Circa 1975, I was knee deep in albums. My Beatles obsession in full swing, I was ready to move forward. Mad Jim and I had still been making our regular trips to Record World all the way in Bayshore (a bit of a bike ride from East Islip).
Then one day, out of nowhere, we noticed a record store opened up in East Islip. Our town had a record store? It was a small store in a strip mall called Record Stop. Our aching pedaled feet were saved.
We went in and there he was. This skinny long haired freak, jumping up and down (a-la Townshend) playing this album called “Kiss Alive.” I had never heard of this band. The store was small, but there was an odd selection. Much odder than the usual top hits available at Record World. The skinny freak introduced himself as Jim Nipo and showed us the latest in new music. I was enthralled.
We now had a new home. Mad Jim and I not only bought all our records here, but it became a new hangout. True record enthusiasts visited. I have a vivid memory of a guy coming in the store on a horse and buying a copy of Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy.
Nipo knew more about music than either of us and introduced us to David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Velvet Underground, Sweet, etc.. The whole seedy underbelly of rock n roll was now there for the feeding. Once again, I ate like an animal. Nipo didn’t like an album, he lived it. Nobody could describe an album or an artist better than Nipo. You had no choice but to buy it.
I knew of David Bowie, from reading Circus magazine, and quite frankly, he scared me. He looked like a lady and I wasn’t sure what he was all about.
Nipo convinced me to try out an album called Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. I took it home, and it did two things. It cured my Beatles obsession (temporarily) and opened my ears to an entire new genre of music. I loved it. The whole glam sound was just pure fun. In usual fashion, I stocked up on the Bowie catalog.
As much as Ziggy is a classic, the one Bowie album that amazed me was Space Oddity. The sound, the music, the concept all clobbered me.
Space Oddity is a lushly produced masterpiece with complicated songs about everything from space travel to schitzophrenia to who knows. Bowie is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle. Most of the time I have no idea what the hell he is singing about and that’s only part of what makes him so interesting. Never afraid to fail and always testing boundries of rock n roll and music in general. A true artist in every sense of the word and I have so much respect for him it’s ridiculous.
Saw him live three times. One of those times is the best concert experience of my life and I will tell you about that on a future blog.
By the way, Nipo is a nickname for Jim Antonucci. I think the story goes something like how his nipples looked when he got out of a pool. Nipo will confirm this origin.
The East Islip location eventually closed, but we didn’t lose Nipo. He moved to the main store in Ronkonkoma. Thursday nights were the nights we all hung out. It was some of the greatest nights of my life with a bevy of bizarros that made me feel like the luckiest misfit on the planet.
My musical landscape increased 1000 fold. I can’t express enough how greatful I am to have had this place in my life.
God Bless Nipo, Iris, Bruce, Jimi LaLumia, Bill Kern, Michael Maccarrone, EARS, Ray, Matt, etc..and all the wackos I met there. You are all embedded in my memory, my heart and my soul forever.
I love you all….