By David Humphrey
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — Long before the existence of the iPod or MP3 players, phonograph albums and 45s were the way to listen to music in the comfort of your home.
At one time, the city of Anderson had a variety of record stores that sold the latest hits from rock 'n' roll, soul, pop, country, and gospel recording artists. For over 50 years, faithful customers kept local stores in business before bidding farewell to their beloved vinyl.
Perhaps the most popular record store of all was Joe's Record Shop. Located on Meridian Street in downtown Anderson, Joe's (as regular customers called it) sold not only records but an array of instruments to aspiring rock 'n' rollers or the already classically trained musicians.
Joe's kept a vast inventory of guitars, amplifiers, and drums, plus hundreds, if not thousands, of albums and 45s. Customers looking to buy records were allowed to listen to the product on a turntable before purchase. And it was the same with instruments. Jam sessions took place in the music department where guitarists plugged a new Fender Telecaster or Gibson Les Paul into a Vox amplifier to emulate Keith Richards' classic intro to "Satisfaction" or George Harrison's defining work on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
During the 1960s, on any given Saturday afternoon, downtown Anderson was abuzz with local teens. After catching a movie at the Paramount, State, or Riviera Theatre, it was off to Joe's Record Shop to see what new discs were in stock.
Owner Joe Pike was a well-loved and respected man who became as iconic as his record store itself. From his humble beginnings at Music Treasures, Pike operated one of the most successful downtown businesses for over 40 years.
Originally, Joe's was at the corner of 13th and Meridian before moving to the vacated Montgomery Ward's building just north of the State Theatre. (Montgomery Ward's found a home at the newly-opened Mounds Mall in the mid-1960s).
The record department was on the main floor of Joe's with instruments displayed in an adjacent room and upstairs. Sheet music, song books, drum sticks, guitar straps and guitar picks made Joe's a one-stop shopping trip for Anderson area musicians. Pike displayed newly-released albums in his storefront window as well as posters featuring the top-selling recording artists of the day.
Gaither shopped at Joe's
Though he enjoyed rock 'n' roll but was not a huge fan like his teenage peers, Bill Gaither relied on Joe Pike to keep his favorite gospel records in stock. If Gaither wanted a recording that was not in an album bin, Pike would place a special order for him. Listening to all of that gospel did the Alexandria teen good. Gaither is one of the biggest names in gospel selling millions of records while collecting several Grammy and Dove Awards.
Joe's Record Shop first opened its doors in 1945 and later became known as Music Today. Prior to Joe's Record Shop, Pike owned and operated the Music and Hobby Shop and Morgan's Music Store. The well-liked record store owner passed away in 2009 at the age of 88.
Not far from Joe's Record Shop was the Hi-Fi Shop. Like Joe's, the Hi-Fi Shop sold 45-rpm singles and LPs (long playing albums).
During the 1970s, record stores began to open outside the downtown area. Journey's End, Uncle Waldo's Album Exchange, Record Haven,Stone Henge, A-1 Records, Musicland, Record Mart, and Sun Records continued to sell vinyl but added eight-track tapes, cassettes, and eventually CDs to their inventory.
Sun Records, located near Madison Avenue and 38th Street, later became known as Karma Records and relocated to the Applewood Centre. In its heyday, Sun Records was the site of music fans camping out all night for concert tickets. Being that Pizza King and a Sear's Liquor Store were within walking distance of Sun Records made waiting in line for 12 hours a little more enjoyable for some.
When tickets for the January 1985 Bruce Springsteen concert at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis went on sale in December, fans lined the street from 38th and Madison to South Drive. Sun Records owners Steve Holder and Steve Butler ultimately went to the lottery system, passing out numbers to concertgoers one day prior to ticket sales.
Karma Records and Sam Goody's at the Mounds Mall withstood the onslaught of music downloading through the early 2000s. Both stores closed their doors for good less than a decade ago.The building that once housed Joe's Record Shop is now the site of Lambert's Music Center. The record bins, guitars and amplifiers are long gone, but the floors at Lambert's Music Center still creak as they did years ago when Joe Pike was the king of vinyl.