The Sound Of Dobells – The British Record Shop Archive.

In August 2012 the British Record Shop Archive was set up online by Leon Parker to save the history of how we found, listened and bought music. For the last four years ‘Record Store Day’ have grabbed the media’s attention remind us of the value of record shops. As this happens just one day a year there is a need for something that truly celebrated the classic record shop as a great British institution. That is how Leon came up with the idea of putting on an exhibition about an iconic record shop.

Until 1989, when Dobells finally became another victim of rent rises and redevelopment, Dobells had been a Mecca to music lovers for more than four decades. Dobells was one of the first record shops outside the US to stock Jazz, Blues, Folk, World, Latin and African music. It was also a meeting point for a remarkable network of different people — musicians, both the famous and the forgotten, anarchists, politicians, doctors, dancers, dockers, writers galore, union officials, eminent academics, film stars, journalists. school kids still in uniform and bankers (not to mention some distinctly dodgy Soho characters) — all rubbing shoulders drawn by a passion for music into a cramped, smoke-filled and frequently alcohol-fueled record shop in Soho.

Dobells was the first port of call for visiting American musicians. Many would come to Dobell’s from Heathrow and buy records before they found a hotel room! BB King loved Dobell’s while once Janis Joplin dropped in with a bottle of Southern Comfort. You could find Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Red Allen or half the Ellington band shopping and gossiping. It acted as a fertile learning ground for the youngsters who went on to lead such legendary British bands as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Cream and from Belfast Taste. The listening booths were research libraries to a whole generation and on Friday afternoons wage envelopes were torn open for rare Blue Notes, Riversides, Topics Folkways and Blue Horizons.

And Dobells is where Bob Dylan spent a lot of his time during the long winter of 1962 when he lived and performed in London. Dylan even recorded in Dobell’s basement as Blind Boy Grunt. Goal.

The Dobell’s exhibition will be the first ever free exhibition of an independent record shop and will celebrate how this shop played an important role in the development of Britain as home to much of the world’s greatest popular music.

If you want to commemorate the crucial, still-ongoing role of Dobell’s in the cultural and musical life of Britain, or celebrate the great record shops of old, or if you were a Dobell’s customer, then please donate whatever you can and sponsor this unique exhibition about a truly unique place.

All those making a donation will have their name posted on British Record Shop Archive website to acknowledge your support and thanks.

Click here to visit the website, make a donation or find out more information.

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