Vinyl love affair
- Leighton Williams
Bunny Goodison, record collector and music connoisseur,
points to his special collection of vinyl records at his home in
the Corporate Area.
THEY travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of
dollars to get it - that rare piece of vinyl - a record
It's a hobby that they love because it brings joy to their
Record collectors all share a common bond - a love for music.
Such is their love that they collect just about every genre of
music, ranging from reggae to even Japanese music. They have
music by people such as Don Romano, Kenny Shepherd and Markie
Richards, which sounds unfamiliar to some of us.
"Record collecting is a very interesting hobby and you have
fun doing it. You'll travel thousands of miles looking for the
record of your choice," said Richard "Billy T" Elcock, a
Mr. Elcock, a 50-something-year-old collector based in Miami,
has in excess of 25,000 albums and 75,000 singles.
He's not the only one who will go thousands of miles to
collect records. Most collectors would leave Jamaica, the United
States and Canada to buy records from places as far away as
Australia, Japan and Europe, or vice versa.
"There are Japanese that love Jamaican music and come here
just to buy it," said Michael Barnett, who has been collecting
records for more than 30 years. He boasts a catalogue of 12,000
singles and 3,000 albums.
The rare recordings don't come cheap. For example Jimmy
London's 1974 version of A Little Love sells for US$25.
Bob Marley and the Wailers' He Who Feels It Knows It,
Hold On and The Sunshine On Me each cost US$375.
Collectors claim that there are more expensive Bob Marley tunes.
"The rarest Bob Marley I have is One Cup of Coffee,
which costs several hundred U.S. (dollars), but the earliest,
which is Judge Not, costs roughly US$1,000," said Richard
"Richie" Clarke, who has been collecting records for the past
Other collectors also spend huge sums to acquire a record
that very few people in the world have. Take for example "Billy
T", who has bought a single for US$400 and sold one for
However, while collectors claim they have bought a 45rpm
record for as low as U.S. five cents, many were unable to say
how much they would spend to get a particularly rare record.
"I don't know how much I would spend at this point as the
thrill and passion for collecting records is gone," said
broadcaster and record collector, Bunny Goodison.
Still there are some music lovers who are driven by passion
to find the rarest music. They collect records going back as
early as the 1930s to the present. The thrill doesn't come from
hearing a modern vinyl record. Somehow, it sounds better with
age and in the end it also fetches a good price.
"You may collect a new record but you don't play it until it
gets older. The real value comes when it is 20 years or older.
Then it becomes a vintage record and people will buy it," said
Donald Campbell who has been collecting for more than 30 years.
"Sometimes a lot of these old records got overlooked when
they were sent to the disc jockeys to get played. So while they
may be good enough to be number one they never became popular.
So because of this it is hard to get and that also increases the
value," he added.
While pleasure is derived from playing a 45rpm or LP of more
than 20 years old, the fuel that drives the passion to collect
records is the vinyl itself.
"The value of a record is that it is on vinyl," said Mr.
Barnett. "The (compact disc) CD has no value to the collector."
The collectors take their hobby seriously. "Billy T"
purchases records over the Internet. He and some of his friends
once travelled 8,000 miles in three days looking for a piece of
music done by Don Romano. He also puts out a listing in various
collectors magazine for pieces that he needs.
Mr. Goodison catalogues his records that he keeps in a room
at his house built specifically for that purpose. He even has
78rpms, an earlier form of record that would break if it fell to
the ground. He recalls some of the things that he went through
to get his records.
"When I was younger I couldn't afford to buy records. So what
I used to do was pay down on the records on a weekly basis when
I got paid - I've bought records at garage sales and travelled
to the United States to purchase soul and jazz records," he
said. Barnett too has pulled out the stops to find his vinyl
love. "I've gone into basements and come out with white dust all
over me for records. I've travelled through 25 cities in the
United States visiting numerous record shops to get records,"
As if the problems to collect the records aren't enough, at
least one collector has had to ensure that his two loves do not
conflict. "My wife feels she's in competition for my time. So I
have to come up with skilful time allotments. I wait until
everyone's asleep then I play the records for about two hours
before going to bed," said Mr. Barnett.
The collectors all use one word to describe their precious
items - priceless. The money doesn't matter and they refuse to
put a value on their collection as the thrill they have knowing
they have so much music at their disposal is fulfilling enough.
"Often times I wondered if I died what would happen to my
collection. Some people suggest I offer them to some institution
but that is far from my mind. I'll probably let my daughter have
them. She loves music just as much as I do," said Bunny
Goodison, who adds that his family all loved music so he didn't
have the problem of his family feeling left out.
To ensure that the vinyl lives on, even with the increasing
popularity of CDs, the collectors plan to have an annual vinyl
spin-off where they will play songs from their collection.
"Many people thought the vinyl would have died, but the vinyl
will live on," said Mr. Barnett. "It has been around for a long
time and will go on. It survived the cassettes and it will
survive the CD."