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Paul McCartney has offered his support to high street record shops ahead of a signing session taking place at HMV’s newly re-opened flagship store in London on Friday (October 18).
McCartney is signing copies of his latest album ‘New’ from 3pm on Friday (October 18) on a first come, first served basis at the store at 363 Oxford Street – the site of the shop in which The Beatles recorded the demo which led to them signing to Parlophone Records in 1961.
Speaking to NME ahead of the signing, McCartney declared himself a big fan of high street record shops: “I love record stores and wish they could stay open forever,” he said. “There’s a romance to them and it’s a pity whenever any record store closes, though I realise it’s inevitable in the download age.”
Although looking forward to signing his album, which is behind John Newman’s ‘Tribute’ in the midweek album charts, McCartney also hit out at professional autograph hunters: “Signing sessions are nice, as they’re for real fans. Normally when I get asked to sign stuff these days, it’s for what my team call ‘bounty hunters’ – middle-aged guys who all carry vinyl covers of ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Sgt Pepper’s…’. I’ll say to them, ‘Oh, you play the vinyl all the time, do you?’, because I know they’re just going to put them straight on eBay. Meeting people who actually like what I do is much nicer.”
Of his own record shop memories, McCartney said: “They felt really luxurious when I was growing up, that idea of being able to hear a record in listening booths by yourself. You’d pretend you were going to buy a record, then say ‘Nah, I don’t want it’, even though you’d secretly written down the words to the song you’d just listened to. The first record I bought was ‘Be Bop A Lula’ by Gene Vincent from Currys in Liverpool, and record shops were magical places. They still are magical, and I was really interested when my manager told me just last week that 80 per cent of album sales are still on CD. So it seems people do still want to buy physical records from high street record shops.”
Despite his love of record shops, McCartney admitted he had no memory of The Beatles recording their seminal demo at the HMV store, which has a blue plaque commemorating the occasion, unveiled by Beatles producer George Martin in 2000. He said: “I hate to say it, but I really don’t remember us recording there. From what I recall, our first demo was cut at Decca’s offices, then at Abbey Road. Someone else has suggested that the Oxford Street site is where George Martin was introduced to Brian Epstein, so it seems as if the place was of some importance, but I really don’t recall. These stories get confused over time.”
McCartney added he frequently shopped at the store when The Beatles first moved to London. He said: “It’s got a lot of great memories, and it’ll be nice to go back there. One of ‘New”s producers, Ethan Johns, has been touring at record shops to perform his own fantastic album ‘If Not Now Then When?’, and that’s a great way of drawing attention to the stores.”
HMV’s store at 363 Oxford Street closed in 2000 to move to nearby premises also on Oxford Street, but re-opened at its original home last month. The store was first opened by classical composer Edward Elgar in 1921.