When I asked Nathaniel Knox how many “sides” (LP’s) he had, he answered sixty, and I said “Wow!” He then said that was just a drop in the bucket. I was in the 10th or 11th grade and had perhaps twenty or so that I shared with my brother in our so-called collection.
My first record purchase was “Ray Charles at Newport.” I had a job cleaning two Mr. Softee ice cream trucks on the weekends for $24 a day and all I could eat. That Brother Ray jam set off a major riff between Ruby (my mother) and me. To this day, we do not see eye to eye about the “Genius of Ray Charles.” I was contributing $5 to the household from my earnings. She demanded another $5 because she said I was squandering my pay on the likes of “Baby Ray.”
At that time, Ray had one of the best bands in all the land. He was a rockin’ alto saxophonist and a pianist with a gospel core and the early vocal style of the great Nat King Cole, before he started to develop his unique soulful delivery hallmark sound.
His music motivated me to collect all the vinyls I came in contact with and could afford. Then came the other pursuits which were fed and nurtured with the help of my camera. Having a chance to take photos at various concerts and clubs got me more involved with the music and images. Bird (Charles Christopher Parker) was dead before both passions really took hold. So I had to focus on the next best “boppers.” Never having photographed Bird, I was influenced by Julian “Cannonball” Adderly, a Bird devotee, to take up the camera for the music I saw, to quote Roy DeCarava.
By the time I had my radio show (“Scenes in the City, with Professor Dred, playing for you the best in the idiom of modern music commonly called jazz!”), I had thousands of LP’s I could augment with the WCNI record library. My one and only musical giant interview was with the great George Russell who chastised me for not having his latest album. He autographed my prized classic LP “New York, New York,” as he lovingly tongue-lashed me for not looking back and keeping current.
Today, I added ten more vinyls to my collection from a local thrift store.
Barkley L. Hendricks
July 27, 2010
IMAGE: Photo of the artist with his record collection by Susan Hendricks.