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he Record Room, St. Albans.
It began in one room of a terraced house on London Road, St Albans.
Such was Mark's boundless energy, enthusiasm, razor sharp wit and charm with customers and reps alike, not forgetting his encyclopaedic knowledge of all musical genres, that he quickly moved to his own multi-storey shop. He also rocked a good suit, as you can see in this photo. Mac McCleod who taught his finger-picking guitar technique to Donovan who taught it to Dylan (see DA Pennebaker's film on BBC iplayer of Dylan's 1965 tour), the Stones & Beatles, is in the hairy Afghan (see right).

A former record shop owner who strove to meet the musical needs of generations of St Albans teenagers has died at the age of 86. Mark Greene, owner of the once famous Mark Greene’s Record Room, passed away last month after a short illness. He began selling records in 1957 from the front room of a house in Victoria Street, a venue that, as the only plausible record shop in the area, found itself at the centre of the burgeoning local music scene. Mr Greene, however, had always to be careful not to play his treasured records too loudly, in case the elderly occupants of neighbouring rooms began banging on the walls in protest.

In the early 1960s, flushed with success, Mr Greene moved the business to much larger premises in Chequer Street, taking over a three storey unit formerly occupied by the chemists Shields and Warren. Friend and musician Mac MacLeod, who used to manage the shop, remembered a “really lovely and hardworking man” who had a lasting impact on the town.
He said: “Mark knew his music well and would bend over backwards to get you what you wanted; rooting through catalogues, cross checking and spending far more time than it warranted. He did love his chosen patth “I still have the coveted vinyl albums by such legends as Big Bill Broonzy, Snooks Eaglin and Lightning Hopkins amongst others.”
Some of the biggest stars of the day, including The Zombies and Donovan, are said to have considered the shop to be the only record store outside of London worth visiting. In a 1973 interview with industry magazine Music Week, Mr Greene described himself as “the oldest swinger in town.” He later worked as manager of the band Hurdy Gurdy, in which Mr MacLeod played the bass. A planned assault on the UK charts, however, was derailed by the then all powerful Musicians’ Union, who objected to the inclusion of two Danish band members and made live performances impossible.

Mr MacLeod added: “Along with his brothers Sonny and Sol who ran Cherry’s, his sister Betty who had Betty’s in Victoria Street and Joe, the brother-in-law known to all the young dudes of St Albans as the proprietor of Jefferson’s, the family were responsible for a substantial part of the retail trade in St Albans, when shopping was a much more personal affair.

“Never happier than when he was working, even up to the very end, and always of a cheery disposition with a quick wisecrack, it was always such a pleasure to be in his company. He was a really lovely man who, even though I hadn’t seen so much of him in recent years, I shall miss terribly.”



Thanks to Clink 60 T's City for sending the link for Mark Greene.

Rod Argent brought his first record here Tommy Steels 'Signing The Blues' on 78. A young Rod also took advice to what ot listen to.


The memories of Mark and The Record Room have come flooding back. How sad he has passed away. Most of my record collection was bought there. Instead of being blasted with loud music in the shop you could use a sound booth to choose before you bought. So very civilised! It really was the place to go for records, singles EP’s and LP’s. Mark was a lovely man and oh so knowledgeable; my grandmother loved her classical music and Mark always helped her find what she wanted.
I didn’t know Mark's sister ran Betty’s, again my grandmother worked there. My granny was quite a gal in a less ageist society! Comment: Vanessa.


One of my most embarrassing memories was having to ask the young lady assistant for ‘Lets do it’ by The Pink Fairies. Good record though! I also remember listening to ‘A whole lot of love’ by Led Zeppelin at full blast in quadraphonic sound in a record booth – fantastic – probably why I am going slightly deaf now! Comment James. Very sad news. In the late 50's I would cycle from the station to the Record Room after work and although officially closed Mark would open the shop and advise me on recordings made by the obscure people credited as song writers or mentioned on liner notes on recordings by Elvis Presley, Lonnie Donegan etc. The result was that he aquired(mainly imported) the most prized vinyl records in my collection. Thanks Mark. R.I.P.


(August 8, 2015) I visited Mark at his shop many times in 1970 when I was a sales rep working for EMI. I would take him often to lunch in St Albans and he introduced me to a small restaurant down Holywell Hill who among their menu of English dishes offered the first ever Tandoori Chicken I had seen - long before Indian Restaurants started to offer it on sale. Mark made good fun out of the fact that he was Jewish yet in a local cafe his regular lunchtime order was a bacon sandwich.

He always gave me a good "order" for all the new releases and I could count on him to enhance my sales figures. So sad to hear he passed on. I also lost touch with the very knowledgeable colleague at The Record Room who ran the Classical Counter in Mark's shop Bob King who moved to Sussex and started his own Record Shop at Washington or Angmering. Bob built Mark's classical section to really lively sales levels. Fond memories of Mark and those 70s days. Laurie Prior

The Record Room, St. Albans.
It began in one room of a terraced house on London Road, St Albans.
Such was Mark's boundless energy, enthusiasm, razor sharp wit and charm with customers and reps alike, not forgetting his encyclopaedic knowledge of all musical genres, that he quickly moved to his own multi-storey shop. He also rocked a good suit, as you can see in this photo. Mac McCleod who taught his finger-picking guitar technique to Donovan who taught it to Dylan (see DA Pennebaker's film on BBC iplayer of Dylan's 1965 tour), the Stones & Beatles, is in the hairy Afghan (see right).

https://www.stalbansreview.co.uk/news/8768324.st-albans-record-shop-owner-mark-greene-mourned/

Ruth (2021)


Comments

Ian Shepherd
23 Aug 2023 at 07:09
Seeing photos of Mark brings a lot of memories back.

In the late 70s, Mark was a regular customer at Lightning Records on the Harrow Road. He was such a nice, friendly and cheerful guy.

I seem to recall, hopefully correctly, that he would regularly purchase copies of "Easy Loving" by Bo Kirkland and Ruth Davies. Also, I think, "The Pearl Fishers' Duet" by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill.

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