WIth the rumored abandonment of CDs by the music industry, and after the closure of 60 of its stores at the start of 2011, it looks like the writing is on the wall for the British music retail giant HMV. The chain, the largest of its kind in the UK and which launched al the way back in 1921, announced on Monday that it will be selling off its Ritz chain of live venues, and Simon Fox, CEO of the company, has admitted that the 2011 Christmas season is make or break time for the brand.
The passing of HMV would truly be the end of an era, so what better time to take a look back at its glory days? In particular these photos from the retailer’s flagship store in London’s Oxford Street, taken in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and handily collected and posted in two different entries on the excellent Voices of East Anglia blog. The first of these entries was posted over the summer, and did the rounds back then, but the second entry is even better still.
I have mixed feelings about HMV - too many hours spent searching for music they would never stock and I would find more easily at an independent shop, versus occasionally finding incredible bargains on “unwanted” releases lurking in the discount bins (and sometimes a good pop album on sale for less than any other shop.) But looking at these photos, and the clothes, hairstyles, design and records, the viewer is reminded not just that this is an era long gong, but that it was also a golden age of physical music retailing, the like of which we will never see again.
I don’t think records or record shops are ever going to go away - downsized for sure, but not extinct. However it’s unlikely we will see this much flash (and cash) invested in the humble vinyl emporium ever again:
See more fantastic pictures of HMV at Voices of East Anglia - part one and part two.