By Paul Kennedy
Greg Loescher was first smitten spinning 45s while growing up in Appleton, Wis., a picturesque community at the heart of the Fox River Valley, just beyond the shadows of Lambeau Field in nearby Green Bay.
Loescher’s love affair with music evolved as he moved from peddling weekly shoppers in his neighborhood to becoming Publisher of Goldmine magazine in the 1990s. Now retired, Loescher played an instrumental role in the establishment of the first Goldmine Record Album Price Guide 20 years ago.
The incomparable Tim Neely, a record-collecting savant, spearheaded that first Goldmine Record Album Price Guide. Loescher’s hiring of Neely and his exhaustive understanding of all-things vinyl set the foundation for the longest running album price guide on the market. Neely’s first effort featured 40,000 records. By comparison, the new edition boasts 110,000 records.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of that first guide, Loescher carved out some time from his busy life to discuss record collecting, building a legacy and the simple pleasures found in music.
Goldmine: How long did it take you and your team – Tim Neely, being the main guy back then – to establish a database that allowed you to create a book?
Greg Loescher: To be honest, I can’t recall the exact time frame from when we hired Tim and when the first album guide came out. As you know, it’s an ongoing process to keep the database up-to-date, same as in Krause’s other collecting areas.
Even before we hired Tim to work on the album guide, we were also looking at other price guides, such as for jazz, country, and R&B records – all of which were eventually published, along with a few others such as comedy and Christmas records. This type of branching out was a Krause staple: build up the database for the main book (which eventually for records turned into the Standard Catalog of American Records), and then spin off guides into more specific areas.
We needed to have someone in-house who had a strong collecting background to develop the database. When I started interviewing, Tim Neely was the obvious hire. He is amazing – a walking encyclopedia of music information. It was impossible to stump him. Tim was definitely the right person for the job at that time.
Good to see prolific Goldmine writer Dave Thompson carrying on the duties.
I went into a local used/new book and record store recently to purchase a CD for one of my brothers. A woman much younger than me walked up to the register with about a dozen used albums. Even though I have a record collection, I felt like I was behind the technology buying that CD!
GM: Do you still have your vinyl? And if so, do you have any favorites in your collection?
GL: Yes I do! Including some albums from my youth. I sold off my 45s and picture sleeves, which wasn’t a whole lot, a few years after I retired from Goldmine. 45s are what got me into music, but albums really became a focal point in the 1980s, especially as I branched out from rock music into jazz, blues and other genres. I just enjoyed the longer songs more than the two- or three-minute hit singles.
The song that really did it for me while a teenager spinning 45s was The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” I had the single, then decided to buy The Doors debut album, which had a longer version of that song. Hearing the extended guitar solo by Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek’s full-blown keyboard section really got me into albums. There was just more intricacy in an album’s song offerings.
While I don’t purchase records as often as I used to, I still get new albums from time to time. So the record collection is still growing but at glacial speed. My CD collection continues to dwindle – my new Jeep doesn’t have a CD player, just Sirius Radio. Sirius has its good and bad points. But I still switch channels as often as I would a regular car radio!
As far as favorite albums, that’s hard to say. Like I’ve been doing with my CD collection, I listen to my record collection alphabetically by genre, and weed out recordings I really don’t want anymore. Lots of CDs have gone, but few albums leave the house. The usual suspects I enjoy are The Byrds (and its various band member spinoffs), The Beatles, Allman Brothers, Yardbirds, John Mayall, Yes, Strawbs, Jean-Luc Ponty, Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, Steely Dan, Nils Lofgren, plus lots of other classic rock, jazz, world music and blues.
And pick up the latest Record Album Price Guide by Goldmine, the 10th Edition. Sold at book stores everywhere or go to www.Krause.com to order.