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Name: asherdust
Comment: My Pops ran a reggae and bluebeat sound system in the sixties and seventies in Oxford and he used to bring me along to Russell Acott every Saturday afternoon. I remember the listening booths very well, in fact I'm still in touch with some of the old staff there... In the eighties during my jazz-funk soulboy phase I would be there purchasing the latest US and Japanese imports for that one decent track... sigh... happy days...

Name: englishhermit
Comment: In the sixties, most Saturday afternoons were spent in Russell Acott in Oxford who stocked every new single release. With my paper round money of £1 I was able to buy three singles (at 6/8d each). They had listening booths, stained with tobacco, where they would let me listen to around ten singles, the list which I had compiled earlier from Record Mirror, knowing that I would be buying three. Motown, Chicago and Memphis soul were usually top of the list but I also included some US garage one-hit-wonder stuff.

Name: Brian Fidler
Comment: This was always Oxford's leading music store, with a fantastic record department where you could get everything, from classical to pop, soul and blues, jazz and country, film and show music, reggae, ska, blue beat, nostalgia - records no other shop stocked or indeed knew of! Terrific staff who knew just about everything. Sadly there are no shops left like this. Very happy days.

In an interview with Gilles Peterson, David Rodigan mentions buying reggae from Russell Acott:

"My first real awareness of The Wailers had been in the mid-sixties when Island released the Put It On It’s Rock Steady album which featured their song ‘Put It On’ and had two cartoon characters on the sleeve with their arms aloft. I thought The Wailers was a great name but only because I imagined someone at sea in a boat – I thought it was The Whalers, as in fishermen. The music wasn’t so much Reggae as Rock Steady, a music form that evolved from Ska with a much cooler, slower beat. I remember the thrill of hearing the words of the title song – ‘I’m gonna put it on . . .’ – in my local music shop, Russell Acott’s in Oxford High Street.

Acott’s was a large traditional shop with a downstairs department where they sold classical music, sheet music, pianos and other musical instruments. On the first floor there was the record department selling everything from The Bachelors to Jim Reeves. Luckily for me, the assistants behind the counter, Margaret and Janet, were passionate about Jamaican Ska and Rock Steady. Island Records and other labels were releasing seven-inch singles and the two women bought them from the travelling record salesmen who would bring them to Oxford because of its small West Indian community. You could choose the songs you wanted to hear, and they would pile up your chosen records and you would be told to go into your private listening booth and stand there while they would play your selections. You then decided whether you wanted to purchase or not.
David Rodigan My Life In Reggae 2017.

He shares stories of cycling from Kidlington to Hinksey Pool during the long hot summers in the 1960s, listening to pop, and of playing football for Kidlington and then Islip Boys. But it was at dance school in George Street that his love of reggae took flight – hearing tunes by Jimmy Cliff, Prince Buster and other Jamaican stars, and snapping up vinyl at the city's long-disappeared Russell Acott record shop, and selling discs himself in Oxford and London.

Photo: South side no. 124 Russell Acott music shop closing down sale, 28.5.1999


14 May 2024 at 06:07
Really great reading the stories of people's experiences of Russel Acott. Great shop, great staff. I wish I still had an Acott bag.



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