(June 10, 2013) Tony May said:I remember Fine Records as one of those long, thin, rather old fashioned shops. Situated in Hove, I was not a frequent customer to the shop but do remember buying some sale Lp's in there a few times. One of the downfalls of the shop was that its owners were in the habit of putting the record sleeves out in the racks without the inclusion of stiff cardboard inside them and so a lot of the covers got tatty very quickly. I know nothing of the origins of the shop and probably last visited it in the late 80's/ early 90's ( I remember I bought a sale copy of 'Wild & Free' by The Dazz Band so it must have been open a few years after that record came out). My impression then was that the shop had been around a long time but had not moved with the times. I recall they had a large selection of Cassettes even then.
Who remembers Fine Records? This chain of 3 shops was started by a man named Ralph who drove a silver Rolls Royce - surely not brought from the proceeds of selling records! - then shifted to Austin, Texas. Seemingly Fine began as a classical shop but, by the late 1970s, was stocking punk 45s (and much else). Thanks to Dan Thompson for image & info'. (2018).
It has been said that Fine Records in Brighton opened on the day ‘Sgt Peppers’ was released in 1967, when The Lanes area wasn’t even properly open, and that over 500 people trod over the planks over unset concrete to buy it! Sounds like ‘folklore’ and it has been stated that Fine Records in Brighton might have previously been known as Brighton Records. But what is certain is that the Brighton branch became the famous Rounder Records. The Hove branch used to specialise in jazz and classical music. In around 1984 Julian Pelling purchased Fine Records and Ian Wallace joined the firm in 1986. In 1994 it was stated that the two men ran the business together with Ian’s girlfriend Silvanna Galen. One part of their trade was devoted to vinyl records as there was an international market for them. (Update: Barry Parks 13.04.20 – “Fine Records: unlikely that it had a previous name. I bought Magical Mystery Tour in there about the end of 1967 when it was Fine Records. Run by Ralph, who looked like Hank Marvin. He was more interested in classical music”).
I worked as the manager at Fine Records, Brighton Square from 1979 until Ralph Barrett sold the shop in’82 Alongside my trusty assistants Roger Dimmock and Terry ? Ralph owned 3 shops: one in George Street, Hove (managed by Michael Hayes who bought it from Ralph B. which I think is still there} and one in Worthing.
Roger was friendly with the boys at Vinyl Demand and through them I did a couple of Record Fairs in Croydon and Wandsworth. Happy Days!
Incidentally Ralph Barrett went to live in the US after selling all 3 shops. By chance I bumped in to him around 20 years ago in Tesco, Eastbourne after he was back visiting relatives!