This week we have a very special guest taking on the A's in our weekly DJ Q&A. It's Richard Vivian, the owner of over 60,000 45s, not counting the rows upon rows he sells in his store, the irreplaceable Rooky Ricardo's Records. That Lower Haight treasure trove specializes in original vinyl from the '60s and '70s, specifically R&B, funk, jazz, disco, blues, oldies, and a whole lotta soul ("Soul, Norther Soul, Modern Soul, Crossover Soul"). So when Vivian's asked to get behind the decks, as he will this weekend for the gigantic Sugar Shack "Battle of the '60s" party at the Paradise, he has plenty for your ears to feast upon. Check him out on Saturday night (where the party also features a full floor of French pop oldies), or at the Knockout for oldies night, or, of course, at Rooky's.
Name: Richard Vivian
When did you first start collecting 45s, and how many do you now estimate that you own? I started when I was ten. I bought "Blue Monday"
by Fats Domino and "Walking After Midnight" by Patsy Cline and have
about 60,000 45's if you don't count the store.
What's one piece of advice you can pass along about record collecting?
The most important thing, in my opinion, is to like what you like, pick
up things along the way, and don't analyze to death every record to
make sure it fits into what you're into at the moment. A well rounded
collection lets you grow into songs you may love in a month, and would
have missed the opportunity. And look in the cheap bins. You can find a
lot of great stuff.
Since you also run Rooky Ricardo's Records, how's the store doing these days? Is there a spike in people buying vinyl now that CDs are on the decline? Last year was by far my best.I have so many great regulars,
and new people everyday. I get stuff in all the time and the persistent
ones can be very lucky. I have four listening stations, and many CD buyers and back looking for the warmth of vinyl.
What can you tell us about the mix comps you sell in the store? I
have a mixture of soul, RB, girl groups, and pop CDs all from my 45s
that hopefully expands customers reality of what that time period was
really like, what what fell through the cracks.
Who has been the most memorable/famous visitor to your store? A number
of local artists have stumbled through:Roger Collins, Johnny
Morrisette, Richard "Dimples" Fields, Chris Isaac. Matt Dillon was
there one Sunday and some lady thought he was our turntable repair guy,
also named Matt.
Why do soul/girl group DJ nights do so well in San Francisco? What is it about that music that strikes such a chord with people who live
here? I think it creates a lot of camaraderie and allows people my age to
relate to the love of that genre that 20+ year olds have. They're like sponges. They want to
know more and play what they have found. Places like the Knockout on
Mission allow them to do that.
Favorite DJ experience: Recently it was at "Teenage Dance Craze" The
place was nuts. I used to have "Soul Kitchen" parties at the store,
which people still remember. We did 14 of them. It was a magical time.
Worst request: DJing at Nickie's next door to the store. I was in the
middle of an amazing set, and someone requested The Osmond Brothers. I
still remember what she looked like.
Most treasured vinyl score: There are too many to mention. Let's just say I'm very satisfied.
What other music-related projects are you currently working on? I'm
doing a little promotion for KOFY TV. They're thinking about
resurrecting the dance show Bijou and I used to be on.
Question we didn̓t ask you but you often ask yourself: How did I get to be so lucky to have a record shop in San Francisco?
Next time we can see you spin: Any day at the store.