Bleecker Bob’s Records

“Robert Plotnik, a lapsed lawyer better known as the namesake of Bleecker Bob’s Records, a Greenwich Village vinyl mecca that survived the dawning of cassettes, CDs and downloading and the death of CBGB, the nearby club where punk rock was cradled, died on Thursday in Manhattan. … It was also where a customer named Patti Smith met a record salesman named Lenny Kaye more than 40 years ago and invited him to accompany her on guitar at a poetry reading. He’s been accompanying her ever since. ‘Bleecker Bob’s is a perfect example of the funky, idiosyncratic little Greenwich Village institutions that had enormous impacts on culture in the 1960s and ’70s,’ John Strausbaugh, the author of ‘The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues’, said in an email. ‘The dank basement clubs where Dylan and Hendrix were discovered, the tiny storefront theaters that nurtured Off and off-off-Broadway theater, and in this case the used record store where punk rock was born.’ For nearly 50 years, until it closed in 2013, the business that Mr. Plotnik began with a fellow record collector, Al Trommers, drew rock fans and performers to its quirky selection. And although it originally specialized in oldies, it soon switched its focus to the cutting edge, helping to popularize emerging musicians by sales and by word of mouth. ‘Without him it’s unlikely there would be the Ramones, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, New York Dolls, so many acts now so well established in the music firmament but 40 years ago just whispers,’ the critic Roger Friedman wrote on the website Showbiz411. ‘CBGB’s and the Mudd Club were where you heard the music, but Bleecker Bob’s was where you held, felt it, saw it, listened to it, bought it.’ … ‘Robert Plotnik does not sound like a hip name for a hip record store, Mr. Trommers recalled in ‘For the Records,’ a 2012 documentary about the store directed by Hazel Sheffield and Emily Judem. What became Bleecker Bob’s Golden Oldies later moved to Macdougal Street and then, in 1981, after Mr. Trommers left the business, to 118 West Third Street, the former home of the popular 1960s nightclub the Night Owl Cafe. Sandwiched between a pizzeria and a walk-in psychic, the store had an inventory that included thousands of albums and singles jammed into countertop compartments, as well as posters and other memorabilia and a collection of clocks. It also had creaky wooden floors and an antediluvian cash register, suggesting that the merchandise was not the only thing stuck in the 1960s. Not Mr. Plotnik, though. …”
NY Times: Robert Plotnik, ‘Bleecker Bob’ of Record-Store Fame, Dies at 75 (Dec. 2018)
Long and Winding and Road Ends for Bleecker Bob’s
Broken Records: The Final Days of Bleecker Bob’s Golden Oldies (April 2013)
W – Robert Plotnik
vimeo: For the Records

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