- Associated Press - Saturday, August 5, 2017

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - Weird Harold’s in Burlington has been selling music since 1972, and a good portion of that has been classic rock from the 1960s.

“We would have bands come into the store and take pictures and sign autographs, but you don’t see a lot of that anymore,” said Weird Harold’s owner Danny Bessine.

Ironically enough, Bessine, 69, didn’t listen to a lot of music during the 1960s. He was in high school at the time, and had a lot of other things on his mind. But music is unavoidable at any age, and he remembers the soundtrack to his teenage life.

“I listened to The Beatles, and the Bee Gees were another big one I listened to,” he told The Hawk Eye .

Bessine opened Weird Harold’s not because he was a music buff, but because he saw a need. Burlington only had one music store at the time, and 8-track tapes were all the rage. It was an easy way to listen not only to current music, but beloved tunes from the decades prior.

Music has filled Bessine’s ears at work every day, igniting a passion for the medium that continues to burn.

“We played music in the store, all day, every day, which we still do,” he said. “Pretty much straight ahead rock and roll is what I like.”

Bessine feared the demise of record stores when digital music started replacing CDs in the early 2000s, but a funny thing happened a few years ago. Vinyl became cool again, and ‘60s music - along with other decades of classic rock - was in high demand.

“I would have never expected it, this whole retro thing that’s going on. Retro clothes, retro furniture,” Bessine said.

The recent vinyl craze is a resurrection of the glory days of rock and roll that stretches from the early ‘60s to the early ‘80s. Bessine sells CDs as well, but the demand for those plummeted with the advent of digital music. He keeps about 5,000 full-size records in stock, but that doesn’t count the smaller 45 rpm records, or his own collection.

The demographic of regular customers has flipped since Bessine opened Weird Harold’s 45 years ago.

“At the time, 8-track tapes were the big thing. Everyone had 8-track players in their cars, and it was young people driving their cars buying music. Now it’s just the opposite,” Bessine said with a grin.

By “opposite,” Bessine means people around his age. The baby boomers and the generations around them that grew up on ‘60s artists such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

Sadly, Bessine doesn’t see the resurgence lasting. He thinks it a fad, but it’s one he’s happy to ride. After all, it doesn’t get any better than selling genuine vinyl to genuine music lovers.

“Some music fans come in every week. Music is important in everyone’s life,” Bessine said. “At a certain age, about middle age up, I know most of them.”


Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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