Jazzwise June 2017
Paul 'Sailor' Vernon in is book 'Last Swill & Testament' spent many an hour browsing here.
This shop in Exeter Parade, next to Kilburn Station, was run by Ray ‘Professor’ Foxley, a New Orleans style pianist who played with Ken Colyer and Chris Barber. Born in Birmingham in 1928, Ray learned straight piano when he was aged 14. Two years later he discovered boogie woogie, and he developed his style by listening to Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton records.
Exeter Parade, site of Foxley’s 2012
Paul Vernon, a rare record dealer and blues expert, who had lived in Cricklewood and Maygrove Road, wrote about Foxley’s. He said that in the 1950s it was very hard to get R&B records. Ray Foxley responding to numerous requests, privately pressed 25 copies of an Amos Milburn record that he happened to have.
It sold out in one morning. Realising the potential, he contacted a friend who worked on the passenger ships sailing from Southampton and arranged to have him buy a regular selection of new R&B records in New York. These would then be copied and pressed on metal acetate singles, which Foxley sold across the counter. News quickly spread and Saturdays at Foxley’s became famous. An affable man, Foxley presided over what became, to all intents and purposes, a regular scheduled party. People came from all over Londonand as far afield as Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester. Friends would meet, talk, listen and buy – the session finished only when the last record had been sold – it served as a meeting place for musicians and fans at a time when there was little else to be had.
The shop was there from 1955 to 1968. Dan Shackell remembers the perforated fiber board walls of the listening booths in Foxley’s where he bought his first 78, Gene Vincent’s ‘Lotta Lovin’ in 1957. You can hear it on:
Les Smith says he bought ‘Jailhouse Rock’ on the day it was released in 1957, from a record shop which opened for a short period on the Kilburn High Road between Netherwood Street and Palmerston Road.
A recent conversation with Mel Wright, a ‘Kilburn Older Voices Exchange’ worker and blues drummer with bands such as Shakey Vic, brought back memories that we had both gone to Foxley’s Record shop near Kilburn Station.
I remember Foxleys in Kilburn, I remember if its the same shop it west to be a second hand record shop where you could exchange records.