In Birkenhead, Skeleton Records was opened in 1971 by John Weaver. It had a great collection of live bootleg albums, deletions, imports and new rock, punk and ska releases. It is now on Oxton Road, but music fans still talk fondly about its old Grange Road premises.
“Most Wirral music obsessives can remember their first time in Skeleton, in the heart of Birkenhead,” says customer Jon Kennaugh.
“With its dusty, bare floorboards, patchouli aroma, super-cool staff and walls plastered in picture discs and coloured vinyl, it was a place of pilgrimage for many a pasty-faced teenager, myself included.
“The floor creaked with row after row of densely- packed wooden racks of vinyl, all manner of test pressings, 1970s acetates and assorted rarities, and – on the floor – my cash-strapped favourites, the boxes of second hand long-players for £1 each.
“From those very boxes came my early education in the back catalogues of New Order, Japan, Chic, Kraftwerk, Pixies, Marc Bolan and too many others to mention. Skeleton is still there, in different premises these days, but still a vinyl goldmine and well worth a visit for the more discerning music fan.”
Fellow customer Danny Friel adds: “As a 14-year-old, I got the train to Birkenhead and spent my paper round money on tapes. The old man behind the counter was so helpful. I remember he had a rare Guns ’n’ Roses vinyl that he never let me touch in case I damaged it but he always let me look at it.”
My record shop of choice was Skeleton, the 'head' shop that did second hand stuff, bootlegs (sorry, 'imports') and smelt strongly of patchouli. Skeleton Records was opened in August 1971 by John Weaver as a record/head shop dealing in secondhand records, posters, books, underground press, incense and costume jewellery etc. The name was taken from a line in the Syd Barret sond "If it's in you" - " Skeleton kissed a steel rail" For a period up to late 1975 the store became well known for selling live bootleg albums, after which John began creating the shop into what it still is to this day. The store began stocking new product, deletions, imports and new rock releases, becoming a haven for the 70's local heavy rock brigade. Around late 1975 John started a mail order deletion finding service which has since been imitated by hundreads of other record dealers and still flourishes to this day via the Internet. Skeleton embraced the arrival of punk and had by 1977 become Wirral's premier record shop, stocking not only heavy rock/ punk/ new wave, but also selling all genres of popular music from jazz, blues, r&b, reggae, rock & roll to nostalgia, easy listening and country. John formed the Skeleton Records label in 1978 releasing records by Attempted Moustache, Afraid Of Mice, Wayne Hussey, Windows, The Relations, Geisha Girls plus many others and later formed the Half Man Half Biscuit/ Pengwan label releasing singles by Instant Agony and This Final Frame. Both of the Instant Agony singles reached the top ten of the indie charts. Read more
Great article, just a few memories of mine.The first shop was inbeween a tobacconist and the George and dragon,it had a cafe up stairs,I remember robbing sausages from Beatties when I was on the run from approved school and selling them to the hippiesy mates from borstal robbed it and with the insurance money it moved to a bigger shop at 46 argyle Street.My brother Mike and his mates Paul and Simon(halfman halfbiscuit)and me formed a band attempted moustached.John helped us with gigs and paid for making a couple of records.We supported Pigbag in London,John organised a coach,and we had to pick the equipment from Queensbury Gardens (one of the most deprived areas on Merseyside)the Vietnamese boat people who lived next door thought we were mad.Jphn has been and still is (my nephew buys his death metal CDs there)a great ambassador for culture in Birkenhead, along with John Reid (Strife) who put some great nights of music at stairways (I seen iron maiden there on a Monday night for 50p)We are a lot poorer without people like John with his enthusiasm and knowledge for music,so fuck off HMV and all the other corporate phonies.Make and keep music local.John Weaver for Mayor, I'd vote for that.