Has it really been 21+ years?
I’ll never forget the first time in 87(?) that a former friend from high school and I went to a “new” record store in Norfolk called Skinnies Records. We didn’t know what to expect and I think we even got lost on the way. I was driving and my pal was navigating (bad news!). So we find it on 21st St in Ghent and go in.
So we walk in and I believe the first time we went in, Jeff was working. Now, Jeff was a big guy too. So that’s 3 big guys in this store. What I haven’t mentioned yet was that the store was only about 14′ x 14′ and jam packed with records and tapes. That’s right kiddies, CDs had not hit the market yet. Jeff was an asshole. He knew he was so I’m not talking behind his back. He was an asshole but after we started coming in there a few times, he lightened up.
Maybe the second time I went in there, this tall sort of jangly looking guy who reminded me of Ian Gillan was working. He was cool. He was into metal. Jeff never seemed to really care about metal that much, but Steve was always ready to talk about it. I continued to go there for years and was excited when they were able to expand their current space which seemed to just get filled up again! That’s when CDs were starting to catch on too.
I pulled some real gems out of that place. Much of my (now gone) Iron Maiden vinyls came from there as well as a few of my more rare Triumph records which I still have. Pat Travers’ Putting It Straight Jap pressing on CD was one of my ultimate finds. I still drool about it every time I listen to that CD. I got several old Metal blade, Combat and NOISE Records albums as well…of course they weren’t old at the time.
I generally would schedule my trips in there over the years when Steve was working. Jeff was getting caught up in some bad shit and it eventually killed him. I was a bit sad when that happened. Actually, I was very sad.
Anyway…I had some great times in that place. I’ll never forget Mother’s Day 1989. Steve called me and asked if I wanted to come into the store that afternoon and jam with him and some other guy. Since it was mom’s day, I made sure she was cool with it and of course she was. So Steve, some tall red headed singer dude and I jammed for a few hours. Mostly to songs I had never heard. Older punk stuff I think. The only one I recognized and remember playing to this day is Under My thumb.
Sometime around that same year, Steve and Jeff were going to Hammerjacks in Baltimore to see Dave Chastain and offered to let me go. Hell yeah! I ended up having to bail the day of the show for something, I don’t remember what. I do remember calling Steve the next day to see how it went and he let me know that they never made it. Flipped the van or something like that.
Years later, Ghent was going through some redevelopment and the building Skinnies was in was slated for demolishing as a Walgreen’s was coming in. That was sad news but Steve persevered and found another location nearby.
Skinnies was always a cool place to hangout though. It still is. Steve and I became really good friends over the years. Helped him move twice and my back still suffers the ills of his fish tank and 1000 boxes of records! hahaha! I also got to see him get through some major medical issues and am happy as hell that things got back to “normal” so to speak. Not half as happy as him though, ya know?
I moved into the same neighborhood as the record store and even got to work there on Sundays for a little while. You don’t know how much I loved that and will always be grateful to him for the experience. When I decided to move to Texas, saying my goodbyes there 2 years ago was pretty difficult. I felt like I was leaving a major part of my life behind. In many ways I think I did, but not necessarily in a bad way.
So…all in all, just wanted to say thanks Steve. You and that store helped me get through the crazy 80s with some fine music and good people. You’re a good friend.
I’m really proud of you for getting thru the great record store crash that took out some of the other legendary stores in that area like Unicorn, Electric Smiles and The Music Man.