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Name: Michael Viner
Comment: I'll always remember that time I went into Bonapartes in Bromley in 1977 or 1978 and there were a couple of young punks by the counter pogoing to Wire's 12XU which was blasting out of the shop's record player.

Record shops that were staffed or run by younger, 'hipper' types would let young fans hang around for hours,usually on a Saturday, listening to the latest releases - another example was Counterpoint Records in London Road, Forest Hill, run by a young man named Andy Ross, who would many years later go on to success as head of Food Records and producer of Blur. Then, in the late 1970s, he was a member of local New Wave band The Disco Zombies as well as Counterpoint's owner.

My punk-loving friends John S. and the late Gordon D. would spend all Saturday just hanging around in Counterpoint.

What about the poor old Teddy Boys of the mid- to late 1970s who've been disgracefully air-brushed out of social history by the middle-class ex-Punks (many Punks were, contrary to popular belief, here in London anyway) who run the media and the literary world? Well, I only remember Teds hanging out at two shops in this part of South London: Collectors Records at 219 Stanstead Road, Forest Hill, which later moved round the corner to Brockley Rise and changed its name to Hot Wax, and Rockin' Records in Maple Road, Penge. Both were secondhand record shops, appropriately enough, although Collectors Records did sell some new records.

Rockin' Records was part of my musical education - I bought my first Little Richard LP from there, bought my first 50s R&B and Doo-Wop compilation LPs from there. Neither of these two shops had custom bags for their records, although Collectors Records/Hot Wax had a shop stamp on their 45rpm sleeves (I have some). Counterpoint did have their own bags I remember, but I didn't keep any and have never found one at a boot sale etc. I did find an LP a couple of years ago with a Counterpoint price sticker. For all teenage music fans at that time record shops were important places - a big, big part of our lives.

They had a branch in New York which is so far a first for small independent record shops as far as I am aware for the 20th century.
(29 May 2014)

Name: Snowy
Comment: There was a Bonaparte in Guildford Surrey too!

Name: Phil Jessop
Comment: Great place to go for all your punk records, I remember walking in for the first time and the walls were covered in punk picture sleeves but they were not for sale, I wonder what happen to then when they closed?
(13 January 2014)

Name: Roger Nelson
Comment: Took over managing here from Dave. The owners were the Melhuish brothers. Great shop. Never did much business but influenced a lot of people.
(11 April 2012)

Name: Ian Stuart
Comment: A wonderful shop. As I commuted through East Croydon as a schoolboy I was able to pop in there for ten minutes on my way home. I remember it being quite small and crowded and noisy. It was a real community shop - lots of gig adverts, musicians wanted notices, music/underground/head papers etc. Lots of bands playing at the Greyhound in Croydon would pop in - I remember the Rich Kids with Glen Matlock and Midge Ure dropping in for a signing - it was packed - but I got my autographs on their first single!

Name: Ben Darnton
Comment: Bonapartes records in Guildford's Phoenix Court situated behind the side entrance to Woolworths which had a strong indie, punk influence. It was owned by David Bajence who I believe was the Stranglers manager at the time. Upstairs in there was some rather tatty secondhand vinyl but the only thing of interest I found in there was a battered copy of the soundtrack to Here We Go Around The Mulberry Bush by the Spencer Davis group and Traffic.

Name: Pairubu
Comment: Bonaparte Records, Guildford. When punk hit they went from Psych-hippy stuff to having the best selection of imported punk singles anywhere. I can still visualise all those fab exotic-looking sleeves.

Name: Mark Bune
Comment: I worked in the camera shop next door (Raids). Fantastic memories of the Vapors, Stranglers, Pursey, Gary Numan all popping in all the time. Can still remember the whiff of Patchouli drifting through. A hub of early English punk.
(16 December 2014)

Name: Alan Bryant
Comment: I was a regular visitor to this store. Didn't they have a book in there at one time, asking which track should be released by Siouxsie as their first single? I'm pretty sure that the bulk of the entries were for Hong Kong Garden and this must have been around the same time that they'd appeared at the Croydon Greyhound.
(2021)

Name: Mags Matthews
Comment: My brother Dom worked at Bonapartes in Bromley and Croydon and I was a regular visitor to both. I bought my first punk single at the Bromley branch (Gary Gilmore's Eyes by The Adverts) and picked up several signed records by The Damned thanks to Dom also working in the Croydon branch. Anyone here remember my brother?
(2021)

Name: Richard Phillips
Comment: I remember Dom from when I used to go to Bonaparte in Bromley the mid-1980s. He always wore a black beret. I would take a stack of records to try and sell to him, he would take a long time sorting them into two piles and then say he didn't want any of them. He did the same thing on quite a few occasions. Nice bloke though.
(2021)

Name: Dan from Guildford
Comment: When did Bonapartes in Guildford shut? I remember looking through the great selection of singles there from 1978. Also remember as I had a Billy Idol hairdo that punks hanging around outside would want you to help at Punk vs Ted faceoffs at organised times and places in town, mostly avoided these but there were as many Teds as punks around in those days.
(13 August 2014)

Name: Snowy
Comment: Stumbled across this... it was a real community of music lovers, and the meeting place in Guildford. It was a vinyl heaven! I remember Paul well... I went to my first Springsteen Concert with Paul & others! This was at the time of the post-punk & new wave greats.
(29 May 2014)

Name: Paul
Comment: I managed the Bromley and Guildford shops... 1976-78 in Bromley was madness and great fun... ran the export/mail order in Croydon before managing Guildford during the post-punk time of The Vapors and The Jam in 1979-81... too many great memories to mention... a very special time.
(1 September 2013)

Name: Kevin from Addiscombe.
Comment: Loved this shop... next door was the smallest sandwich shop in Croydon. I too would go to the Greyhound club and see bands that went on to bigger things. Fox records would sell records there.
(15 February 2013)

(Jan 18, 2013) Sweet Hooligan said:Boneaparte in Guildford was definitely in Phoenix Court, next to the Danish Coffee shop (or maybe one down). The parade of shops is still there. It was a treasure trove of punk - I used to visit about once a month in 77 and 78 (train from Fleet to Woking then back to Guildford!) and brought a lot of my punk singles in there - Spiral Scratch, Wanna be Free The Rings, London Girls Vibrators, Lurkers Free Admission, Neat Neat Neat, Eddie & Hot Rods Live at Marquee, Where's Bill Grundy Now, Dresden Style, It's the New Thing and Rowche Rumble... all came from Boneapart (and loads more...). Punk was all about singles and Boneapart was the best source in my area.

(Dec 27, 2012) tam said:I was told by friends that the shop was in phoenix court, so maybe I have the wrong name. Any help would be great

(Dec 27, 2012) tam said:hey guys, does anyone remember a store called "head sounds" in guildford (70s) ? I might have the shop name wrong, but all I know was the guy who ran the place I think was called David Evans. This guy might have just worked there I not sure, but still wanna find him. He could be my father.

(Dec 18, 2012) Ray Diagram said:Mark Norman got hold of that Elvis display thing with the moving arm and we shot it up with an air rifle in his back yard - we missed a few times and managed to nearly hit a Window Cleaner working in some flats opposite - Paul Havoc - I was at your Wedding - and you were briefly thinking about singing in a band I was in - let me know whats been going on since 1979! raydiagram77@hotmail.com

(Oct 2, 2012) Paul Mathias (Havoc!) said:I worked at Bonaparte's Croydon from 1977 until 1979, I was offered the job as they wanted my punk knowledge in the store and mail order department (based in the dingy, damp basement!) It was certainly one of the best places for punks to hang out and get the latest independent releases. Kirsty MacColl also helped out in the mail order dept around the time of her debut single on Stiff. Bonaparte also briefly had its own label, re-releasing the Kilburns'(Ian Dury) Rough Kids as the first single. The Damned, Johnny Moped and Slimy Toad all hung out there regularly Anyone remember the giant Elvis Costello mounted on the outside wall? Great memories, especially of Bob the manager and fellow drink buddy after work at the Railway Tavern over the road.

(Aug 2, 2012) Brian Nevill said:Bonaparte had a record label too. First issue was of Kilburn & The Highroads, second issue was The Dyaks: Gutter Kids (BONE 1 & BONE 2 respectively). Owner of the shops & label was Steve Melhuish. Eventually the business moved to Kings Cross. From there Melhuish started the Human label, including a single by the Slits.

( Jan 23, 2016) The Croydon shop was a great place - I remember buying Focus - Moving Waves and Focus III there in 1973 after seeing them at the Fairfield Halls around the corner. Those would be amongst the first records I bought. Also bought Uriah Heep's Firefly there, and remember the assistant telling me to get 'Look at Yourself' instead. Later realized he was right! They always had a good display of albums in the window, I still remember seeing Nils Lofgren's Authorised Bootleg, a rarity, but I couldn't afford it at the time! Comment David A.

20 January 2014
Stephen Garratt: Bonaparte Records first made an appearance in Purley in the Godstone Road, next door to that jewellery shop, near the Jolly Farmers pub in late 1976, early 1977. That branch was run by my old Woodcote Secondary school chum Chris Batchelor who used to give even more discount on my LPs! That branch closed and moved to East Croydon in late 1977 where Chris was shop manager. Also in Purley was Francois Record and Camera shop and another one in the late 60s which was where Mann's Estate agent now is or near it.

Comment
As far as I concerned PUNK started at Bonaparte Records Market square, BROMLEY in the 70s, ask billy idol and siouxsie su they were there!
Name
paul ashley

Comment
I was browsing in Bonaparte’s by East Croydon c. 1977 (punk!) when Gallagher & Lyle walked in to do a signing promo.
I immediately walked out in disgust Leaving the shop empty of customers.
Name
Stewart Smith-Langridge
(2017)

Comment
I remember Francois Records it was at the back of Purley Cameras Managed by Peter Free and owned by Alex Falk later Mr Cad (in West Croydon) I Managed there from 73 -76 happy days!!
Name
Wendy Carter
(2020)

Comment
Archiving my records on Discogs and noticed that on my white version of Bela Lugosi's dead
I've written with pencil that I'd bought it 6.3.'81 at
Bonaparte in London. Must be Croydon then.
It had cost £1.99 so I guess it's a bit more valuable now
(it's the first pressing), pity the cover's a bit tacky, a little moist damaged at the bottom.
Name
b-grrrlie
(2021)

Toyah Willcox and her band stop by Guildford's Bonaparte Records shop


Comments

Jane guest
26 Nov 2023 at 07:36
I worked at Bonaparte Records 1977-79ish - knew nothing about music ! But remember all the comments made above - really happy thriving shop of music - such a shame it didn’t last longer - umpteen signings promotions concerts all before the well known got well known 😃 I was in the office boring paperwork and accounts 🤣 Loved Croydon in those days
Neil Mackintosh
12 Mar 2024 at 09:28
Loved the Guildford shop. I remember buying Cool for Cats in pink vinyl there.

Details

Locations

George Street Croydon / Surrey
Phoenix Court GU1 3EG Guildford / Surrey
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