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The Record Bar - Henderson Street

by Norman Hunter

I had the great good fortune of managing the Chapel Hill Record Bar on Henderson Street for approximately 2 ½ years between 1972 and 1974. Not only that, I lived less than a block from the store in a totally cool third floor apartment situated above the import store / head shop run by the legendary Kemp B. Nye. Just writing these words brings back a flood of memories.

My strongest memories of living above Kemp's are waking to the sounds of Indian music and the fragrance of incense burning in the court yard outside his shop. Kemp was truly a unique individual with a zest for life, and the ladies, that was a pleasure to behold. I have no idea how old he was, probably in his 50's, but I remember thinking of him as living proof that one can age without getting old.

It's been over five years since I've been back to "The Village", but I'm confident it has continued to drift away from those elements that made that nickname so appropriate. Back in the day before parking garages, strip centers, malls, and big box stores came to town, Chapel Hill was a small town oasis still reflecting the atmosphere and vibes of the 1960's.


Norman Hunter

By the way, my personal prejudices have always considered the 60's to be more about a state of mind and outlook than simply a decade with years numbered from 1960 – 1969. As a I contend that the 60's began with the Beatles first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show (February 9,1964) and ended with Richard Nixon's resignation (August 8,1974). For me this was the beginning and end of an incredibly optimistic time when anything seemed possible.

The music of this era was new and exciting, with vitality, creativity, and culture changing impact. This was a time when buying records (vinyl long players, 8-track tapes, and cassettes) was a central part of most college students' lives. There was no competition from video games, DVD's, or computer software to capture their attention, imagination, and disposable income.

As a , many of the store's regular visitors / customers were people who simply wanted to experience the pleasures of hanging out in a record store, listening to the latest releases, and visiting with like minded friends or strangers. And to this day, nothing has ever equaled the pleasure I felt when I was able to turn someone on to a new release or new artist, knowing I had provided some enjoyment for their lives.

At this point I feel compelled to mention the "Cosmic Goodies Rack" we had positioned at the front of the store that featured employee picks. It had twelve slots which contained a mix of new releases and overlooked "must haves". Nearly 35 years later it’s difficult to remember all the records that made the rack, but here are some of the ones that come to mind.

The Who Sell Out
David Bowie – Hunky Dory, Space Oddity, and Ziggy Stardust
Blue Oyster Cult – first album
Grin – first album and 1+1
Kinks – Muswell Hillbillies and Everybody’s In Showbiz
Asylum Choir 1 –featuring Leon Russell
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks – first album
Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Running the Record Bar gave me a fairly high profile around town which was nearly always a pleasant experience. However I do remember one time when it was a bit of a drag. It had to do with the pending, and long delayed, release of "Harvest", the follow-up to Neil Young's break through solo release "After The Gold Rush". People wanted this record!!

It got to the point where I couldn't take two steps out on the street without being stopped and asked when the album was coming out. With even this minor taste of public recognition I can certainly sympathize with real celebrities and the price they often pay in privacy lost. By the way, I still remember to this day that we sold 149 copies of the album on its first day of release.


Barrie Bergman - first Manager of the Chapel Hill Record Bar (His Dad started the company) 

Music has always played a central role in my life, and managing the Henderson Street Record Bar will always hold a special place in my heart; not only for the incredible music of that era but also for the people who frequented the store and shared their love of music with me.

Comment
 
 

Comments:

Betsy-Dawn Williams      11:27 AM Fri 7/10/2015

Does anyone know if Norman's MIDDLE name might have been "Sabert"??? and perhaps with a wife named Muriel?? because so, I think I have found him! Living in Canton, NC
 

BetsyDawn Williams      11:22 AM Fri 7/10/2015

Does anyone know if Norman Hunter's middle name was "Sabert"?? Because if it is, I think I've found him!
 

Elaine Weisman Dinerman      6:12 PM Fri 7/18/2014

Hi. I worked at the Record bar in '71-73 era. "Cosmic Normie". There was a fun crew there at the time & lots & lots of good tunes.

Rode my bike into work with my new puppie, Gwen in my backpack

Given time, think I could add a few other photos of those times

Hope you're well & happy Norman. You contributed to some of my happiest memories
 

Elaine Weisman Dinerman      6:11 PM Fri 7/18/2014

Hi. I worked at the Record bar in '71-73 era. "Cosmic Normie". There was a fun crew there at the time & lots & lots of good tunes.

Rode my bike into work with my new puppie, Gwen in my backpack

Given time, think I could add a few other photos of those times

Hope you're well & happy Norman. You contributed to some of my happiest memories
 

Scott Davis      1:25 PM Fri 12/13/2013

Nroman, I don't think we ever met in person unless at one of the conventions on Hiton Head, but you were already a ledgend when I started working in Record Bar # 58 in Pensacola in 1975. I was invited to come to the Chappel Hill store around 1978, which I did, those were the days. After that I was hooked on the job. My memories of working with Record Bar were some of the best times of my life. From walking on hot coals listening to calipso music, workig on and sometimes winning major record label display contests in the stores promoting new albums, the wild in store group apperances, the busy Christmas times wearing aprons like the good elves we were, to my last store Managing the Rthym and Views owned by Record Bar in Dallas in 1992. I spent 17 years roaming around the South managing Record Bars, meeting people, customers, empoyees who all loved music as much as I did. Record Bar was a home for so many Vinyl Junkies and I'm happy to have met so many of them during those crazy fun years at Record Bar.
 

Bill Joyner      9:48 AM Fri 10/11/2013

Ah yes! Henderson Street Record Bar! Had to be the "coolest spot" in town (1969) and had forgotten about Kemps and the smell of incense and beads hanging everywhere! Worked there (RB) for a couple of months before moving to help open and work the Charlotte store. The idea of working in a store that had SO many records was just awesome in the day, AND even get paid for it! Folk and Blues selection was too much. I also remember when "Budget Classics" were filed in numerical order by label using the Schwann catalog to help locate music for the classical customers! Many thanks also to the Bergman's for making the entire experience so special!! And Norman ... hope all is well with you sir! Regards, BJ
 

Bob Northcott      7:40 AM Fri 10/11/2013

Norman, I thoroughly enjoyed your musings. We did not meet until you were in Purchasing in the early 80s but I have many fond memories of you and everyone in the office. Espeically when you were the boots that Gene Simmons gave you. You were about 10 feet tall!
 

Tom Holloway      4:25 PM Thu 10/10/2013

Norman! My man! While working in the office in Durham, it was a true pleasure talking/working with Mr. Hunter. Also, I always had a great time talking hoops, UNC and The Real Carolina (USC). Rock on, Norman, rock on.
 

Cabell Smith      2:52 PM Thu 10/10/2013

Aah, my earliest memory of the Henderson Street Record Bar was in June of 1967, on the day "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released in the U.S. The folks in the store opened the windows, placed speakers outside and just played the album over and over. People came from all over downtown to hear this amazing music for the first time. Thanks to the Henderson Street Record Bar, it was a special, shared experience. Thanks, Norman. Also for the memories of Kemp's....
 

Nanci Gibbs (Senter)      2:38 PM Thu 10/10/2013

Norman-where are you???????
 

Andre Allen      12:55 PM Fri 11/4/2011

Norman where are you! Hope to here from you soon!
(Andre and Brett CIAmerica)
Andre@andreallenstudio.com
 

Amy Newman      11:30 AM Sat 10/29/2011

Hi! My name is Amy Newman. I was a student of Norman Hunter at a school called Career Institutes of America from 1990-1991. A lot of us have gotten back in touch including a few teachers and we have been trying to get in touch with Norman. Please e-mail me back if you know how to get in touch with him. I do.'t know if he realizes what an impact he had on our lives. He was one of our favorites! Hope to hear back. Thank you!
 

Fawn Primrose-Raines      11:19 AM Sat 10/29/2011

How would one get in contact with the illustrious Norman Hunter?
 

Larry Smith      6:40 PM Sat 6/11/2011

Norman,
I am flooded with memories at your story. We used to pick you up on Sat. am to go to Woollen to play basketball. You turned me on to a lot of new artists (BOC for one). You also had the fattest cats of anyone I have ever known. If you come back to read the comments, get in touch and I will fill you in on the Smith brothers. How is Zot?
 

Isaac Wallace      7:03 PM Fri 11/19/2010

Thanks Norman,what a great story.I was a young teenager in the early 70s and spent many afternoons wandering around Franklin St. I really enjoyed The Record Bar and all the great posters ,the one I remember was the huge Easy Rider poster of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper riding down the highway. The Budda in the room behind the doorway of beads down at Kemp's was always the highlight of my day,what great memories.
 

Steve Begor      1:34 PM Wed 7/7/2010

Norman where are you?
 

Bill Edwards      4:54 PM Thu 6/17/2010

OK. I found the photo of Jim Kuppers selling records. I'll shut up.
 

Bill Edwards      4:49 PM Thu 6/17/2010

One more comment (or a question). What the last name of the guy named Jim who bought and sold LPs on the street during the 70s?
 

Bill Edwards      4:46 PM Thu 6/17/2010

I worked at the RB in the new mall in Durham in 1975-76. My friend Mark Peel worked at the Henderson Street store.
 

Michelle      3:06 PM Tue 3/23/2010

Worked in this store as well during Joe Deese's reign. We were family friends of the Barrie and Arlene and the girls and I went on to work at 2 other stores during college. Miss it and Chapel Hill
 

Mary Williams      11:01 PM Sun 12/6/2009

Working for RB and having the pleasure of experiencing some of my career working with Norman was a time in my life I will always remember and cherish. If you don't know him, well lets just say you have missed out on quite a character! I think he can be classified as a hippie but also a very good business man. Always has an opinion and will tell you about it whether you wanted to hear it or not! :) A great ear for music and what was going to be a hit and what wasnt. One of my favorite memories of working with him was when we found out that the Flock of Seagulls were playing at Cameron Indoor right after they came on the scene. Well, that was just some great news to him and he came barreling out of his office and said... Oh my God, the Flock of ______ Seagulls are coming!!! We all had a good belly roll out of that because you just have to know him to understand how funny it was when came out of his southern mouth. Just working for RB brings back floods of memories to us all. That was 25+ years ago for me... I have never worked at any where that comes as close to being as FUN as working for Barry and Mr B's company was.
 

Charly Mann      3:51 PM Tue 3/17/2009

I must have spent a lot of time with Ann Croft without ever knowing it, since her favorite two hangouts were mine too.
 

Ann Croft      12:45 PM Tue 3/17/2009

The Record Bar and Kemps were two of my favorite after school hang outs during my junior high/ high school years late sixties/ early seventies in Chapel Hill.
 

HalatPlay      8:42 PM Mon 3/16/2009

Take me back to 1969 for the music and Hectors, which we all known was famous "since 1969". I think it was only separated from The Record Bar by one store.
 

Shannon Lake      5:07 PM Mon 3/16/2009

I now live in New Zealand. I was told there is only record store in downtown Chapel Hill today called Schoolkids.
When I was in college I think there were at least three; The Record Bar, Springfield Records, and The Record and Tape Center. They were all great stores, and all had very cheap prices.
 

Susan Chambers      1:51 PM Mon 3/16/2009

I love Chapel Hill Memories. Keep up the good work.
 

Evan James      12:23 PM Mon 3/16/2009

When did the Record Bar move to Franklin street, and when did that store close?
 

Morgan75      11:40 AM Mon 3/16/2009

I think HARVEST was a great album, and was worth the wait. I do not think the balance of Young's work since the release of that album, in 1972, come close to that quality.
 

Suze Bettis      10:10 AM Mon 3/16/2009

I had a boyfriend who worked at the Record Bar in the late 60s. I wish Mr Bergman would organize a reuion of employess of the Henderson Street store.
 

Aaron Gold      8:56 AM Mon 3/16/2009

Norman was a real character. I always thought of him as more "hippie" than business person. I'm glad he is still around.
 

Nanci Wainwright      9:25 PM Sun 3/15/2009

Isn't that mascot named Ralph?
 

Heather Snow      7:58 PM Sun 3/15/2009

I wasn't alive in the 1960's and 70's, so it is quite interesting to hear your perspective of what it was like living at that time in a town like Chapel Hill. I think I would have enjoyed hanging out at the Record Bar.

You say you consider the 60's a state of mind or outlook. Are there other decades that you would classify this way, and if so, how would you compare them to the 60's? Do you continue to live in a 60's state of mind?
 

Tom Barrett      7:24 PM Sun 3/15/2009

This was a great store. I started shopping there in 1964 when Barrie was the manager. He was a great guy, and always made an extra effort to get the kind of music I enjoyed.
 

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Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

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Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

Check out Charly Mann's other website:
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http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com

 



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There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.

 

 



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Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

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