASTIC with 100ft long racks of 45's from floor to ceiling. So I got digging....
And nothing! Tons of the right labels, lots of the right artists but NO NORTHERN!!
The shop owner even let me in the back room to go through the unsorted stuff so I got covered in cobwebs, rat shit and dust going through hundred-count boxes of Luther Ingram, Staple Singers and Bar-Kays records but still NO NORTHERN!
After a couple of hours and covered in shit from head-to-toe, I called it a day and headed back to the bus stop for the trek back. And dammit, I just missed a bus and the next one was in an hour. So I had an hour to kill in the middle of Buttfuck, Denver with no records!
So I went into a burger bar and got a burger and coffee and went to sit at the window booth. As I was chomping my burger I was casually looking out of the window looking across a parking lot and, beyond that a dual carriageway, when in the distance, at the other side of the dual carriageway, I saw a sign which said "1940 Jukebox Co".
I wasn't that excited but I had a bit more time to kill and I like those early Wurlitzer jukeboxes anyway, so I thought I'd have a wander over there and have a look. Nothing better to do.....
So I crossed the dual carriageway and walked up to a huge building which had a shop front with a couple of Wurlitzer jukeboxes in the window. I looked at 'em for a while and then casually wandered into the shop.
As I went through the door into the shop, I noticed an alcove on the right-hand side which was roped-off but which was full of racks of records in what looked to be strict alphabetical order.
I still wasn't that excited - I thought they'd all be ex-jukebox records, 'oldies but goodies' or the dreaded Ferlin Husky or Merle Haggard stuff which Denver was filled with.
There was a long-haired bearded native Indian bloke at the counter, so I wandered up and said "Wow. Love these jukeboxes man. What do you play on 'em"?
He said: "I've got over a million records in there (pointing at the alcove), so we ain't gonna run out anytime soon son".
I said: "Wow. A million ay? Are they for sale"?
He said: "Yep. As a matter of fact it's your lucky day son. I'm having a sale, so anything you want is 25 cents each."
And with that, he walked around the counter, down to the alcove, unhooked the rope to the entrance and ushered me in.
I took a deep breath. This actually looked promising. The alphabetizing of his stock was incredible with the 'A' section starting off with A, AA, AB, ABE, etc, etc. Far too intricate for just ex-juke-box titles. But it could still all be Country and Western though so I still wasn't getting too excited....
So, I thought what record have I never managed to find in all my previous trips to the U.S.? One I really like preferably.....? And it had always bugged me that I'd never managed to find a Stanley Mitchell "Get It Baby" one of my favourite records of all time.
So I went to the 'M' section, scrolled along - M..., MA..., ME..., MI...., MIT..., MITCH.........
And found 2 mint white promo copies of "Get It Baby" on Dynamo!
That was when my heart started pounding!
Everything was in there! All the major label stuff, lots of tiny indie labels, tons of New York, L.A., Detroit and Chicago goodies.
I ended up staying there until 12.00pm that night. The owner even locked me up in the shop so he could get some dinner. I bought 2,800 records for $700 and made close to £30,000 and massively increased my Northern collection at the time. It was easily the best hit I've ever had in my entire life. The 'Holy Grail' in fact.
But only around 10-11 hours to cover a million records? I had to go back to the UK the next day, so the only thing I could do was target things I could remember and adopt a kind of 'scattergun' approach which is absolutely the worst way to clear a warehouse.
And to this day, I wake up in a cold sweat every so often, dreaming of what I left behind at the 1940 Jukebox Company.
A few months after my visit, Dave Raistrick found the place and had a hell of a hit himself. But he couldn't understand why a lot of the obvious titles weren't there until he asked the guy whether anyone else from England had been there and the guy said. "Well there was this tall, dark-haired guy here a couple of months ago...........".
I caught up with Dave a year or two later at a record fair and he said "Denver, Colorado. Was that you"?
And I said "Yep"!
Got loads more but I thought I'd kick off with a monster. I know Tim, Johnny, Ady, Kev and most U.S. crate-diggers have their own great tales, so let's hear 'em. It doesn't have to be a successful story. I've had some monumental disappointments too. But it's always good to share the tales LOL.....