Monday just before noon I park my bike at 8709 Santa Monica Blvd. directly in front of the Music Revolution, the record store where I’d just been hired. Standing there in the bright light of midday, I close my eyes and tilt my face up toward the sun. Just taking a moment.
A few seconds later owner Les Carter and his wife Susan drive up. Parking next to my motorcycle, they greet me and unlock the front door of the store. We enter and Les turns and hands me the key. I will be opening most days. He shows me around the store while telling me what I must know about selling the records, restocking the bins, keeping track of inventory, answering the phone, and where to put the cash. After an hour or so Les gives me his home phone number and they leave. He tells me he will check in with me in a few hours and that I should call if I have any questions.
The job is pretty simple and just requires common sense. My hours are: I open at noon, and I stay till 8:00 pm at which point I am relieved, and the store stays open till 11:00 pm, midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Les calls around 3:00 pm to check on me. The pace is leisurely, and mostly I am there for answering questions and ringing up the sales. The Music Revolution’s clientele are Hollywood people. We get the occasional rock star or television actor. The hip community is inclined to support the store. It is an enjoyable gig, listening to the latest music and answering questions. If one thinks about it, a record store is a peaceful place.
The average cost of an album is $3.99. That is not a discount price, but it is fair. Big chains have promotions and discounts, but we are too small and ”boutique-y” for that. This is a couple of years before Tower Records opened. Tower was at 8801 Sunset Blvd. on the corner of Sunset and Horn Avenue in West Hollywood. They were about a half a mile away from us and opened in 1971.
Next door there is a women’s sportswear shop, and my soon to be good friend Gayle Galli works there. The owners were a nice married couple and they designed women’s sportswear in the back of their store.
Gayle owned a copper-colored Porsche 356 convertible, one of the coolest-looking cars ever made. She would drive me all over Hollywood. It felt so elegant riding in that car. There was a sexual tension between Gayle and me, but nothing ever happened and maybe that is why we are still friends today.
November 22nd, 1968, The Beatles (aka the White Album) is released. The phone is ringing off the hook. Rock star Lee Michaels stops by, and we still don’t have it in stock, but are expecting it any moment. Lee asks if he can wait in the store for it. Sure, I say, and he sits down on an empty record carton next to one of the record bins. He is smiling and happy as all get out. People are streaming in, but we cannot let them wait inside, there just is no room. Lee Michaels is an exception of course.
Finally, Les pulls up and his car is stuffed with cartons of the White Album. Ted, another employee, and I, unload the cartons, taking them inside and putting them in the back room of the store. I unpack the boxes and Ted is doing the sales. There is a line down the block running eastward, almost to the Tropicana Motel (the infamous 1960s rock star hangout). In an hour or so we sell out. We have so much cash we hide it in the back room. Les tells us that every record store is experiencing the same crush; it is bedlam out there. Les heads back to the distributor but they are so busy and their wholesale buyers’ line is so long that Les cannot get his order filled till later that night. Next morning, we open early at 11:00 am and the store is swamped just like the day before. Finally in the evening things start slowing down.
That was some rush, and the Music Revolution was never that busy again. It was an incredible couple of days for record stores everywhere.
Les had an idea that maybe we could offer free delivery if an order was for more than four LPs. His thinking was, I could make good time on the motorcycle and it could increase sales. That is how I met my late friend Barry Byrens, one of the first people to show me around in Hollywood. He and Gayle were the only two people that I met that were actually born in Beverly Hills/Hollywood. Barry bought five albums to be delivered to his sister for her birthday.
A day later I ran into him in the parking lot of Ben Franks, that is a hangout for hundreds of Hollywood freaks at night. Barry and I became friends and he called me the Music Revolution’s two-headed motorcycle delivery boy. This did not last too long, as he came to prefer calling me Linc, because my hair resembled the character on the TV show The Mod Squad. There were a few more deliveries but that service did not really catch on. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a delivery to Doug Weston.
Weston was the founder of the Troubadour, the renowned folk and rock nightclub at 9081 Santa Monica Boulevard, a tad east of Doheny Drive on the boarder of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. He ordered six LPs one weekday afternoon. When I arrived at his house, he ushered me into his living room. He told me to sit. I said, “I am on delivery, and I really cannot stay.” He angrily told me he wanted to check out the LPs and I had to wait. He opened one, held it up to eye level and said it was warped. Now understand this, all albums are warped to some degree. At the time, approximately ten percent of them are warped so badly they were unplayable. They could be readily exchanged at the place of purchase; this was common knowledge and a universal custom. Even artists’ recording contracts paid a royalty on 90 percent of sales, assuming there would be a 10 percent return rate.
Doug took about 20 or 30 minutes to inspect and play each album. He played each and every one of them while ranting and raving at me. I sat there quietly. I was not afraid or defensive, though I did not understand his actions. I knew he was just giving me a bad time, but why, I do not know. I did not waste time trying to explain anything. My thinking was that any attempt or effort to calm him or explain would worsen his tirade.
He insisted I return with the replacements within the hour. I left, and driving back to the Music Revolution, I went over what had happened and it just didn’t add up. Besides, I was sure Les and Doug knew or at least knew of each other. Maybe he had a problem with Les? According to Doug, five of the records were warped and he was being ripped off. I don’t know probably, perhaps you could call my next realization street smarts, but I was pretty certain based on Mr. Weston’s actions that I was not gonna get a tip.
I went back to the Music Revolution, replaced the albums and drove my motorcycle back to Doug Weston’s house. He angrily ushered me in and proceeded to go through the whole process again, yelling at me and accusingly suggesting that he was being ripped off. I said I had to get back, and he angrily demanded for me to sit there and wait though his lengthy inspections. Finally, he says it is not right; he will keep the albums, but I should understand he felt he was getting crappy merchandise. When I finally got back to the store over two hours had passed, and this was a losing transaction for the Music Revolution.
A few hours later Les stopped in and I told him what happened. He listened and asked just a few questions. When I finished, he didn’t say anything, though I did get the impression that he understood and did not blame me. I never found out what caused Doug Weston’s abusive freak out. My guess was that he had an issue with Les, but even that theory has holes in it. This incident is going to remain one of those mysteries. Les never offered any thoughts on it .
The Music Revolution’s delivery service did not make financial sense. Even the shortest delivery took a while to complete, and it didn’t add up. I did not mind it though. It got me out and around while making me more familiar with Hollywood. I met a new lady friend, Stephanie, during a delivery.
One day the phone rang, and a gal was asking if we stocked some LPs that she wanted. We did, and she said she would stop by in an hour. It turned out that it was Peggy Lipton of The Mod Squad, and she was charming and appreciative. I told Barry that she came by the store, and he said, “oh! You met your co-star!”
Barry had moved temporally into an apartment on San Vincente, and they had another vacancy. It was a one bedroom furnished apartment just two blocks from my apartment on Larrabee. I checked it out and it was nicer and certainly quieter than the apartment I was living in, and it was $85 a month. I gave notice to my landlord, and this nice and pleasant lady turned into a mean old witch right in front of my eyes. I was surprised at her sudden change of behavior but possibly it was because that apartment was difficult for her to keep occupied.
I meet this gal, Jeannie Franklyn, who was a designer who dressed many of the rock stars of the day. Kinda like the Hollywood version of London’s Granny Takes a Trip. Her shop is called Genie the Tailor. It was a retail space at 9091 Santa Monica Blvd, just east of the Troubadour. Her designs were amazing. They were one of a kind, very hip and expensive, styles for the Hollywood elite – movie stars and rock stars, the young and the monied.
It was fun to hang out with her at the tailor shop. Jeannie was easy to be around and it was interesting to see her clientele come in for fittings and to watch her create this amazing clothing. The shop wasn’t open to the public even though it was in a retail space. We were becoming friendly, when she mentioned to me that she was going on a two-week vacation. A couple of weeks later I stopped by her shop. It was half-empty and in the process of being emptied out.
“What happened?” I asked one of the workers. He said Jeannie had been killed in a car crash. Stunned, I turned away. Later I found out that she was riding with the band Fairport Convention (and was guitarist/songwriter Richard Thompson’s girlfriend). They were returning from a gig, and they were in a horrible car crash that also took the life of their drummer, Martin Lamble. The accident happened on a British motorway on May 12, 1969 when a roadie for the band fell asleep at the wheel. The suddenness and violence of Jeannie’s death just shocked the hell out of me.
One more installment of this tale to come…
Header image: the Miracle Mile, Hollywood, California, 1960s.