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SWAP MEETS FOR ROCKERS RISE AGAIN

Edwards, Dennis
Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Dec 13, 1981; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times
pg- U6

CALENDAR
Gary Theroux, left, and Bob Gilbert,
two of the pioneer organizers of lhe
now resurging pop music swap meet.

The vendors—from the single week­


end types who clean out lhe garage and
sell whatever albums they can find io lhe
perennials like Worry Marks who come
with their bins of old records almost ev­
ery weekend—pay from S25 io $75 to set
up a table al one of the meets.
"I started out when I was a young fella,
with the old 78s." says Marks.
During lhe week. Marks is an assistant
film director (ho worked on Billy Wild­
er’s "Buddy Buddy"). Bui on weekends
he’s one of lhe more venerable vinyl col­
lectors who become vendors-for-a-day
at one or more of the growing rosier of
pop record swap mccis.
"In lhe early ’40s I worked as sori of a
bouncer al a place where lhe Big Bands
used io come inio L.A.—Sinatra. Dorsey.
I started picking up lheir records."
Now. like lhe dozens of others who
operate booths al lhe swap meets, he has
closets of records. And though he’ll con­
sider buying or bartering anything plas­
tic and grooved with a hole in the middle
—including any post-1957 efforts he
terms "rock ’n' roll crap"—Marks has a
specially that he collects himself. "Big
Bands. Nice smooth stuff."
But he’s not above selling rock 'n' roll.
SWAP MEETS FOR ROCKERS RISE AGAIN He holds out a plastic-wrapped 33’4 LP
of recent vintage, noting that it is one of
lhe more expensive of the several
By DENNIS EDWARDS hundred albums he has for sale. Il is. he
concedes, a rock album.
'Til gel S40 for it." he says, flicking a

W hether it be a chic dog collar cover showing the Liverpool lads cov­ successful enough to double its floor
ered in gore with cleavers and dolls’ space, now taking up two stories of the contemptuous finger againsi the cover.
spiked in chrome or a more un­
derstated bronze for evening heads lying about, a bootleg album is a hotel with booths, concessions and a vi­ "Todd Rungren. The original Nazz’ al­
rare find. deo room where tapes of old Doors and bum. People will pay il if they warn it bad
wear. . . .
Or a “Blue Hawaii" LP. with a tan but Though swap-meet organizers like Beatles performances arc shown through enough. You’d be surprised."
dour-faced Elvis pouting from the album Gilbert now believe there are loo many the day. Marks has a "Holland" album by lhe
cover. . . . meets in Los Angeles, for four months of Though the Original Meet and the Hol­ Beach Boys lhal will bring up lo S200.
Or the first-ever issue of Rolling Slone 1981 there were none. lywood are the biggest, al Icasi iwo other There arc dozens of other rock jewels in
magazine. John Lennon peering from Their comeback began last April al meets specializing in rock bric-a-brac his collection which for the past few
Wolf & Rissmiller's Country Club in Re­ have been convening in recent months: a years he diligently hauled to lhe latest
page one. . . .
Or the bootleg version of the Rolling seda where the doors opened to more Pasadena City College meet on the first swap meet. Then, in December. 1981.
Stones’ "Get Your Ya-Ya's Out." rctitlcd than 2.000 customers, who paid SI a head Sunday of each month and a flea market there suddenly were no meets lo haul
"Liver Than You’ll Ever Get" by the leg­ to browse through some 70 dealers’ old that sets up shop from time to lime al the them lo anymore.
endary bootlegger Rubber Dubber. . . . records, rock concert T-shirts, posters, Holiday Inn near the Los,Angeles Con­ Gilbert and Greg Biggs, who helped
They all have their price when they go bumper stickers and books. vention Center. organize the resurrection of lhe Original
up for sale at one of Los Angeles' super­ The biggest competition thus far for In addition, a fifth monthly meet, Meet in April, both blame political pres­
markets of rock *n’ roll nostalgia: the rec­ the Country Club (which bills its third- scheduled on the second Sunday of each sure in L.A. Councilwoman Peggy Stev­
ord swap meets. Sunday-of-the-monlh meet as the Orig­ month, started recently al the Florentine enson’s Hollywood district for the tem­
"Everybody’s jumping on the bandwa­ inal Meet) is a firsl-Salurday-of-thc- Gardens Ballroom in Hollywood. porary demise of the meets.
gon," says Bob Gilbert, one of the pioneer monlh operation al the Hollywood Roos­ The Original Meet and lhe Hollywdod Stevenson herself wouldn’t comment
organizers of these pop music second­ evelt Hotel. The "Hollywood Record draw 1.000 to 2.000 patrons and 70 lo 100 but press secretary Jean Davis laid blame
hand marls. "I think this city's got too Meet." established under Gilbert's lead­ vendors each. Admission is $1 while Gil­ on the meets lhemseivcs and lhe atten­
many of them. We get one more and ership, began in August in the Roosev­ bert charges SI.25 al the Hollywood dant problems of hundreds of customers
there’s going to be a record swap meet elt’s Blossom Room and has since become Record Meet. in an unregulated outdoor setting where
every weekend of the month." the organizers simply couldn't control
Several thousand fans trek to the Hol­ lhe crowds.
lywood Roosevelt Hotel. Wolf & Rissmil- According to Davis. Stevenson had
ler’s Country Club or one of the other nothing to do with ending the swap
sites for the growing number of swap meets in her district: "Peggy Stevenson
meets each month for a chance to pick up had a 'Let’s Keep Hollywood Clean’ cam­
an artifact such as Presley’s mid-1960s paign and 1 think we may have been the
pressing of "Blue Hawaii." If it is flawless victims of that." says Biggs.
—no scratches, clean cover, legible liner "The point is it’s coming back lo Hol­
notes—"Blue Hawaii" can command lywood." Gilbert says. "That will make
$800. all lhe difference in the world. Holly-
The Rolling Slone magazine, kept wood is where lhe record meet belongs."
wrapped and unsullied in cellophane,
goes for S10. A 2V$-inch-widc leather The Blossom Room of the Hollywood
dog collar, with nine sharp spikes and Roosevelt, and an additional room
four rows of nol-so-sharp pyramid­ on the second floor where video­
shaped rivets for the punk crowd, goes tapes of old performances arc aired for
for $13. customers, cost Gilbert and his new part-
A genuine Rubber Duhher bootleg LP
can cost a swap-meet customer any­
where from $15 to $50. Like an original Assistant film director Worry Marks
Woodstock T-shirt or an unblemished spends his weekends selling records at
Beatles "Yesterday and Today" album the various L.A. swap meets.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
CALENDAR
ner, John Robb, $1,850 one Saturday modate the crowds that had now grown coins or stamps, according to collectors. After listening to Morry’s sales pitch,
each month. The fact the hotel is directly to several thousands the first weekend of There are already "official” price guides however, the buyer pointed instead at an
across the street from Mann’s Chinese each month—forced the closing of the rating records in terms of how obscure, album on the wall behind Marks.
Theater makes it worth the extra rent, swap meet across the street from Capitol unusual and unscratched they are. Like It’s an album cover from Stag Party
according to Gilbert. Records. coin catalogues, the Osborne & Hamilton Records, circa 1960, with a Jayne Mans­
The long road to the Hollywood Roos­ “We started getting the undesirable series of "Original Record Collectors field blonde falling out of her dress over
evelt and to Wolf & Rismiller’s Country elements. People urinating against the- Price Guides” gives market prices on the legend: “Tales Your Mother Never
Club started about 10 years ago when neighbors’ walls, pushing over the Por- good, very good and mint-condition al­ Told You.” The lady is apparently not to
people like Morry Marks sold 78s and 45s ta-johns. By then, thousands of people bums and 45s. be found in the official price guides, but
out of the trunks of their cars on Sunday were coming to it,” says Theroux. The Presleyana Price Guide, for exam­ Marks has a price for her, too. Every­
afternoons in the parking lot of a West­ At its peak a year ago, the Capitol meet ple, puts a mint "Blue Hawaii” album at thing has its price.
wood pancake house. had 100 to 150 dealers and upward of 4,- $800. An original RCA sound track for "The most expensive one I know is
In those days, old LPs made good Fris­ 000 customers, according to Briggs. By MGM’s "Speedway" album is worth $1,- something by the Five Sharps on Jubilee
bees. There were those who treasured then, the city had discovered the swap 200. Records," says John Hillyard, another
their mint-condition 45 of "Rudolph the meet, too. "How much it’s worth is relative," says vendor. "It was a 45 and there were only
Red-Nosed Reindeer’’ in its original What actually shut it down was a sec­ Theroux. "An original Buddy Holly, three ever made.”
sleeve showing the recording artist, one tion of the City Department of Building sealed, might be worth $50 to one person. Marks’ customer loses interest in both
Paul McCartney, fuzzed out in full Santa and Safety Planning and Zoning Code To somebody who doesn’t know who Todd Rungren and Stag Party Records
Claus attire. that essentially bans open-air flea mar­ Buddy Holly is it’s not worth a dime.” and moves on.
But they were in the minority. Today kets and street vending such as that "We stress quality merchandise," says With his own brand of dreadlocks
that 45 is worth $10 and those collectors practiced at the Capitol meet. Beatlemania dealer Michael Macaluso in splayed out over the riveted denim of his
are regarded as shrewd. Then, according But a rock-meet renaissance was ine­ the hushed tones of a funeral director. He sleeveless vest, Hillyard is a direct con­
to Gary Theroux, they were regarded as vitable. All entrepreneurs like Gilbert holds up a Beatles “Get Back" book, trast to the Big Band conservatism two
addled if they were regarded at all. and Biggs had to do was bring it indoors. printed in conjunction with the release of generations removed as personified by

The rare memorabilia offered for sale And there were plenty of reasons to do the film "Let It Be.” It is, he says, an Music enthusiasts peruse the display of
at the collectors conventions includes so. original in fine condition, published in rare rock tape cassettes at one of the
charms with old hit records on them. “I’m in this like anybody else is: to England and very, very rare these days. record swap meets in the area.
make money,” says Gilbert, an assistant It goes for $125.
caterer at the Hollywood Roosevelt "There’s a 1969 lithograph of Lennon Morry Marks.
“The old 78 record collectors used to where he finally did get somebody to that we’re negotiating for right now. Just as Marks has his favorites from
move from parking lot to parking lot,” take a chance on bringing his flea market Quality, quality item; $1,000,” says Maca­ the Dorsey-Sinatra period, Hillyard
recalls Theroux, Gilbert’s ex-partner in from the cold. luso. espouses "political rock" as his special
who quit the swap meet business this He rattles off the dollar dynamics of Not everything is so expensive in his interest; "This is 'Turn Up the Heat’ by
summer to finish a book on 25 years of putting on a meet: $150 for a promoter's booth. There are T-shirts with Lennon’s Suburban Lawns on Direct Hit Records.”
Top 10 records in the U.S. "Eventually, license, about $125 for insurance, rental name and "Rock & Roll” printed across He slips the 45 out of its sleeve and
they wound up next door to Capital Rec­ fees that now come close to $2,000. the top. There are other shirts with car­ shows a ruby-red record label with Di­
ords in Hollywood.” "On top of that I have to pay for adver­ toon caricatures of the Beatles done in rect Hit’s logo—an instrument that's half
In the beginning about four years ago. tising, use of my telephone to talk with several colors over the chest. Fender guitar and half machine gun.
the first full-fledged record swap meets the dealers. And my rent. I have to pay Macaluso’s T-shirts have been part of Smiley Lewis’ rendition of "The Bells
took place in the parking lot next door to for my rent where I live, don’t I?" his line for most of the eight years he’s Are Ringing" means about as much to a
Capitol's Vine Street building. They were As Morry Marks learned some time been selling Beatles memorabilia. Most of Direct Hit aficionado like Hillyard as a
strictly small potatoes—an informal ago, there’s money to be made even by what he sells is secondhand Beatle trea­
"Nazz" LP means to Marks, but Hillyard
Sunday get-together, according to The­ vendors. Meet organizers like Gilbert and sures, however, and the impression he has one in his box of discs just below the
roux. Mamis have learned that lesson, too. In leaves is that he would never consider Suburban Lawn 45. The price tag is $100.
But the numbers began increasing. To their new locations, they’ve begun trafficking in a Beatle name if it meant Organizers like Theroux, Biggs and
gel the best deal on a mint copy of Danny charging customers admission and the even the most remote harm to one of the
Gilbert, themselves vendors from time to
and the Juniors or a Morry Marks 1940s vendor price also has increased. It now three surviving band members. time, estimate that weekend salesman
78, buyers had to come early. can cost as much as $75 for a Sunday Remembering the assassination of from opposite ends of the pop music
So the sellers came even earlier. Soon salesman to set up his tables at Wolf and Lennon last December, Marcluso said: spectrum like Marks and Hillyard can
the meet was no longer a Sunday morn­ Rismiller’s Country Club. Floor space is
"It was hard on us. We cried, of course. come away with a profit of as much as
ing event—it was a Saturday night very nearly as dear at the Hollywood Everybody cried when they heard it $50, $100, even $200 for their efforts.
event. Roosevelt. happened. I knew exactly what I was
People brought flashlights to see what And it doesn’t really matter whether
A look at the kind of prices command­ doing that day, like the day Kennedy was
it was they were buying and the meet their tastes are in Artie Shaw or the Dead
ed by collectors explains why there’s shot. But you’ve got to carry on,"
went round the clock. According to The­ Kennedys. There is a middle ground.
been a jump in the level of operating ex­ He stressed that his John Lennon T-
roux, the operators of the Pantages "I understand the Five Sharps record
penses and sales sophistication since the shirt was printed and sold before the is worth $4,000," says Hillyard. "It’s not
Theater around the corner on Hollywood midnights in the Capitol Records parking Beatle was shot. He would never, never
Boulevard began to take exception to exactly my taste, but wouldn’t that be
lot. cash in on his death. nice to have?"
swap-meet customers spilling over into They aren’t yet recognized as such by
their parking lot area on Vine Street on the Internal Revenue Service, but the
Saturday nights. That and other prob­ day is fast approaching when records will Morry Marks appeared on the verge Calendar Movies, Page 44
lems—notably. lack of space to accom- be as rare and regulated a commodity as of unloading his Todd Rungren album

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.