Police in-store appearance, Newcastle Virgin Records 1979. I remember the security cameras looking like something from a science fiction film. Whether they were effective in the low light is another matter.
I remember how dark and mysterious the old Virgin shop was. I remember the fixtures - the down lighting and the white tills. I'd spend at least an hour in here every Saturday, probably making two visits during the course of the day:
There was a circuit of record shops, the music lovers' equivalent of a pub crawl. I don’t know if this was typical of the route other people took, but I’d generally start at Virgin at about 10am, then Windows, HMV, Callers and finishing the first leg at Listen Ear (which later became Volume). By then, the urgency would be gone – if I hadn't got the limited editions I was after that day (Virgin or Callers were the best for coloured vinyl and scarce picture sleeves), they’d have gone forever (or at least until somebody invented eBay). I could slow down: I might revisit one of the shops I'd already been to looking for the same buzz I'd felt a few hours ago and the shop would be much busier but that wasn’t the buzz I was looking for… I might have returned to a shop for a carefully considered purchase or to listen to something in one of the listening booths in the basement at Windows. If I hadn’t already blown all my paper round money on records by then, I might think about heading up to the Handyside Arcade and getting a poster from the Kard Bar.
Some Saturdays, I'd reverse the whole thing because I had to be standing outside the City Hall at 10:30am when it opened to buy a ticket for somebody important who was coming to town, maybe Penetration, the Slits or Devo. I remember that the bands that really filled the street and sold out within a few days were The Jam, Buzzcocks and Siouxsie & The Banshees. Some weeks the queue would be all heavy metalers and I'd wonder which of their bands was coming to town.
(Photo by Rik Walton)
The first time I sat in an aircraft seat in a record shop...just about the same time I was working in the Ridley place store in Newcastle...as we moved to Eldon Square. Fun times. Comment: Richard Blackham
(July 9, 2015) Virgin opened a Megastore in 1976 and that was where I spent most of my time, especially as I knew a girl who worked there who often let me buy stuff using her staff discount! Windows was a traditional old fashioned sort of place with a big selection, Callers which was mainly a furniture store used to specialise in soul a bit. Comment: Hugh Weldon