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Henry Rollins on Some of His Favorite Crate-Digging Experiences

Henry Rollins shares his favorite (and nightmare) experiences shopping for records. The former have been in-store while the latter can be due to an unsuccessful online hunt. 

As to favorite experiences, two come to mind. In 1990-something, I finished a tour in Auckland, New Zealand. I had hours before my flight out. I went to Real Groovy Records, a bit of an institution there. I went to the Joy Division section to see what was happening and it looked like someone had sold off the entirety of their bootlegs and they had been placed there minutes before I arrived. I found at least 15 I had never seen before, all in great condition and fairly priced.

The hits kept on coming. Pere UbuFrank ZappaSugarcane HarrisGun Club bootlegs, Beefheart bootlegs — it was incredible. Hours later, I was at the airport waiting on my flight with at least 30 LPs.

The other favorite experience would be in late 1979 or early 1980. Myself, Ian MacKaye, and some others had ventured up from Washington, D.C. to NYC to see Sham 69 play at Hurrah. We went to Bleecker Bob’s Records, which was legendary. Bob was behind the counter. He’s larger than life.

“Waddaya want?!”

I had my want list of records and started reading off titles. It’s as if Bob took my requests as a dig, like he wanted to answer, “What, you think I don’t?” to what I requested, as if by asking, I was somehow in doubt of his all-comprehensive reserve. He would storm off and return seconds later, slap the requested record down, and almost dare me to ask for something else. He had every single record on my want list. First Misfits 7-inch, The Cheifs three-track EP, the Raw Records 12-inches; I forget what else but he had them all. This is when a 7-inch record was about three bucks. Try that with any of these records now. I’ve had great days of hitting the shops in cities in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and all over but those two experiences are my favorites.

The less-than-great times would be examples of basic theft. Where you send your money off and get fake goods or nothing at all. This has happened to me a few times and cost me plenty. I’ll never be able to do anything to get my money back, of course, and that’s bad enough, but what’s almost as bad is that someone would take your trust and use it against you. More often than not, the age-old rule of if something looks too good to be true, act accordingly. On almost every record-buying platform, I have had bad experiences. These days, I ask for photo verification of an advertised record and all too often, it’s an incorrect listing.

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