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A1 RecordsEstablished 1912 Music trade ended 1999 (shop Closed 2008) A1 was a family run shop by three generations serving the Walworth area. General record store with Lighting accessories and cards. Specialist in easy listing. The main shop was on the Walworth Road SE1 with smaller unit in East Street market and a Sunday market stall. The other branch was in Tottenham High Road N17. The East Street and Tottenham shops where also known for R & B, Soul and Ska & Reggae specialists. Another family member Bernie was the man on ball with the latest sounds supplied to the punter seeking latest R&B and Ska Reggae

Interview Anecdote:
I asked Melvyn which record he recalled sold in volumes in its day?

"When the New Seekers brought out 'I'd like to teach the world to sing'.
We had delivery of 100 a copies some I sent round the corner to the Walworth Rd shop. My cousin rang me up at the East Street Store part way through the morning said that he needed more. "

Melvyn Samuels shop proprietor.

Shop record label
A 1 record label also with a roster which included the launching of the Gypsy Kings
with 'Bamboleo'. Other artists included Rosie-marie Irish country singer, Jimmy Roselli,Steve Walsh 'I found lovin', Joe Longthorne and the Cell Block H theme song. Raymond who ran the label also brought us the Tweets with the 'Birdie Song'.
Famous Associations
Perry Como, Pete Moore, Charlie Gillett, Dennis Waterman, Pete Waterman, Scott Walker, Andy Williams and Neil Sedaka
Spencer Davis Group, The Cheetahs and March Bolan/Johns Children. These stars either did a record signing/promotion, shopped in the Store especially Mark Bolan in the Tottenham branch. Radio presenter Danny Baker was a regular customer.

Jeff DexterWell, we never really had a record player. But the first record I ever bought was Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford. I just thought it was the coolest song, and I bought it in East Street Market from A1 Records stall and I walked home with it under my arms singing it, thinking I was this big country person digging in the mines. This was 1955 or 56, I think. It was a 78. Not many people had record players to play 45s in those days. I had two friends who lived locally who had gramophones so I could go and play it there

There was a very good shop on Holloway Rd called A1 Records. I bought Davy Graham LP on Golden Guinea for £1 in which I kept the sticker.
Comment: Deepinder Cheema 45 cat forum

My grandmother lived in Camberwell, and one of her lodgers bought many records from the A1 store. I acquired some of them in time, and still have them, with the A1 rubber stamp on them.
Mainly operettas and musicals. I went down the Walworth Road when I worked at the Elephant in the noughties, but A1 Stores had gone by then.

I just want to say I worked at A1 record store in 1974 -75 with Doreen Kim and his sister I think her name was Karen great work ethic Bernie installed in us and such a great dude as well i remember he used to get a stack of records first thing on Monday mornig and the speaker was outside playing thanks for the memorie sir and to your Dad god bless. Comment Michael Taylor

(Mar 29, 2015) June bridle said:Worked at the A1 stores for many years with my now husband. We both have the fondest memories of a great family run business. Best shop in the world. Loving the photos.

(May 3, 2014) Jonathan said:My grandmother married into the AI founder in 1949 after which the whole family became close to my mum and dad until the end of the lives of the all that second generation

(Mar 12, 2014) Terry bromfield said:What great photos I use to work with Ray Levy when A1 supplied 7 inch singles to clubs and amusement arcade jukeboxes

(June 18, 2013) sandy said:I use to have to ask a member of staff to put on a record of my choice , i then went to the booth and listened before i purchased , or most people just came in to hear their favourite record.
I never knew i would find A1 Stores on line , i have just sold my 3 tier center light at a boot sale which i purchased in 1979, which cost £30 , I still have 1,600 singles 78,s EP,s LP,s , between me & my cousin we bought a single record every week , those were the days for me ........i loved the A1 Stores ..

(Apr 12, 2012) Brian Keen said:The Love Affair were another band who regularly came into the Tottenham Store

(September 30th) Sorry to report the passing of the wonderful Bernie Simons who ran the Tottenham shop until it closed and then took over the running of the record department with Melvyn in the Walworth Road. Comment: Mike Howell.

( November 27, 2015) Sorry to here about Bernie lovely man my condlonse to all the family. Comment: Pàul Maloney.

( Jan 27, 2015) In the 60s-70s I had a Philips record player in my car that only took records with the big center juke box type hole ! But Melvyn had the machine to knock it out for me even if I had bought elsewhere ! Smashing staff and great times ROY MILLER

( Feb 25, 2016) Still have some A.1. Stores plastic and paper bags and record sleeves even price labels bought a lot of records in the 1980s-1990s at the walworth road and east street shops but could not remember about the Sunday market stall .good days sadly missed. Comment: John Green.

I use to get the bus from Battersea every sunday to East Street Market to shop at the A1 Stall. I remember buying You really got me by The Kinks there. The deep pink Pye label!
Terry Redpath

Thank you for all the posts great memories wished I had kept all my records
Jeannette Elliott

Voted best record shop in London on Robert elms RADIO show today MUZEL TOV.

In the 70's, I worked for a amusement machine co in Clapham, called Tavern Automatics. A.1. stores was our supplier for records for our juke boxes. The service was amazing and they were very helpful. I have very happy memories dealing with them.
David McConnell

My copy of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers "A Hard Road" (mono, with Peter Green) originally came from A1 on Tottenham High Road, & has the two colour ink stamp on the rear. At some point it made its way north, where i bought it at a car boot sale in the early 90s. Love the way music travels!
Jon Collingwood

I was just thinking of the A1 Record Shop in Tottenham, I think the first record I ever bought was the Archies - Sugar, Sugar. I used to love it in there as I always used to go with my brother or a few of my friends from school. If I remember rightly, they had listing booths with headphones so you could listen to your fav song before you bought it.
Sue Duke

I worked Saturdays in the A1 store in Tottenham from 1978 -1980 with Bernie, his daughter & Tina & Kim. Great days and I have some of the best memories from them days. Often wondered what happened to them all after it closed down.
Ken Symeon

I worked at the Tottenham store from when it opened in 65, Rays dad Alf Levy offered me a Saturday and after school job,then full time when I left school in 1966. Worked there until 1970. Work with Ray,Bernie,Melvin and at EastStreet market on Sundays. So sorry to hear of Bernie’s passing,lovely man,used to travel with Bernie to the Walworth Rd. Store when it was being rebuilt after the fire to help restock it and stopping off with Bernie to get salt beef sandwiches at the E & A bar,Stamford Hill. Great times I’ll always remember.
Terry Cousins

How And Then Walworth Facebook

My husband Gary brooks has just seen this page and spoken with our old friend Freddie Foreman and asked him for some insight into the A1 stores. He told him several amusing stories; He was once standing in Lyman’s [The Gladstone] having a late one when a load of big black cars screeched up outside of everyone’s favourite lock in, well everybody thought it was old bill so certain people started thinking of ways to get out. Fred went upstairs and peeked out of the windows and realised it was certain members from the A1 stores along with Jimmy Rosselli and his entourage. As well as this, he says that once when he was on the run he was staying at a flat in Dalston, he was sporting a full on facial beard, plain clothes police type clothing including the official looking three quarter length Mac. He didn't have a kettle in the flat so decided to take a chance and go over the road to a little electrical shop. He chose a kettle from the shelf and took it to the counter to pay, as he did so, trying not to look at salesman behind the counter the salesman said "hello Fred", Fred looked up and saw that it was someone from the A1 stores, he didn’t realise they had a store there. He had known them for years and just said "ssshhh" which they obviously did. BLESS EM. He also confirmed that they did use to supply records to the juke boxes in the area as Fred used them for his pubs and also he used to have his juke boxes in many other pubs and the music in them all were regularly changed by the A1stores. Finally, my husband's hobby is his vinyl records and his book's. He collected his records from the age of 11 from the A1stores and HMV store in Oxford St [now defunct], he has hundreds. He has always praised the A1 stores for their ability to get whatever he wanted, musically. He says that if ever he heard a song, no matter how old or new it was, if he didn’t know what it was called, this is how the conversation would go;- "scuse me mate theres a song I’ve heard but don’t know what it’s called" "Well sing it to me " the old boy behind the counter would say. "Don’t know the words" Gary would respond thinking that was the end of it. "Well hum it then". Originally thought they were trying to take the piss out of him but they finally got him to hum it after a very quick but sheepish look around as well as being very red faced. 9 times out of 10 they would tell him the singer and the song within 5 seconds then play him the correct song. He swears by them and also says that there is or was nowhere else like it. Today all you’ve got are youngster who couldn’t tell Jim Rosselli from Jim Bowen. Lisa Colquhoun

Got my 1st record there I think it was in 1966, sent my Mum there to buy me T-Rex's ride a white swan, she came back and said there was no such record, when I asked her what she had said to the man, she told me she had asked for ride a white horse god bless her, I went and got it myself lol. Janet Ramsey

12" you can`t hurry love was the 1st one bought in the A1, by Phil Collins, loved the fact you could ask to listen to the record b4 buying it, Great shop, lovely family Aerron Eales

My 1st record bought with pocket money was "Fingertips" Stevie Wonder in the early 60`s. Miss the A.1. Wendy Rodgers Pocknell

Bobby Vee and The Crickets, 39/6 Chriss Joyce

Bought my first ever record from there, Sound and vision-Bowie. Shopped there for years after hat. I used to go every Saturday and stock up on new tunes. :-) Dean Downey

A1 was probably the last shop on Walworth road that been there thru generations... I got my first 7 inch single there and my nans xmas present too...Sally O'reilly
I remember when you could go in the A1 record store and asked to hear a record before you purchased it, you would stand in a booth and listen through massive headphones! Try before you buy!!! Pat Andrews OReilly

I loved A1 stores. If ever I wanted to know anything about a record, who sang it or what year it came out to settle argument etc I would ring a1 stores and I can’t remember the name of the bloke that had it but he would give me the name of artist and the year it came out and any trivia about that song or artist.. pure class Patricia Weaver

Ben- Michael Jackson, Without you- Nilsson, Honky Tonk Woman- stones, various Slade, Sweet and a Bay City Rollers song for my girlfriend at the time! And I got Slade Alive from the Walworth Road shop!Liam Barnes

I bought my first record in there with a record token from my birthday...Son of my father by Chicory Tip!!!!!I was between 8 and 10 I guess early 70's. Good luck with you exhibition Kay Rogers

I bought The Limit (Say yeah) album from A1 store. You'll always remember when you bought it, as it had a stamp inside the cover :). Unfortunately, when I asked for: Barbara Fowler - Come and get my lovin... No chance lol. Hi ho, hi ho, it's Off to West End I go. Great times! A1 Store is iconic. xx

Mags Starmag

Always bought lots of vinyl and eventually the guy at Westmorland Road, Walworth asked me if I’d help him out in the Market over at Petticoat Lane . Then his partner got pregnant and I went and ran the shop in South Norwood called Phonograph Records

That was a great time also as I was playing records in a pub a few days a week and got to meet the reps and got cheap records. Left there and helped a friend out who was a record importer of Disco and Soul. Got to meet some lovely people , Robbie Vincent, Greg Edwards, and used to meet Pete Tong when he knocked on the door early in the morning after a shipment arrived and had a cup of tea.

. Paul Brown (2023)




An example of what you could buy at A1 Stores along with electrical lights.


The A1 stamp is just visible above the Temp in Temptations



Paul Brown
09 Jun 2023 at 12:34
Lived just a short distance from A1 Stores in Walworth Road. Remember buying singles early 60’s and onwards. Remember Melvyn and the family well. Always chatty and friendly. Still had some 45’s with the little A1 sticker on and I found a pink paper bag like the one in the photo in a box recently. I can remember going in to buy Electric Ladyland by Hendrix which had the famous naked women on the gatefold sleeve, before they withdrew it. They insisted that it had to be in a brown paper bag then an A1 stores bag , they chuckled as I was only about 12 or 13 .
Dave Harwood
21 Sep 2023 at 04:18
Just to let you know that the photo with the caption 'Scott Walker + Eva + Ray - Press Reception 1966' is actually of John Walker (real name John Maus) of the Walker Brothers. Compare images at this link:
Phil Gosnell
24 Apr 2024 at 12:36
The first record shop I ever visited in the early 1970s, my sister took me because I wanted to buy a single (Slade's 'Merry Xmas Everybody') and I had no idea where to get such a thing.
A couple of years later as I seriously got into music I was in A1 all the time, they had a great selection of Beatles LPs and I bought pretty much all of them from there, as well as the chart singles of the day and whatever else took my fancy.
I still have quite a few of the LPs I bought there bearing the date stamped on the inside of the sleeve by the seller.
The last thing I bought in A1 was a Mick Jagger CD in 1993 ('Wandering Spirit') having moved away from the area I hadn't been in there for quite a while!
Glad I was able to shop there one last time!



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