Legendary Chicago Jazz Record Mart Closes
To a record collector like me, it was a punch in the gut…another one. Chicago’s legendary “Jazz Record Mart” has closed. I was planning to be there again next weekend, but now its too late. There won’t even be a liquidation sale. No more live bands playing as you browse through bin after bin of classic records. The rent recently doubled to $12,000 a month, forcing the downtown gem to close forever.
The hometown record store has been a big part of life for generations of Americans, but no more. It’s gone the route of the drive-in movie theater. If you’re old enough, you remember hanging out at “Lil’s Record Shop” in Battle Creek.
It was located at 11 Capital Southwest, near where the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is now. (a couple of doors down from the “Hi-Lo Club”, where Del Shannon got started in music.)
The next generations probably remember “Rock Café” also on Capital Southwest, next to the old Speed’s Coffee Shop. It’s been gone a few years now.
Most of my record collection came from “Boogie Records” and “Flipside Records” in Kalamazoo. Both are long gone. “Boogie”, not too far from WMU, opened in 1972 and closed in 1995. (I bought other stuff there too. It was the 70’s).
“Flipside” was on the north end of the Kalamazoo Mall. Neal Juhl was always there to talk music and entice you into buying a few more records than you could really afford.
Some Good News
There is at least one record shop still left, that I know of, in the area. “Satellite Records” is in Kalamazoo’s Vine Street neighborhood, just south of Old Central High School on Westnedge Avenue. It used to be the Corner Record Shop on top of West Main hill.
What was your record store? Know of any that are still around that we should be checking out?
More on “The Jazz Record Mart”
My first visit to “The Jazz Record Mart” was a few years ago, when my friends Joan and Dan moved to a high-rise in downtown Chicago. It was a two-block walk to 27 East Illinois Street. For me, it was heaven---8500 square feet of it! And in the back office sat the venerable owner of “The Jazz Record Mart”, and “Delmark Records”, Bob Koester, reading the liner notes on the back of an album. He opened the store in 1962. Now he’s 83.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the store got a boost in its early days from Playboy’s Hugh Hefner.
“In the early days, the Jazz Record Mart benefited from the enterprise of a fellow Chicagoan and one of America's most important jazz aficionados, Hugh Hefner. Hefner was an emerging force in publishing with Playboy, which featured comely women often photographed lounging around the hi-fi. Hefner was touting the new, sophisticated lifestyle, and jazz was essential to it. For those who read Playboy for the articles, Hefner included profiles of jazz artists and an article by jazz pianist Dave Brubeck on the new jazz audience.”
All of the "Jazz Record Mart's" vinyl, posters, videos and CD’s are now the property of “Wolfgang’s Vault”, a Reno Nevada company that digitizes old records.
When I first visited New York City in 1991, I made a bee-line for Broadway----4th and Broadway, where the legendary Tower Records was located. That’s long gone too, another victim of escalating downtown rent.