SAM THE RECORD MAN – Farewell To The King

Sam Sniderman passed away on Sunday, September 23rd 2012. He was 92 years old.

I didn’t know the man. I never met him. When I saw him in passing there was a sense of reverence that came with the experience. As in “That’s him, that’s the guy.”

Simply put, the gentleman who was known as Sam The Record Man played a huge part in fuelling the music-obsessed soul trapped inside this 43-going-on-18 year old. Opened in 1961, the iconic flagship store on Yonge Street in Toronto that launched a cross-Canada chain was a haven and a world of discovery. It was also the place I happily dropped thousands of dollars over the course of my teen years and into my 20s without thinking twice.

When the store closed down in 2007 it was heartbreaking for anyone that had spent significant time weeding through the vinyl, cassettes and CDs. The weekly off-day visits, the obligatory stop-ins on the way to a pub, club, the movies or a restaurant on the weekends, the late night visits – which the Barenaked Ladies wrote about in ‘Brian Wilson’- on the way home… it was hard to believe it had come to an end.

Sure, there were other record stores on the same strip, but Sam’s was the place, particularly through the ’80s and into the ’90s. Didn’t matter if Cheapies sold certain albums cheaper on any given week, didn’t matter if A&A’s next door was bigger on selling the soon-to-be-impossible-to-find 12″ singles (that even the Record Peddler didn’t have in stock), didn’t matter if the HMV down the street was big and flashy; Sam’s was tradition. It had the old off-white tiled floors that should have been replaced at the end of the ’70s. It had plastic dust jackets over the vinyl LPs for a reason. It had that record store smell.

It was the ultimate mom & pop record store. Supersized.

I didn’t realize it at the time but, looking back now, in a way Sam’s was like home. Not in a cheesy nerd outsiders-got-no-place-else-to-go way, but rather one of those mandatory visits one made when in the neighbourhood. Five or 10 kilometers was still close enough to demand a music run. Or else. And I know I wasn’t alone in my thinking. Continue reading SAM THE RECORD MAN – Farewell To The King

Yuppie Scum Damage Control… Gasworks Style

BeerI lost my rock club virginity in 1987, a year before I became legally allowed to get sloshed in public. It was only fitting that my chosen arena for the all-important passage to metalhead manhood took place at The Gasworks, one of two high profile rock venues in Toronto – the other being the beloved original Rock N’ Roll Heaven – that played host to wannabes and would-bes and acknowledged stars during its quarter century run (Yes, the same Gasworks Mike Myers mentions in Wayne’s World, even though the film’s version of the club is “slightly” different from the original). As a wet-behind-the-ears teen I’d passed the nondescript Yonge Street club during countless trips to the Record Peddler, Cheapies and Sam’s, wondering what it was like to see the bands advertised in the bashed up showcase window outside playing what must be a pretty small fricking room. I’d heard the Gasworks name thrown around time and again by the big boys at arena shows over the years, which added to the mystique, making it one of the Places I Have To Check Out Before I Die.
Continue reading Yuppie Scum Damage Control… Gasworks Style