About Tallbird

Give us the background... when and why did you decide to open a record shop?
When I hit 50 and realised that there must be more to life than being a stay at home mum, a role I'd enjoyed for the previous dozen or so years but turning 50 seemed like the right time for a change and a challenge. I'd had a career with Virgin Megastores and Cinemas, but prior to that I'd worked in record shops, namely Richard's Records in Canterbury and Beggars Banquet in Kingston, and looked back at those days as the most enjoyable of my working years. Chesterfield had recently lost its two record/music shops - Hudsons and HMV - and so I found myself living in a town with nowhere at all to buy records or CDs. Something had to be done about it, and that's why I opened Tallbird Records, it was an act of extreme selflessness and bravery on my part obviously - ! But seriously, who doesn't want to own and work in a record shop? It's the best job in the world (most of the time).

The shop is small but perfectly formed (I like to think) and caters to most tastes.  We're definitely not cool OR trendy - I did vow prior to opening the shop in an interview with the local paper that I would stock most things but would draw the line at Celine Dion - it was a joke, but actually I don't think we've ever had any of her records on sale (maybe a second-hand CD - shhh.)  We sell new and used vinyl and CDs, turntables, books and magazines and various gift items.  Most of our customers are chaps of a certain age re-living their youth and looking for that obscure Prog release on the Vertigo swirl label that they once owned 100 years ago, or who are treating themselves to brand new 180g Pink Floyd reissues, but we do cater to a younger customer base too, though I sometimes find it hard to keep up with the huge number of releases by new acts, and am often caught out - "have you got the new one by Joanna Gruesome?" "Yes, here we are" (hands over copy of the Joanna Newsom album) - perhaps I just play my music too loud... Anyway, I have a young(ish) team of part-time staff, Sam, Simon and Lily who keep me abreast of the latest developments in the Hit Parade.

The first record shop I used to visit was in a shopping mall above a supermarket in Kuala Lumpur where I grew up.  I used to deliberately lose my mother to go and spend time in there browsing the racks which were like leaves in a very tall book that you flicked through with the record sleeve slotted into them.  I would be mesmerised be the covers (early/mid 70s rock albums mainly) and dream of owning them, or even owning just one of them.  My dream eventually came true when I was bought a copy of” Night At The Opera" by Queen for Christmas 1976.  The first single I ever bought with my own pocket money was "My Friend Stan" by Slade.

Wherever I go I always make a beeline for the local record shop.  I don't have a favourite but I do get Record Shop Envy when I go into a particularly nice one and wish my shop was more like it - for example Rise Records in Bristol and Left For Dead when it was in Birmingham (haven't yet visited the new one in Shrewsbury but I'm sure it's equally as brilliant).  The shop that really inspired me to open my own was David's in Letchworth - we were staying with friends locally, visited the shop (which is great too btw) and I got chatting to the guy behind the counter who was very positive and encouraging and I guess I made up my mind there and then to stop talking about it and actually do it.  Open a shop of my own, that is.  So thanks David's! 

Captain Sensible came in one cold weekday afternoon in December, looked through my Prog Rock section but didn't buy anything.  He was very chatty and pleasant though, and did a great gig with the Damned later that evening.  Apart from him I sometimes have Tom Bailey from the Thompson Twins and Marco from Adam and the Ants poppinig in, also the most charming and lovely Ashley Hutchings, founder member of Fairport Convention and all-round top bloke - he comes in a lot and has brought his son Blair Dunlop in too, once or twice.  I'm still waiting for my first instore PA, but we did do a free live event at a local venue a couple of years ago, at which Ashley compered, and several local acts appeared.

Prince, on the Lovesexy Tour at Wembley Arena, in 1988 (I think...)

1984 - George Orwell


Dionne Warwick "This Girl's In Love With You", Beatles "Day In a Life", David Bowie "Heroes"

Blondie, Beatles, Bowie, basically any other acts beginning with B - it's the best letter in the rock & pop alphabet: Beach Boys, James Brown, Kate Bush, Bananarama....

"Parallel Lines" by Blondie