By 1976, I was busily chasing European music, trying to “fill in” my collection with Can LP’s etc. I was particularly fond of French music, notably Lard Free. We were also trying to figure out who to get to be in our band (our first LP was released in 1978).
Summer of 1976 brought my first record store job – Bellflower, CA. I was regularly going to record collector swap meets and as many record stores as I could find! I had yet to develop my theory of “There are records anywhere there are lots of people” – in 1976, it was “go wherever there are colleges, and there will be record stores”, which was true back then. That theory worked for some California locations, such as Berkeley, CA, Orange, CA – there were so many record stores in California!
Truth is, once I started working full-time, I could only go to record stores when I wasn’t working. I was always in search of “imported” LP’s, which were not absolutely everywhere.
After a few years of working in a record store, it became obvious that I needed to go to Europe, in search of further European music. So, in the fall of 1979, with some advice from record collector friends, I went to London, England without a hotel reservation.
Very intoxicating for a 21 year old record collector to go to the U.K. for the first time! Who could be bothered with reservations? The first place I went to didn’t have anyplace for me, but – they kindly directed me to somewhere that did have a reasonable place to stay, Goldhawk Road area. I knew absolutely nothing about the size / scope of London. I only knew Los Angeles and San Francisco!
I easily figured out the tube / trains; I picked up my mail at the American Express office in the Haymarket! I didn’t care much for the food / drink in London. I got to France easily, and the food improved!
Arriving in Paris, I looked up as many musician’s names as I could in the phone book, mostly leaving messages; some had to be called a few times. I did successfully reach a few people: Gilles Yepremian and Roland Bocquet! Gilles Y managed Lard Free / Urban Sax – Lard Free had been my favorite band for several years. Roland Bocquet had been in the band Catharsis and I loved his recent album, “Paradia”.
When I went to Germany, I looked up Holger Czukay of Can – in the phone book. He picked me up at the Koln train station in his Volkswagen!
Sweden and Finland were a bit more problematic, as I couldn’t find any names I knew in the telephone books I could find. What do they even call record stores in Sweden? How do I look it up?
I caught the boat to Helsinki in Stockholm, and stayed at a glorious hotel that I spotted, “Hotel Helsinki” in that fall of 1979.
Venice, Italy! I had an intro to Aldo Tagliapietra of Le Orme and he directed me to a tiny place in Mestre, just outside of Venice. He was super nice to me and spoke perfect English. He put me onto Ronnie Thorpe, in Milan.