Saturday, June 03, 2017

Throwing Neil Young out of my store

Here's another excerpt from my new book, THE ME GENERATION... BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE '60s), available for Kindle users.  Just go here or click on book cover on the right.  My sincere thanks to those of you who have downloaded it.  There's also a paperback and audio book version.   Did I mention I do this blog for free and a great way to support this site AND receive literally hours of literary enjoyment is to buy this book?   (Hey, at least I'm not saying buy this book or I shoot this dog.   Yet.) 

This is from 1966.  I just got a job in the mall at Wallich's Music City Records.  

Considering that my classmates were all boxing groceries or changing the grease traps at McDonald’s, I considered myself extremely lucky to be hawking 45’s.

I manned the singles counter. That meant I helped customers, restocked the bins, and let people into the listening booths. Just like in the Hollywood store, you could sample albums for free. A lot of rock bands lived in nearby Topanga Canyon and less-nearby Laurel Canyon and would slither down the hill to check out the competition. The great Captain Beefheart was a Wallichs regular!

We had one rule: no smoking pot. We didn’t want the 70-year-old grandmother to get a contact high following Captain Beefheart in the booth, not to mention those glass cubicles served as the store window. Public displays of illegal behavior were bad for the store’s image.

The biggest transgressor was the Buffalo Springfield’s Neil Young. And he was a shithead. I used to throw him out once a week. Plus, he slept with and dumped a girl I had a crush on so I took every opportunity to kick his raggedy ass to the curb.

Two notable co-workers: Steve Hall, who went on to become a world-renowned pianist/ recording artist and died way too young. And Skip, who frequently brought his pet ocelot to work. I pleaded with Skip to lock it in a listening booth with Neil Young.

Night managers would come and go. These were usually alcoholics who owned decent suits. They’d generally last about three months. One night manager we had for awhile, who was not on the sauce was Nik Sullivan. I once asked him what he did before this and he modestly confessed he played guitar in a group. I said, “Really? Which group? Any one I’ve heard of?” He said, “Yeah, Buddy Holly and the Crickets.” “Oh bullshit!” I said. He shrugged, meandered over to the Buddy Holly section, pulled out an album, and son of a bitch, there he was.
Nik is on the left
Talk about being extremely lucky. He escaped death twice. First when he decided not to board that doomed flight that took Holly’s life, and second when I let a robber into his office who had a gun.

In fairness, I didn’t know he was a robber. Hey, he didn’t wear a mask. I was thrown. Instead, he wore a tailored suit and said he was the manager of the Hollywood branch. He had done his homework. He knew Nik’s name. So when he asked if Nik was in the office I said, “Sure, go on back.” He walked out five minutes later with a week’s receipts after pointing a loaded pistol at Nik’s head. Where is an ocelot when you need one?

Nik didn’t blame me, said anyone in my place would have done the same thing; still it’s always nagged at me that I almost got a Cricket killed.
For more samples and to order, here's where you go.  Thanks!


Anonymous said...

I doubt that Young was on the Winter Dance Party Tour.
Buddy was using some different guys on that tour including Waylon and Tommy Allsup.
Plus Richie Valens was doubling playing some drums.
So Neil was probably off in California or Ontario or somewhere then the music died.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, back when armed robbers took pride in their profession and bothered to dress up. Those were the days.


Gerald said...

Here's Neil's revenge on you guys - and it does sort of justify his ire:

Peter said...

Friday Q

Where do you stand on the Kathy Griffin controversy? Do you think she went too far or do you think comedy should have no limits?

I myself am slightly on the fence. On the one hand, I dislike Trump intensely. On the other hand, it was a very gruesome and almost realistic image which apparently caused his son to panic when he saw the photo on TV.

Whilst maintaining my dislike for Trump, I'm also cognizant of the basic fact that the guy, as loathsome as he is, hasn't done anything that would justify the notion of him being beheaded. He's a punk, he's not Hitler.

I don't think Griffin's career should be destroyed over this, but at the same time I struggle to feel sorry for her when she clearly did this for shock value and attention.

Y. Knott said...

The original Crickets broke up in November 1958. Buddy Holly had a completely new backing group for the Winter Dance Party tour of early '59. So Nikki Sullivan wasn't in any danger of getting on that plane....

Greg Thompson said...

To give equal time to Neil Young, here's some old footage of him visiting a record store and finding bootleg records of his music and being fairly decent about it with the store clerk.

LouOCNY said...

Hey Ken - Just FYI, the website had a design contest to create a realistic uniform based on a TV show/movie, And the winner was....(drum roll)...The Springfield Isotopes! You should go and check it out! It's awesome, complete with a Duff Beer patch!

cd1515 said...

Friday Q: I'm late but I just finished season 2 of "Casual" on Hulu, have you seen it?
Could you review it?

Mike Barer said...

Hey Hey MY My, no smoking in my store, don't even try! (take off on popular Neil Young song)

Frederick Herman "Freddy" Jones said...


I read your post with great interest.

Well, I hope Neil Young will remember a Levine man don't need him around anyhow ...

Sorry, I'm not clever on an empty stomach, and it's tough to rhyme something with "southern" that makes sense in context.

Otherwise, when you rehashed that story (hash... ) HA! I'm back, baby! ... When you rehashed that story, it brought up a question. Have you ever written a scene where the characters went through the exact same experience as yourself, and, if so, which one (scene) are you most proud of?

Excuse me for now. I have the munchies.