Record Store Day Ambassador 2016: Metallica


For reasons Iíll never quite understand, the rock department at Bristol Music Center was in the basement of the four-story store, but walking in there felt like the ultimate rush. I never knew what was going to await me. I never knew what newfound gem was going to be blaring out of the speakers. All I knew was that†something incredible would happen, because it always did. It was all about the possibilities and the possibilities were infinite. Like a kid in a candy store, except my version of that was...a kid in a record store.

From the mid '70s to the early '80s, the rock department at Bristol Music Center in Copenhagen, Denmark was the most significant part of my life outside school and family, and probably often tied right in there with both. My dad had started taking me there as early as I could remember, and the early excursions felt like going to another world. Growing up I thought my dad was the coolest guy, and no place was more 'next level' than his music room in our pad, which housed one of the vastest record collections around town in the 60s. Going up to that hang space on the top floor was actually like going to a record store in itself. There were thousands of records, scattered all over - in the racks, on the furniture, on the shelves, next to the record player. Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin....the list is endless. And after my dad dragged me to see Deep Purple in 1973, I acquired the Fireball album the next day, and began attempting to amass a collection worthy of my fatherís.

Ken and Ole, who were the guys responsible for the rock department at Bristol, were my heroes. Whatever they recommended instantly became a must have. In 1979 when I got invited back to Kenís apartment to check out his personal record collection, it was one of the most exciting things in my life. Period. After I moved to the United States in the early '80s they became my lifeline to European hard rock, and the packages they would send me on a monthly basis were the most invigorating, life-affirming elements that showed up in my mailbox. I would sit for hours with my records; listening, looking, imagining, transporting myself to some other dimension, as the music enveloped me and carried me as far away as my imagination was capable of taking me. And the covers! Those record sleeves kept me fixated on the bands, musicians, lyrics and imagery being thrown in my direction. I kept logs over what records I would listen to, and how many times I would listen to them. In other words, I was obsessed. I lived and breathed in a record universe, day in, day out.

Boy, do I miss those days!

As times have changed, records unfortunately play a significantly different role in most young peopleís lives and have primarily become a niche entity. But there are signs of hope. My seventeen-year-old asked for a record player for his birthday two years ago, and I have been steadily doing my best due diligence as a parent, feeding him the classics since then. This process reached its emotional peak (and I even got misty-eyed!) when he put Deep Purpleís Machine Head and Made in Japan on his latest Christmas wish-list, in good old vinyl format. What a moment! Maybe it all will work out after all....

As music becomes available either through only the internet or in gigantic airport-size retail stores, it is more important than ever - actually vital - that all us fanatics continue to bring to light the importance of records, and to support to the maximum of our abilities the independent record store outlet. The good news is, of course, that vinyl is making a measurable comeback. But that is not enough for us to rest on our laurels. We must all bond continuously together and scream from every rooftop with our loudest voices, enlighten our kids, fly the flag, and beat the drum (!) to the best of our ability.

For music.

For vinyl.

For independent record stores.

For people like you and me who live and breathe music twenty-four hours a day.

By the way, Iím still wondering why the rock department was in the basement of the Bristol Music Center. Of course the cynical side of me wonders if it has anything to do with the fact that rock somehow is perceived by self-appointed musical purists as a lesser form of music? Donít even get me started on that one! Right now, let's focus on having a Record Store with a basement to whine about in the first place and maybe we will finish that conversation some other day...

Lars Ulrich