Victoria man has quite the collection
Victoria man has 9,000 vinyl releases
Victoria’s Lloyd Clarke knows a thing or two about vinyl records of all kinds. Over the years, the former mayor of the community has amassed a collection that sits at about 9,000 pieces spanning a variety of genres.
Lloyd Clarke’s love of records starts with a jukebox.
It was 1947 and Clarke’s grandfather, Robert E. Clarke, had just opened a snack bar on the main highway in Victoria. A 15-year-old Lloyd would spend hours there helping out and listening to the country and western hits of the 1940s on the jukebox in the corner.
Patrons would pop some change in the slot, choose a song and the sounds of Gene Autry, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb would start filling the room.
When it came time to put new selections in the jukebox, that’s when Lloyd collected his first records.
“I’d save a record when the men came to switch them over. Some would be worn out,” he said. “There was always a record player in the house.”
Fast-forward half a century, and the now 83-year-old Lloyd has amassed an impressive collection of 9,000 records scattered throughout his property, which includes a listening room.
The impressive collection is made up of country, bluegrass, honky tonk, some pop and a bit of the blues. They come in 45s, 33s, old 78s — the list goes on. Lloyd even has a small number of records that spin at 16-anda-half revolutions per minute that are meant to be played in cars.
“The bumps weren’t really good for the records,” said Lloyd.
His collection even includes some turn of the century material and perhaps an original pressing of Art Scammell’s “The Squid Jiggin’s Grounds.”
His favourite is probably a recording of “Vaya con Dios” by the duo of Les Paul and Mary Ford. He likes the melody formed between the voice of Ford and the instrument of guitar-pioneer Paul.
Thumbing through a set of the 1,000 favourites he keeps in his home, Lloyd points to a pair of albums full of Hank Snow songs. His face lights up as he recounts a call put out by Snow for copies of his first recordings of “The Prison Cowboy” in 1938.
Lloyd has a copy of the treasured song, but refused to heed Snow’s call.
“I heard the call, but I wouldn’t send it away,” said Lloyd.
The listening hub
The music room in Lloyd’s home is just the family room located in the basement. A small space, there are instruments, microphones, pictures of Clarke’s country music heroes, cowboy hats and, of course, record players.
Violins, guitars, banjos, mandolins and even a stand up bass are all housed in the room.
dozen or so antique cameras, or his impressive collection of old HAM radios.
Owning a record collection like the one he has today has always been a dream of Lloyd’s. While he dabbled in collecting in his teens, it wasn’t until the 1950s when the bug took hold.
“I bought everything I could get,” he said. “I wanted a collection of records in case I would hear a song I liked and possibly I could find it and play it more often.”
Lloyd might not have that old jukebox from his grandfather’s snack bar, but that doesn’t diminish his love for the vinyl revival going on today or for his own collection. In fact, he has a newer model jukebox in his possession and one of these days he’ll put his 45s in there and start it up.
“Music has controlled my life,” he said.
“The violins and the banjos, I’ll rarely take in my hands, but the guitar,” he said, his voice trailing off. “The guitar is what I really love. I started playing at age of eight. Sometimes, I’ll get requests to play the standup bass.”
An old crank gramophone rests on the shelving halfway up the right wall. It’s one of the old models with the heavy arm and you have to crank a lever if you want to listen to music.
“I call it the record destroyer,” Clarke chuckled. “Sometimes, I’ll play records I’m not fond of on it.”
In his heart, Lloyd is really a collector. More to the point, he calls himself a “pack rat.”
“I know I should get rid of some things, but I can’t bear to let anything go,” he said.
If you want proof of this visit Lloyd’s office and gaze at his
Victoria’s Lloyd Clarke stands in front of a shelving unit full of antique HAM radios. He was weary of letting The Compass photograph his actual record collection.