My First Record

For my 50th blog post, I’m going to return to the ‘My First…’ theme that was so well received (‘My First 12”’ and ‘My First X’, both back in July), and ask an even more obvious question – what was the first record you ever purchased (the one you paid for with your own money, rather than it being bought for you – be it 7”, LP, 12”, cassette, CD or even eight-track)?

I shelled out for the first time in December 1971, when I was 11, buying from an electrical shop called Chester’s, up the road from where I lived on Victoria Rd in New Brighton.

However, before this, I already had access to a pretty strong selection of 7” singles, which came from two sources. The main one, as I’ve mentioned on many occasions, were the records that my brother and sister had bought, which I ‘acquired’ when they moved away from home (my brother going to college, my sister joining the Wrens). These were mainly Soul singles, the majority of which were on the Tamla Motown, Stax and Atlantic labels, with a smattering of Reggae (courtesy of my sister only) on labels like Trojan and Pyramid. My brother, who like many of his generation had left the Mod era behind, growing his hair and embracing the more ‘progressive’ Rock bands, like Led Zeppelin, Cream and Captain Beefheart, hardly noticed me pillage his 7” singles, which he’d pretty much stopped buying, LP’s being his format of choice (years later he’d nostalgically remember these 45s of his youth and ask for them back). I think my sister was just happy to leave her singles with someone who loved them like she did, and who better than her little brother? I’ve since compiled discs for them both, including as many of those tracks that I could remember. Here’s a photo of the three of us taken (in that very month of Dec ’71) at my brother’s 21st birthday party:

The second source was via the jukebox we had in the pub my parents ran, and which we lived above. My Mum or Dad would often give me half a crown (or it might have been a two bob bit) in the pre-decimalisation days, or 50p after (they could reclaim these coins from the machine when it was emptied), so I could play some tunes. This was generally during the daytime when the pub was quiet and I could sit in the back room, sometimes with a friend, listening to the singles on there. I devoured a lot of music, that neither my brother nor my sister owned, in this way.

Every couple of weeks the ‘Jukebox Man’ would come to the pub to add a few new singles, whilst taking out some old ones, and I’d hang around hoping he’d let me have a couple of the ones he was removing. I’d often bug him for a particular record I wanted, sometimes having to wait a number of visits before he finally replaced the one I was after (an example that springs to mind is Tami Lynn’s ‘I’m Gonna Run Away From You’). The ones I didn’t get my hands on would end up in the cut-price ‘ex-jukebox’ sections, having been sold on to record shops – an ex-jukebox record was easy to identify as the centre had been dinked out, so you needed to use an adapter, or, as we used to call it, a spider, in order to play it.

Had the first record I actually bought been on our jukebox I’d have probably waited on the Jukebox Man to eventually hand it over, but it wasn’t, so I went out and bought it with some money I’d no doubt earned from doing a job for my Dad around the pub. So what was it that brought me to the counter at Chester’s almost 41 years ago, where I happily parted with my hard earned cash? Not a great Soul or classic Reggae track, not even a hooky Pop hit of the day, but a novelty record by a then popular British comedian that would sit at the summit of the chart throughout the majority of Dec ’71. It was (strike up fanfare) Benny Hill with ‘Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)’ (which, as it happens, also turns out to be the first record bought by Bill Brewster, the co-author of the book ‘Last Night A DJ Saved My Life’, who’s the same age as me).

Back in 1971 ‘The Benny Hill Show’ was compulsive viewing in many households – the combination of daft blokes and sexy babes was a particularly potent one, capturing that saucy seaside postcard mentality of the post-war generation, which helped bring about a whole wave of iconic British smut from ‘Carry On…’ to ‘Confessions Of…’. Most of the male viewers, young or old, were particularly partial to Hills Angels, the show’s famous eye candy, whose main purpose was to run around in their skimpys. The programme, of course, had a cult playground following, although I’m sure many parents wouldn’t have tolerated such muck polluting their children’s minds – mine were usually too busy working downstairs in the pub to monitor my own viewing habits, besides, if there was anything on that shouldn’t have been, I could hear them coming up the stairs if I watched from the hallway, giving me ample time to switch off the TV and get to my bedroom undetected.

In 1971 ‘The Benny Hill Show’ would have been widely regarded as ‘naughty but nice’ or ‘good harmless fun’, but Hill would later suffer the fate of the politically incorrect, and eventually he’d be dumped in the dustbin of UK TV history (Ben Elton hastening his demise by denouncing him as ‘a dirty old man, tearing the clothes off nubile girls’, which, in turn, prompted The Independent newspaper to describe Elton’s assault on Hill as ‘like watching an elderly uncle being kicked to death by young thugs’). Unapologetically misogynistic, Hill’s sketches, in many respects, were neither big nor clever, so he remains something of a pervy period piece. However, I, and countless others, either laughed our heads off Beavis and Butthead style at his sleazy antics, whilst our eyes popped out at the sight of Hill’s Angels in various states of undress – we were banged to rights adolescent blimp addicts, that’s for sure.

‘Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)’ caught the popular imagination with its silly story, catchy chorus and innuendo strewn lyrics, and would consequently take its place in the record books as the UK Christmas Number 1 for 1971. If you want to hear what it was that tickled the fancy of this 11 year old schoolboy (plus countless others throughout this country and beyond), here’s the tale of Ernie, Sue, Two-Ton Ted, and, of course, his trusty carthorse Trigger (although I must add that this comes with a ‘you had to be there at the time’ disclaimer):

My First 12”:

My First X:

Benny Hill Wikipedia:

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31 Responses to My First Record

  1. 3dj November 25, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    great post as always fella 🙂

  2. Jason Littler November 25, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Well like you Greg I was lucky to inherit most of my earlier music, mostly my folks Motown 7″. The first single I ever bought was in 1975 and it was the Bay City Rollers classic “Bye Bye Baby” which I bought from a small record shop in Heywood (where I lived during my childhood years). I would have been around 8 years old at the time. I have a photo of myself and my sister at a caravan site in either Blackpool or Fleetwood around the same time with me dressed in my Bay City Rollers outfit (tartan cuffs) that my mum made for me. We had an old reel to reel with a mic attached and I remember singing to Top Of The Pops and recording us. Fond but vague memories now but a true intro to my performance years and my love for music.

  3. Laurie Laptop November 25, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    My first record was the soundtrack to the film Dougal and The Blue Cat in about 1976. I was only 4 and it scared the be-Jesus out of me at the time. The first music I bought with my own money was a cassette of The Luxury Gap by Heaven 17 in 1983 from Woolworths in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy. It still sounds great!

  4. Dan Soulsmith November 25, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Greg, you won’t like this being on your blog, but since you’ve asked.. My first record was… The Anfield Rap 7″. 😉

  5. Ed November 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    That girl with Benny Hill on the photo is the girl from Frasier I think!

    First record I asked for was Madness – Baggy Trousers, bought for Christmas by my god mother. I have a feeling the first one I bought was a Shadow’s record in my first year at senior school with some vouchers. That or the Greatest hits of 85 I think.

  6. Mark Cathcart November 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Sadly I have no recollection of the first record I actually bought, lost in the sands of time and hundreds of schweppes crates full of 7″ inch singles. I still have the first 7″ inch single I owned, having parted with all but about 20 that have genuine sentimental or music value.

    Like your random influences collections, I produced mix tapes one after another, box after box, entitled “Gone Single-1″ etc. Without the benefit of multiple decks, I’d record a set of four tracks to four seperate cassettes. I’d carefully cue each cassette to the point where I wanted to start it.

    Then using my dual-cassette Sharp music center, play that cassette back while recording it to the 2nd cassette, and then either beat match or cut to the next 7”. As that would come to an end I’d have to cut straight to the next cassette, already cued up, then back to 7″ and so on. A real labor of love and preservation. I dumped the tapes when I left the UK, they went into a skip. I copied a few to MP3, sadly though back in 2004, 128kbps was seen as extravagant. Sometimes I think about putting them on soundcloud but then come to my senses.

    Still, my alarm clock just went off, or rather “Lack of a Better Name” by Deadmau5 started playing from MP3 DVD on the Bose Wave system I have in the bedroom, how time times have changed. Today is thanksgiving, I’m giving Thanks got Gregs Random Influences collections to save me from my own work.

    Oh yeah, my first 7″ – Fireball(Theme Tune to Fireball XL5 Gerry Anderson puppet series) by Don Spencer from 1962, accompanied and directed by Charles Blackwell
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireball_XL5 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3KtkrpAr9I

    Hope to catch you somewhere in the US in 2011 Greg!

  7. Paul Wright November 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    As a young kid I owned a couple of 12″ vinyl compilations- Walt Disneys Original Soundtrack Parade and Raiders of The Lost Charts.

    I was always taping off the radio, now and again listening to my folks vinyl and cassettes.

    Eleven years old watching top of the pops I saw Beat Dis by Bomb The Bass (at number 2 in the chart if I remember correctly). I’d never heard anything like it before and was immediately struck. 23 years later I still love it and the music I subsequently found because of it! 😀


  8. Paul Wright November 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    As a young kid I owned a couple of 12″ vinyl compilations- Walt Disneys Original Soundtrack Parade and Raiders of The Lost Charts (presents from family).

    I was always taping off the radio, now and again listening to my folks vinyl and cassettes.
    Eleven years old watching top of the pops I saw Beat Dis by Bomb The Bass (at number 2 in the chart if I remember correctly). I’d never heard anything like it before, was immediately struck and so went out and bought it myself. 23 years later I still love it and the music I subsequently found because of it!

  9. Henry November 25, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer 7″…I like to think it could have been much worse!

  10. greg wilson November 25, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    Hi Ed – just checked and you’re right, it’s Jane Leeves – well spotted:

  11. Chris Hayes November 26, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    Lost in Music by Giles Smith has a great description of his first record. In fact it’s one of the best, most touching and hilarious books about being in love with pop music ever written. First 7″ I bought was also the first tune I learnt on the guitar – 20th Century Boy by T-Rex. 2p from the ex-jukebox records on the counter at Barbara’s newsagents in Bredbury. Paid for it out of my paper round money.

  12. Ed Howard November 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Thought it was her!
    Interesting the mentions of ‘jukebox’ singles off here, we had a few knocking around when I was a kid as well. My brother and I were having a drink earlier this week in a pub by London Bridge with a very decent jukebox. We were talking about how much exposure to music we had got when we were younger via jukeboxes. My first exposure to the Stones, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd and Northern Soul was all via the jukebox of the Mulberry Tree in Warrington, not to mention stuff like Sound of the Suburbs, Echo Beach, Buzzcocks, all stuff that wasn’t in my mum’s collection (Beatles, Dusty, Carpenters, Bee Gees). There’s still stuff I hear now that takes me back to stuff I heard on the jukebox at Warrington Baths as a kid, the Buggles, M – Pop Muzik for example.

    They were good introductions to pop and ‘the classics’ and you don’t see them so much these days, more’s the pity. For 50p or a £1, you could dj to a whole pub and expose music to someone who hadn’t heard it before.

  13. Steve KIW November 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    Shakin’ Stevens – I’ll be satisfied.

    Inexplicable choice, from Woolies in Waltham Cross.

    Still got it, doesn’t get played often though!

  14. Paul Wright November 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    It was a great jukebox Ed! 😀 We had a great DJ night on there too, I can remember regularly hounding the guy with requests for The Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Doors…the list goes on and on! We worked together when I first started at ‘The Mull’ 1994…

    Hope you and Tom are well!

  15. Ed Howard November 30, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    Blimey. Blast from the past! You were learning to dj when you were there right Paul? Are you still at it?

  16. Paul Wright November 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    😀 well remembered! I had to sell all my equipment after writing off my dads car, had quite a long break..the music never stopped though, I’ve constantly been playing tunes to friends…recently back on it fella 😀

  17. Ed Howard November 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    It never leaves you! Send us a message through my soundcloud page if you like and we’ll have a catchup! Cheers


  18. Joe Bonez December 10, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    First record I was given was New Order’s Blue Monday…first record I bought was unfortunately Kenny Everetts Stutter Rap. Neither are in my possession anymore, I swapped Blue Monday for an old Yugoslavian pressing of Ghost Town by the Specials when I moved out to Central Europe.

    I think hanging round pubs in the industrial Midlands and the North definitely seems to be a common thread here. Must have been the cheese cobs and bottles of Vimto that affected us, as well as the music 😀

  19. Dave Green December 19, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    My first bought record was “No More Heroes” on a 7″ by The Stranglers just after Christmas 1977 with money from my aunt Betty. I went and bought it from Radio Rentals on Plymouth’s Mutley Plain after hearing it at a friends house, (older brother played it) and probably loved it because it sounded a bit like The Doors (Dave Greenfield’s organ) who i also liked after listening to their records from my parents collection. I would go on to buy/aquire everything by The Stranglers (singles & LP’s) over the next couple of years, right up until The Raven LP which disappointed me immensely at the time. I saw them live when i was 12 and they totally blew me away and then again at 13 & 15. I still adore the first three Stranglers albums and listen to them regularly to this day.

  20. Terry Baker December 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    Love that question. I always ask people the same thing! The first record I ever bought was the 7″ of Tone Loc’s ‘Funky Cold Medina’! Quickly followed by Beatmasters’s ‘Who’s in the House’. My musical taste is now thankfully a lot broader…and better (I think?)! But back when I was a kid I played those tracks to death!

  21. Diana Burke January 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    First 7″ I ever bought was “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees – 1966 I think, and I was 10. I still have it. B side was “Take a Giant Step” which was better – still sounds good today.

  22. DJ DJIO February 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    My first 12″…
    I can’t remember, it’s too way back in the 80’s

    But I do remember my first CD: Festa Mix 3 (1993)
    It took me 2 years to buy my own CD Player

  23. paul dixon March 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    my first 7in. single at 6s 8d was ‘I’ll never get over you; by Johny Kidd and the pirates. Still got it, in good nick and the original cover. I was always a bit anal about covers and bought plastic sleeves to keep them clean

  24. CousinConnor July 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    1980 – Adam And The Ants – Ant Music

    Oh yes.

  25. Radio F.C. March 8, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    The first one which I asked my aunt to buy for me was Bruce Springteen “Born In The USA” (on cassette, it was 1985 and I was 9)

    The first I bought with my own money was Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” (I had to wait until I was 11 for this)

    My aunt (music advisor!) taught me how to record music off the radio so I was doing that from 8 years old until I could afford to start buying my own tapes, cds, etc…

  26. Aaron Costelloe August 10, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    My cousin gave me a load of old breakbeat records when i was younger but the first record i actually bought was a Marty Bonds record in Spindizzy in Dublin.

    Marty Bonds ‎– EVA – Extra Vehicular Activity

    Not sure why but it just caught my attention in the record shop. Was straight out techno from there on out for years.

  27. Katie M August 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    What a great blog…! I’m an 80s child and the first record I got my parents to buy me was ‘If we hold on together’, Diana Ross’ song for the cartoon film ‘Land before time’… Beauty and the beast shortly followed that…!

  28. Slabface August 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    I pestered my Mum to buy me ‘Take On Me’ bw ‘Love Is Reason’ by A-Ha on 7″ from Woolworths in Godalming.

    I seem to remember that we bought the non picture cover version, because it was cheaper. (I might have made that up though. In my defence – I was six).

    Later that year, I got the LP, ‘Hunting High & Low’ for Christmas. That was my first LP too.

  29. cez August 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Im another 80’s teenager… My first record that motivated me to get out to the shops was talking heads, once in a lifetime. I remember the day well as a friend of mine wanted new order blue Monday but being a skin teenager wanted the 7 inch version which after hours of shopping we finally discovered didn’t exist!

  30. Snoopy September 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    My brother bought me ‘Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane’ by The Beatles for my 8th birthday in 1967 so that was the first ’45 I officially owned. The first record I bought myself was ‘My Name Is Jack’ by Manfred Mann the following year. Still have and love both records. The genesis of my 7″ ‘selection’ (I don’t like the term ‘collection’) was certainly those ex-jukebox records (with spiders!) – I used to get mine from a market stall called The Pop Inn and usually bought them before going to the Saturday afternoon kids disco at the Mecca Locarno. I began DJ-ing at the Lower School lunchtime discos in 1970 as I had the most records – loads of those 45s still have a 1B tutor-form sticker on them!

  31. Snoopy October 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Having just watched the Magical Mystery Tour, it dawned on me that the above cannot be true! My first record must have been the MMT double EP. My Mum and Dad had just bought our first stereo radiogram. I remember buying the record from Woolworth’s for 19/-6d and lying down on the floor in between the speakers on the radiogram so I could hear the stereo. I recall watching Crackerjack afterwards and then going back to playing the records. It was disappointing that I only got to see the original TV show in black & white as the pictures in the booklet were all in colour. It was great to see it in its colourful glory. And the songs are still fantastic.

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