This past week, a lot of us who grew up with the music of the Beatles and John Lennon have been looking back and remembering just where we were on that night some thirty years ago when we first heard the news that forever changed history and our lives.
Like JFK and Elvis before him, John Lennon's death was a snapshot in time we will never forget.
Okay, so here we go.
On the night of December 8, 1980 — which I want to say was a Monday — I was attending the annual Christmas party hosted every year by and for the Seattle retail music business community, in celebration of a job mostly well done. Business overall was still mostly down at the time, but hey, party on, right?
Since the local retail music community in Seattle (and indeed nationwide) had experienced something of a downturn in recent years back then — this particular party took place during the post-disco, pre-MTV netherworld of diminished record sales that was 1980 after all — most of the local music retail hacks (including yours truly) in attendance that night were simply grateful the beer and grub were once again flowing freely, and that the locale that year was the fairly upscale Butcher Atrium.
The years immediately previous to this had seen the annual music industry Christmas soiree go from full-on five course meals at Andy's Diner, to pizza and beer (requiring a drink ticket) at the lowly Ballard Firehouse. Talk about your buzzkills.
Needless to say, it was certainly a long way from the glory days of the mid-seventies — when the mega-hits of folks like Fleetwood Mac, the Bee Gees and Journey (much as us hardcore record store geeks loved to bitch about them) — had afforded us underpaid counter jockeys a fleeting glimpse at such true rock star opulence.
The fact that for the first time in a few years, we didn't have to pimp the local record label reps for drink tickets on this particular night was certainly a sign that good times were indeed upon us once again.
Whatever the case, spirits were once again flying high that night when Ed Richter — the Seattle record distributor who did his best to keep this local music industry tradition alive in both good times and bad (thanks, Ed) — dutifully put on his Santa outfit and proceeded to dole out all of the "gifts" supposedly determined by the raffle tickets all of us retail record geeks had received at the door. Yeah, right.