Five famous record collections and a look at their doomed (and almost doomed) fate
When Michigan record store owner Jeff Bubeck acquired several thousand records from an abandoned storage unit in Clinton Township, he didn't realize he might've taken possession of a piece of hip-hop history. Bubeck started sifting through the collection and found several items addressed to James Yancey (better known as legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla), which led him to believe he'd scored something more than just a great haul of wax. News spread quickly that part of the producer's collection was up for sale in Bubeck's shop, UHF in Royal Oaks, Michigan. But almost as soon as it was on sale, it was back off the market.
Yancey's mother (aka "Ma Dukes") offered to help authenticate the collection before any more of it was sold, acknowledging that her son did store his collection at the same facility. According to the Detroit News, Bubeck returned a massive stack of beat tapes and other personal possessions to Ma Dukes, and will sell off the remaining vinyl at a later date as a benefit for the Dilla Foundation. Yancey's untimely death from lupus at the age of 32 shocked the hip-hop world and canonized his innovative, sample-based beatmaking skills among the all-time greats.
Considering the amount of attention his work received posthumously, it seems kind of surprising that the fate of his record collection went unnoticed for so long (he died in '06). It got us wondering what happened to the record collections of some other great artists. So, with fond memories of Record Store Day 2012 fading into the ether, here's a look at the fates of some famous stacks of wax.
Screwed Up Records
5. DJ Screw
The legendary syrup-drinking Houston-based DJ, whose style of slowing down and cutting up songs popularized the term "chopped and screwed," didn't have the biggest collection of records (about a 1,000 total), but his impact on the aesthetics of hip-hop is unquestionable. Last year, the records were given a permanent home at the University of Houston, where the bounty of Southern and West Coast rap will be catalogued and preserved for scholarly use. Also included were copies of all Screw's old mixtapes and personal items such as old photos. The university has already put the collection to good use, too, serving up a public exhibition on Screw and the rise of Houston hip-hop.
via Cosloy's blog
4. Gerard Cosloy
He might not be a household name, but Cosloy is a founder of the respected indie label Matador Records (Pavement, Guided by Voices, Liz Phair, Yo La Tengo, etc.). Needless to say, he'd acquired a museum-worthy music collection over the years. Unfortunately, in August 2009, his home in Austin burned to the ground in the middle of the night. While Cosloy escaped unharmed (thankfully), his record collection did not (unfortunately). A lifetime of collecting was turned into a massive lump of melted plastic -- no doubt an immeasurable loss, as record nerds can attest.
A clip from the Daily Mirror
via the Fame Bureau website
In 1968, Elvis asked his first guitarist and manager, Scotty Moore, for some help transferring a stack of old 78s onto tape. The 26 records included Carl Perkins, Fats Domino and a handful of other early influences on Presley's taste for rock and roll. He was supposed to give them back to Elvis when they met up for a tour, but the tour never happened, and the records sat forgotten in a suitcase for a number of years. In May 2010, Moore decided to auction off the collection at the Fame Bureau in London, so that they might find a good home. The 26 records fetched a sum of 75,000 pounds at auction.
2. Pias Group
The Pias Group is the largest independent distributor in the U.K., working for dozens of record labels and film studios. Things were going well until Pias's North London warehouse was set ablaze during the riots late last summer. The warehouse was three stories high and had more than 60,000 square feet of space. It contained stock for labels like Domino, 4AD, Warp, Ninja Tune and more. Among the release-date casualties was the Arctic Monkeys, whose new single at the time, "The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala," couldn't be shipped to retailers because the stock had been in the warehouse.
1. Jam Master Jay
After the legendary DJ from Run DMC was tragically killed in 2002, the fate of his collection was uncertain. While it definitely could have gone to a museum, the boxes of records were left in Jam Master Jay's former studio in Queens, which was being renovated by new owners. The records were going to be thrown out until someone by the name of Great Zeee stopped by and said that they definitely shouldn't be thrown out because they belonged to a legend. So, Zeee has them in his basement now, stacked up on top of each other in milk crates. He explains how the coincidental evening of his acquisition came about in the YouTube video above.
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