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James Asman’s shop near Leicester Square – New Row? Garrick Street? Can’t remember, but it was central to my teenage years, more so, for me, than Dobells and Colletts. Asman was a whiskered snob, two hundred pounds of pernickety petty puerile prejudices: he had a country column in the Record Mirror and despised anything ‘commercial’. I remember him telling me, as I was buying a Johnny Cash London EP, circa ’59, that I ‘really ought to absorb some Starday material…’ I left the shop with a single called Alabam by Cowboy Copas, one of perhaps a couple of hundred who bought it. It made me feel good though in all honesty the Cash EP beat the hell out of it.But it was in Asman’s that I discovered Snooks Eaglin; in Asmans where I first saw The Folk Lore of John Lee Hooker; and in Asman’s where Lightnin’ Hopkins sat adjacent to Hank Williams. I think Asman smoked a pipe; or maybe memories have played tricks over the years since I always thought of his little shop as a haze of blue." Pete Fowler Sound of the world forum

Interview Mod Culture
James Asmans Record shop in a basement just off Bishopsgate [ they had London-Atlantic ‘deletions‘ at 60 pence and £1 each there]. Steve Barrow

Another that comes to mind was James Asman's in New Row, off St. Martins Lane. It was there from the early 60s until late 80s. Essentially it was run very much along the lines of Dave Carey's Swing Shop in Mitcham Lane and had the same charming air of disorganisation. Asman was very eclectic in his stock and in the 40s was a champion of Calypso which he wrote about, not very well by today's standards and knowledge, for the magazine Keynote. Comment: Alan Balfour

I remember James Asmans shop in New Row off St,Martins Lane.My first puchase was an EP of Cy Laurie in 1956 price 4s6d i continued buying records till they closed down,in early 90s.Happy Days. Comment: Dave Allen

As an old friend of Jim Asman I rather take offence at the description of him as "whiskered snob full of peurile pernicky prejudices". It is true that he was sometimes not the easiest person to deal with but his friendship was warm and all-encompassing. He certainly was whiskered and larger than life. His love of the music -particularly New Orleans jazz remained a burning passion all his life and if you became a friend of his through jazz he was a wonderful, kind and hosptable man.
I worked in the New Row shop for 15 years when it was run by Jim's neice Mo Vernon. I was the Saturday boy and Jim was my companion in the shop on those days.The shop was later taken over by Mole Jazz who wanted a a more Central London foothold. I lasted until the closure in 1997. It was a small lock up shop specilaising mainly in jazz, particularly tradional and mainstream and a mixture of good singers such as Sinatra, Ella etc plus ome humour and show music. Mainly vinyl when I worked there with CDs later. Comment: Robin Aitken

I agree most heartily with Robin Aitkins description of Jim. I bought most of my record collection from him. I used to visit the shop every Saturday with my wife June. Maybe Robin remembers us, I hope so. Comment: Tony Brown

Bob Hall James Asman's. Picked up my 45rpm copy of The Fish by Sonny Thompson there in the early 60's.

(August 9, 2015) I occasionally went to the shop in New Row when I worked in Old Compton St in 1964, but Dobell's and Collets old shop were nearer. Before that though, I used to buy records from his shop at 38 Camomile St off Bishopsgate in 1962-3.
The shop was in a basement, and it was a bit like going into a tunnel, with racks each side. Maybe the walls were slightly curved too, very tunnel-like....Steve Barrow

( Dec 23, 2015) I remember the shop in St martins lane very firendly staff and James had so much knowledge on George Lewis. Comment: Brian Viner.

George Melly was an overnight stayed at Jame Asmans and his wife Dot in Plumstead early 1950's.

Dave Ruffy is a teller of vivid stories; recreating dialogue in the present tense, mimicking voices and inflections, and frequently ending the reported conversation with a question to give extra resonance. He admits to digressing a lot, “just to give you extra background”. The background begins with a head spinning journey back to a time when record retailers thrived and vinyl junkies weren’t constantly answering the two inseparable questions, ‘can you still get records/record players?’

Name Keith Dawson Comment: James was my uncle, my aunt Dot was my Grandma's sister, I remember his many visits to Barnsley in his Jowett Javelin, just came across this site....brings a lot of memories back to me. ( Jan 25, 2017)

Name Roger Strong Comment: Just bought 17 Ken Colyer records in a remote town in New Zealand and two had James Asman stickers on them. I am from New Zealand but seem to recall on my first visit to London in 1993 I went into the Ashman shop- a hole in the wall type affair and bought a couple of LPs. I was reluctant to buy much because of the problem of transporting them all the way back home. Going to be in London in mid June this year-sad to say I can't seem to find any shop selling jazz....
James Asman’s shop near Leicester Square – New Row? Garrick Street? Can’t remember, but it was central to my teenage years, more so, for me, than Dobells and Colletts. Asman was a whiskered snob, two hundred pounds of pernickety petty puerile prejudices: he had a country column in the Record Mirror and despised anything ‘commercial’. I remember him telling me, as I was buying a Johnny Cash London EP, circa ’59, that I ‘really ought to absorb some Starday material…’ I left the shop with a single called Alabam by Cowboy Copas, one of perhaps a couple of hundred who bought it. It made me feel good though in all honesty the Cash EP beat the hell out of it.But it was in Asman’s that I discovered Snooks Eaglin; in Asmans where I first saw The Folk Lore of John Lee Hooker; and in Asman’s where Lightnin’ Hopkins sat adjacent to Hank Williams. I think Asman smoked a pipe; or maybe memories have played tricks over the years since I always thought of his little shop as a haze of blue." Pete Fowler Sound of the world forum

Interview Mod Culture
James Asmans Record shop in a basement just off Bishopsgate [ they had London-Atlantic ‘deletions‘ at 60 pence and £1 each there]. Steve Barrow

Another that comes to mind was James Asman's in New Row, off St. Martins Lane. It was there from the early 60s until late 80s. Essentially it was run very much along the lines of Dave Carey's Swing Shop in Mitcham Lane and had the same charming air of disorganisation. Asman was very eclectic in his stock and in the 40s was a champion of Calypso which he wrote about, not very well by today's standards and knowledge, for the magazine Keynote. Comment: Alan Balfour

I remember James Asmans shop in New Row off St,Martins Lane.My first puchase was an EP of Cy Laurie in 1956 price 4s6d i continued buying records till they closed down,in early 90s.Happy Days. Comment: Dave Allen

As an old friend of Jim Asman I rather take offence at the description of him as "whiskered snob full of peurile pernicky prejudices". It is true that he was sometimes not the easiest person to deal with but his friendship was warm and all-encompassing. He certainly was whiskered and larger than life. His love of the music -particularly New Orleans jazz remained a burning passion all his life and if you became a friend of his through jazz he was a wonderful, kind and hosptable man.
I worked in the New Row shop for 15 years when it was run by Jim's neice Mo Vernon. I was the Saturday boy and Jim was my companion in the shop on those days.The shop was later taken over by Mole Jazz who wanted a a more Central London foothold. I lasted until the closure in 1997. It was a small lock up shop specilaising mainly in jazz, particularly tradional and mainstream and a mixture of good singers such as Sinatra, Ella etc plus ome humour and show music. Mainly vinyl when I worked there with CDs later. Comment: Robin Aitken

I agree most heartily with Robin Aitkins description of Jim. I bought most of my record collection from him. I used to visit the shop every Saturday with my wife June. Maybe Robin remembers us, I hope so. Comment: Tony Brown

Bob Hall James Asman's. Picked up my 45rpm copy of The Fish by Sonny Thompson there in the early 60's.

(August 9, 2015) I occasionally went to the shop in New Row when I worked in Old Compton St in 1964, but Dobell's and Collets old shop were nearer. Before that though, I used to buy records from his shop at 38 Camomile St off Bishopsgate in 1962-3.
The shop was in a basement, and it was a bit like going into a tunnel, with racks each side. Maybe the walls were slightly curved too, very tunnel-like....Steve Barrow

( Dec 23, 2015) I remember the shop in St martins lane very firendly staff and James had so much knowledge on George Lewis. Comment: Brian Viner.

George Melly was an overnight stayed at Jame Asmans and his wife Dot in Plumstead early 1950's.

Dave Ruffy is a teller of vivid stories; recreating dialogue in the present tense, mimicking voices and inflections, and frequently ending the reported conversation with a question to give extra resonance. He admits to digressing a lot, “just to give you extra background”. The background begins with a head spinning journey back to a time when record retailers thrived and vinyl junkies weren’t constantly answering the two inseparable questions, ‘can you still get records/record players?’

Name Keith Dawson Comment: James was my uncle, my aunt Dot was my Grandma's sister, I remember his many visits to Barnsley in his Jowett Javelin, just came across this site....brings a lot of memories back to me. ( Jan 25, 2017)

Name Roger Strong Comment: Just bought 17 Ken Colyer records in a remote town in New Zealand and two had James Asman stickers on them. I am from New Zealand but seem to recall on my first visit to London in 1993 I went into the Ashman shop- a hole in the wall type affair and bought a couple of LPs. I was reluctant to buy much because of the problem of transporting them all the way back home. Going to be in London in mid June this year-sad to say I can't seem to find any shop selling jazz....

​DAVE RUFFY (Ruts) interviewed by SIMON McKAY

In the early ‘70s, Dave was living in the East End of London with his wife and young daughter. He was playing music but unable to make a living from it. Initially, his wages came from a factory job followed by a stint as a messenger in the City. Dave spent so much of his spare time frequenting record shops that he ended up working for a small chain, James Asman’s, which had stores in Camomile Street, Cannon Street and in New Row (off St Martins Lane). “James Asman was a jazz critic so we saw a lot of jazz and classical. Also the journalists used to bring in their review copies so we had a big second hand thing too. I got a job in the basement on Camomile Street selling the second hand stuff; rock, prog. Later there was jazz funk and fusion. Being in the City, everyone was monthly salaried and you’d get vinyl junkies who would spend half of their pay on records. It was before the corporate rock thing, so it was our music; if someone liked something you’d say, ‘Have you heard this?’ and you’d play them something else they might like. I moved to Cannon Street and ran the upstairs, selling the pop stuff. It was just albums until punk rock began then we starting doing singles. I remember the Ramones coming out, I thought, ‘Fuck, this is brilliant, it’s like cartoon, 50s/60s minimalism.’ We were very united with the customers but when punk came along it created a divide: ‘what are you doing with this?’ (Said in a whiny voice)”

Name Dennnis Keeble Comment: I to was an avid fan of James Asmans country coloumn in the record mirror and had a visit to his shop, I also bought my first Johnny Cash e.p. there (1960)? (June 1, 2017)
Name
Norman Webster

Comment
I visited James Asman's shop in Covent Garden in, I believe 1956. He was a well known figure, and I, as the only customer at that moment, felt honoured to speak to him. I asked him a question though deep-down I knew the answer, even as a 17 year old.

The Davy Crockett craze was in full swing, and the film title song had been recorded by so many. My favourite was Tennessee Ernie Ford, not because of the Crockett record, but for so many earlier hits.

My question to James Asman was "Which version of Davy Crockett is selling most ?" It was, I hoped, to make conversation.

His answer ;

"I don't care".

And that was it.

An almost chastised 17 year old, didn't ask any more, and I, quietly, went back to my office in the Admiralty. I didn't venture my real interest, jazz and the beautiful compositions of Gershwin, Kern, Rodgers, Berlin, Porter et al

I was too apprehensive.

But then I thought 'sod it', and almost forgot it.

Norman Webster

(2018)
Comment
I remember Asmans just of Bishopsgate Stockbrokers used to pay us a bonus quarterly and I wouls hotfoot it round to Asmans where Ernie has saved for me the latest Ellingtonia LP`s all of which I still have and still play
Name
Mick snellgrove
(2018)

Comment
I found James Asman in Who's Who in Great Britain and brought him to the attention of my husband, David Asman. who emigrated to the U.S. from England in 1982 to marry me, because I thought they might be related. On our first trip to England after that David went to visit Jim without telling me. When I asked for a report David said he looks like an older me. This I HAD to see! So we went together, and the resemblance was AMAZING. Not sure if they figured out how they were related, but I came away with a santon from Provence that had belonged to his wife and a very pleasant memory.
Name
Gail Zimmer
(2019)

Comment
I visited James Asman's shop on New Row during the late fifties. I was trying to find a ten inch LP by Terry Gilkyson which included "The song of the Wild Goose" and I also used to read his jazz articles, mostly on Trad Jazz. I did get the Gilkyson album though I can't remember if I found it in Asman's shop or elswhere
Name
David Callister
(2019)

Comment
Along with Dobell's James Asman's shop was a place of Saturday pilgrimage in the early '60's. Going to either of these shops you would meet many future luminaries of the "Rock" and Jazz world as the scene developed. All of us 'discovering' the wonderful music that influenced our lives.
I suffered a harsh lecture when I bought an LP of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five recordings as well a Jimmy Reed's 'Bright Lights Big City' on the same occasion. Jazz, especially historic Jazz was good and Chicago Blues was definitely inferior though tolerable. Also meeting many of the 'Yanks' from the Air Bases in the UK with their American imports was a feature of these two shops - Dobell's in particular. I first bought 'Kind Of Blue' there - a second hand copy from some American Forces Commissary.
From there to the Falmingo and the Marquee (then in Oxford Street) setting the tone for many a teenagers weekend. Great times as it was all new to us and an entrance to the world of great music without campartments.
Name
Fin Costello
(2019)

Comment
I remeber New Row very well in the late 60's . Though less for the music and more for Jims very lovely niece.
God Bless her she has left me with an abididmng love for jazz and she must have taken me to every jazz venue in London in that 12 month period.
The highlight though was sunday lunchtime sessions with George Melly and the Feetwarmers in a lovely pub just round the corner from Mount Pleasant sorting office .
Jim also was an avid criket fan and gloried in John Hampshires maiden test hundred at Lorrds in 1968 agaisnt a fearsome West Indies bowling attack.
A very great joy was dining with him and Dot at their flat in Bloomsbury. He was an accomplished Chef and alwys generous with food, wine and robust opionons . Being nearly a Yorkshirman left its mark
Name
William Gore
(2020)
Comment
I visited London in 1978 from the US and stopped at this this shop in search of some punk rock records. I still have a paper bag with their 2 locations and a map on it. Not sure which album I bought though
Name
James Barry
(2020)


Comments

Allan Castle
19 Feb 2024 at 01:12
I have an Ellington three-volume UK comp from 1963 which, the sticker on the cover says, was sold by James Asman’s Record Centre, 38 Camomile Street, London EC3.

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