THE PALACES OF POP
A 45 rpm spin through Palm Beach County’s lost and forgotten record stores.
Music lovers have it made nowadays. You log into Spotify, find a song, click on it. Stick in your earbuds. Done.
So why do we persist in a nostalgic reverie about the good old days of vinyl, when you actually had to get in your car and drive somewhere to buy music? When you needed a weirdly-shaped yellow plastic insert to play a 45 rpm single. And when you pretty much had to buy an album on faith — and the talismanic power of the artwork, liner notes and track information on its plasticwrapped cover.
Let’s agree that progress is a good thing, music-wise. Still, we kinda miss the record store.
Is it possible to even count the
number of hours we spent in record stores? You’d go down the long rows, strengthening your finger muscles as you flipped fast and furious through endless stacks of LPs. You’d stop, look at the cover, turn it over, think about
it — Is this three-LP Emerson, Lake and Palmer album really worth
$5.99? — put it back, take it out again, think about it some more.
You could be in there all day sometimes.
And then you’d have to browse the 45s (or in later eras, the 8-tracks, “cassingles” and CDs, though that was never quite the same.) Or maybe you needed to buy a record player needle. Or a blacklight poster of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Or the latest copy of Rolling Stone, Circus or Creem magazines. Or you wanted to score primo concert tickets — which means you’d been camped out at the record store all night long. There was no online then. You got in a real line.
A record store was a community — a place for the like-minded to mingle, chill, and discuss music. A Starbucks of sound. Sure, you can find every single you once owned on YouTube now, but the record store provided a more human connection. And the people who worked there were usually weirdly obsessive just like you.
We asked online readers to remind us of their favorite Palm Beach County record stores and we dug around in our archives for more clues. Other than the chain era of the ’80s to ’90s, there were never a lot of stores that exclusively sold records. Department stores, drug stores, and TV/stereo appliance shops were the major players for music.
Confusion Records, Lake Park’s venerable vinyl joint, is about the only place left today that would fit the definition of a vintage record store. Even with a vinyl revival, the music sections of chain stores such as Barnes & Noble or FYE are mere ghosts of what they once were. Best Buy just announced that it’s discontinuing CDs in July and will only commit to selling vinyl for two more years.
All that’s left to do is drop the needle on these memories.
SALON OF MUSIC: This was one of the the first record stores in Palm Beach County. Salon of Music had a shop at 245 Worth Ave. as early as 1945, according to old newspaper ads. It’s where the Loro Piana clothing and accessories store is now. Salon also had an outpost at 110 S. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach, near Clematis. The shop routinely took out ads in The Post, promoting everything from Bob Hope and boogiewoogie LPs in the 1940s to Elvis Presley’s “great new RCA Victor record album” in 1956.
“They had listening booths,” recalled reader Lisa Jefferson. “I remember it in the early-mid 1960s. Everything was downtown then — no Palm Beach Mall.”
“Used to go there all the time for 45s,” said reader Roger Meldrum.
“They had several small booths that you would go in and listen to a 45 while you decided which one you wanted to buy,” remembered Barbara Hughes Crawford. “At that time, it was a big record store.”
By 1965, Salon of Music had a new West Palm location at 801 S. Dixie, near what is now CityPlace, touted as “the largest independent Home Entertainment Center in the Palm Beaches.” It had expanded into a full-service “custom sound installation” business, selling TVs, stereos and providing everything from fire alarms to school sound systems.
WILSON’S MUSIC MANOR:
This was also a home entertainment appliance store and record shop. According to newspaper ads, it began around 1961. It had locations in Lake Park and on Northwood Road and South Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach.
It touted itself in the mid-’60s as the headquarters for Beatles albums: “Let’s Go to Music Manor — Where The Action Is and Rock To The Sounds of The Beatles,” one ad announced, accompanied by a picture of a moptop wig. A 1966 ad claimed Music Manor had “The Palm Beaches Largest Record Display.” Dig these prices: James Brown’s “Soul Brother” album sold for $2.49 (a discount from the list price of $3.79.) “Aftermath” by the Rolling Stones went for $2.89 in stereo, a little less in mono. Record cleaning cloths sold for a quarter, record holding racks for 69 cents.
“I think my family spent so many hours in Music Manor, there might be a plaque commemo-
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 1986: An employee stocks the display of the new Bruce Springsteen album at the Peaches Records & Tapes on Okeechobee Boulevard. Back then, the release of a major artist’s new album was big news, as people would flock to the store to buy it.
A March 1956 ad for the Salon of Music in The Palm Beach Post.
The interior of Salon of Music’s West Palm Beach store on Olive Avenue, around 1959-60, judging from the albums on sale.
2001: Sound Splash on Georgia Avenue in West Palm Beach.