To Be Frank - Don’t go breaking my 78

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Ah, what a treasure chest of memories I unlocked when I asked you to tell me about the first record you bought! And in one case, a tragic tale of heartbreak (with a happy ending!).

Joy Pearce of Dersingham e-mailed to say hers was Idle On Parade, by Anthony Newley. She confessed: “I had seen the film (of the same name), and as a teenager I fell in love with him!!!!”

She added: “It was an EP, and cost 11 shillings and sixpence, and was bought in Richards, our local electrical shop in Cranford, Middlesex, where I used to live.”

Ah, the price of love, eh? Oh sorry – that was the Everley Brothers. Joy also said: “My brother’s first record was a 78rpm, The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise, by Les Paul And Mary Ford, circa 1952 – and he still has it.”

Brian Baylis, now a parish councillor at Wimbotsham, wrote to tell me of when he was but a lad with high hopes – which were dashed. “My first record was Rawhide, by Frankie Laine,” he said. “I bought it in Laindon High Road, Essex, then drove my family bonkers playing it, as it was the only one I had.”

I suspect you’re not alone, Brian. He added: “I had gone in to buy Frank Sinatra’s High Hopes, but the shop never had it.”

Jen Claydon ended her lovely e-mail with: “Love your column” – so she can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned.

She wrote: “I was nine years old, we had no record player, and it was my sole aim in life to get one somehow. So when my grandparents offered their old wind-up, complete with horn – for free, of course – I grabbed it with open arms!

“Along with this monstrosity came some mighty ginormous His Master’s Voice 78s. Most were rubbish to my ears, but there was one I took a fancy to, and played over and over again, alone in my bedroom” (see, Brian? Told you you wouldn’t be alone in that!).

Jen continues: “It was called – prepare yourself – Where Does Daddy Go When He Goes Out (control yourself – I was only nine!). Anyway, one day my dad strolled in when I was then about to play it yet again, and at random picked up the top record on the pile – guess which one – and said, sympathetically: ‘These are flimsy old things – look how easily they snap in two!’

“Well, I cried and cried, and so to cut a long story short, mum made dad cough up the money to buy me a brand new modern record as compensation, or maybe just to shut me up.

“Off I went with my nine shillings and sixpence to Stebbings record/television shop in Downham, where we lived at the time, and proudly asked for – well I hardly dare confess this – The Garden Of Eden, by Frankie Vaughan. I thought he was fantastic, even if he was older than my dad.”

What a lovely story. And if anyone else has a first record story they’d like to share, feel free to e-mail me on: ... and the record doesn’t even have to be by someone called Frank!