history of rock on records!

Rock On opened for business in August 1971 operating out of a flea market at 93 Golborne Rd at the unfashionable end of London's Portobello Road market.

Ted Carroll, the proprietor was a rock'n'roll and blues fan who also co-managed Thin Lizzy and so the stall was only open at weekends.

Prior to opening day, stock consisted of a bunch of previously owned 45's, 78's and LPs that had been dredged up from thrift stores in the seedier parts of various cities in America, Ireland, England and Scotland. This was augmented by 1800 factory fresh London label 45s that were discovered in the loft of Thin Lizzy's Irish record distributors in Dublin a week before opening.
This haul, which was purchased by Ted at a knock-down price, was the end result of a week of cherry-picking through about 20,000 original '50's and '60's deleted London 45s.
The London label 45s put Rock On firmly on the map from day One as they included such rarities as 'All The Time' by Werly Fairburn modestly priced at £2 'Down Yonder We Go Ballin' by Smiley Lewis (£2) and 'Ballroom Baby' (£2) by Dick Lory, as well as dozens of copies of London releases by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Ray Sharpe, Rosie & The Originals, Rod Bernard, The Ronettes, Crystals, James Brown, Solomon Burke, Ike & Tina Turner, Love, The Turtles, The Association and The Critters

Within a week of opening, Ted would be greeted by a queue of expectant customers each morning as he arrived to open for business. He soon noticed that his customers included such 'faces' as Jimmy Page, Lemmy from Hawkwind, ex-Pretty Thing Twink and many other denizens of the Rock World, all of whom rubbed shoulders nonchalantly with mini-bus loads of Welsh teddy boys and aging French 'Blouson Noir'.

Brian Eno came by to check the place out, but didn't buy anything, Lenny Kay was intrigued and delighted to purchase a copy of his Link Cromwell 'Crazy like a Fox' single on London in the punk rock section for 40p. Joe Strummer spent the summer of '72 vainly searching for an original 45 of 'Junco Partner'. Malcolm McLaren purchased wholesale quantities of US rock'n'roll reissues for his Let It Rock boutique in the Kings Road, Jimmy Page came by to fill gaps in his collection of Sun 45s and Phil Lynott after a visit, wrote about Rock On in 'The Rocker'. In 1974 Malcolm McLaren would drop by regularly with Paul Cook and Steve Jones looking for material for their new group and would buy Yardbirds, Animals and Monkees 45s. By now Rock On was becoming a tourist attraction having been featured in several write ups in the Music Papers.
Other customers over the years have included Bob Dylan, and various members of The Cramps, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Los Lobos, Sir Douglas Quintet, Madness, The Clash, The Human League, Primal Scream, The Rockingbirds, The Gorillas, The Fall to drop just a few names.

In 1974 a second location was added in the open air market in Soho's Chinatown and regulars there included a young office worker from the city, Shane MacGowan who dribbled onto the 45s, also teenage Paul Weller who brought his group up from Woking one Saturday afternoon to play on the pavement outside the market stall.

1975 saw the mini empire expand with the opening of a third outlet in Camden Town. The opening party was attended by all of The Flaming Groovies and their manager Greg Shaw.

Meanwhile many interesting hauls of rare records continued to attract a steady flow of customers. 20,000 rare US 45s were purchased from Ace Records Boss Johnny Vincent in Jackson Mississippi in 1973. A huge haul of ultra rare 78's from a record store in Dublin in 1974, 15,000 mint UK 45s from a shop in Gibralter in 1976 and thousands of rare and unique picture sleeve 45s were smuggled out of Portugal in 1976 in the trunk of a 1951 Cadillac De Ville.

By this time Ted had started a record label Chiswick Records with two friends, Roger Armstrong and Trevor Churchill, who also worked at Rock On. Over the years Chiswick Records evolved into Ace Records, one of the World's leading reissue labels. This meant that Rock On had to take a back seat as attention focused on building up the record label. In 1996, 25 years after it had first opened its doors, Rock On closed for business. Rapidly elevating rents in Camden Town and competition from dozens of other collectors record shops and fairs took their toll and meant that the shop was forced to call it a day.

Now 8 years later we are still digging out goodies from our old stock that has been accumulated over 25 years and a virtual Rock On is serving a new generation of record collectors as well as many old friends via the magic of the internet . Despite a disasterous fire in 2003 which destroyed more than half of our warehouse and almost 70% of our stock, we still have thousands of collectible 45s / LPs / CDs/ 78s / cassettes and 8 tracks.

Welcome to Rock On!

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