Vic­to­ria man has quite the col­lec­tion

Vic­to­ria man has 9,000 vinyl re­leases

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.”

The col­lec­tor

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

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COMPASS

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.

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