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Dad was the first major record retailer, starting in 1958 with the "Soho Record Centre" on the corner of Old Compton and Dean St, he then went on to open another 15 stores around London, but Soho was the flagship, he then was managing director of Chappell's in Bond Street in the 70's. Dad was incredibly well thought of as the pioneer who started record retail and theatre record sales and did personal appearances for Sammy Davis, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Glenn Campbell, Dylan, Petula Clark, Sacha Distel, Roger Moore, Lena Horne, to name but a few, he was truly inspirational in the way retail is run today. Nigel Strickland

I understand from the young man in above photo that Alex always had a cigar available in his office. I ausmed that Alex was smoking them but as Nigel pionted out he just kept them for visitors.
There is a reference to Alex Strickland in Andrew Loog Oldham's book 'Stoned'.

Your website has done more than jog my memory. My first job was as an assistant at Soho Records in Barnet in early 1971, and I then went on to manage the Golders Green branch later that year.
What I remember about my first day behind the counter was that it coincided with the first day of decimalization, so not only didn't I know anything about records, but I didn't know how to work the cash register! Very shortly after, just as I thought I was getting the hang of it, the single 'My Sweet Lord' was released, so I got the mistaken impression that all singles sold at the rate of the fastest seller of all time. I was sent to help at a numer of different branches, the most intersting of which was at Ludgate Hill. This store did weekday lunchtime trade, very largely in classical music, and was run by a wonderful woman who knew every great recording and knew a glass of wine, too. My mother, who had put me up for the interview for the job, worked as PA at Soho HQ under a Scotswoman, Mary Finlay who went on to open Casa Cassettes in Glasgow. She was succeeded by Brian Gatland. They reported to Louis Benjamin, who reported to Lord Grade, as Soho was a subsidiary of Pye and that, in its turn, was owned by ATV. Alex Strickland had sold his chain to them, but people still spoke of him with some degree of awe. I recall being told that he was keen to collect the cash takings himself and would drive around the branches to do so.

It was a fantastic time to be in record retailing, for two reasons in particular: a) the product being released in 1971 was incredible - 'Blue' 'Tapestry' 'Elton John' and b) discounting had yet to take hold; I remember people lining up on Saturday morning for the new Andy Williams or Carpenters album, and nobody asked the price [ £1.99 !].

Anyway, I subsequently went on to university but came back to the record business and formed a wholesaler / budget label called Prism Leisure (initially Geoffs Records) which expanded until the early part of the millenium. A few years after I left, it went out of business.


Comments


The smell of the orange plastic Soho bags has never left my nostrils. Comment Ivor Young

102 Golders Green Road
I think this shop closed sometime in the early 80s. Our Price Records had opened further down Golders Green Road c1976 (replacing Tape Revolution - a bizarre early 70s experiment which pushed pre-recorded audio cassettes over vinyl LPs ). In '77 / '78 Our Price had some hip staff who bought in lots of the punk stuff - even the independent labels - so often saving me a trip down to Rough Trade! Around this time Strickland also opened up a record shop under his own name just up the Finchley Road, in Temple Fortune NW11. I don't recall it lasting very long.
Comment :Alan Dein.

I worked for Alex Strickland at the Soho Record Centre during 1963/64 when Eddie O'Sullivan was manager and others like Judy Spring worked there, and occasionally Louis Rayner. Apart from Sinatra, Eartha Kitt etc, there were appearances when I was there by Bob Dylan, Rita Moreno, Shirley Bassey, Mark Murphy and many others. I left in late 64, but returned to manage the branch at 33 Coventry Street all through 67/68 and 69. He stored those famous carrier bags in the basement of that branch - hell on wheels when a new lot was delivered! I remember buying records when Strickland had a small department at the back of The Hobbit, a narrow tobacconist in Wardour Street, just round the corner from Old Compton Street, circa 1958... Comment: Paul Daniel.

I also worked at the Soho shop during the 60,s I started at Cheapside but moved to Soho after Eddie O Sullivan took over, I even became his assistant for a while travelling to all the branches with him. It was also one of my duties to prepare the order we received from the Paris Lido in France Alex was a great man to work for ,the Christmas parties were fantastic, he even took me for a ride in his Ford Mustang once. people I remember are Judy, Carol, Sally and Mick from Soho, Diane from Cheapside, Delsie? from Ludgate Hill .Ena from Queensway, Paul form Coventry st, and the lovely lady whose name I cannot remember but she was the first manager of the new Chelsea shop. Comment: Ron Simpson.

(Oct 2, 2014) Paul Daniel said:I worked for Alex Strickland at the Soho Record Centre during 1963/64 when Eddie O'Sullivan was manager and others like Judy Spring worked there, and occasionally Louis Rayner. Apart from Sinatra, Eartha Kitt etc, there were appearances when I was there by Bob Dylan, Rita Moreno, Shirley Bassey, Mark Murphy and many others. I left in late 64, but returned to manage the branch at 33 Coventry Street all through 67/68 and 69. He stored those famous carrier bags in the basement of that branch - hell on wheels when a new lot was delivered! I remember buying records when Strickland had a small department at the back of The Hobbit, a narrow tobacconist in Wardour Street, just round the corner from Old Compton Street, circa 1958...

(Mar 17, 2014) Anonymous said:Hi Scott, This is Nigel Strickland, Alex’s son, sorry for the delayed response but I haven’t looked at this website in a while. Dad sadly passed away 5 years ago and is sadly missed by us all as well as all his old friends
from the record business. Harold passed away in the late 70’s I think. Dad visited the states so many times as we had family there and he loved going to the US, I just talked to my mum about this and she remembers Moe and my dad being good friends, I will try and find out more information for you. Thanks again Nigel

(Nov 20, 2013) Scott Rubinstein said:Hi, To anyone who can help with some information. My good friend, Moe Tandler and his children Sandy & Mitch are seeking info about Alex Strickland and Harold Coleman. Moe became close friends with Alex & Harold during WWII. One of them visited Moe in the States in the mid sixties and the family is trying to figure out some details of their visit. If anyone could be of assistance, please contact me. Thanks so much. Scott Rubinstein Saugerties, New York
scottr@quailhollow.com

(July 2, 2013) Cousin said:Comment Alex started out in his parent's sweet and tobacconist shop in Coptic Street he then had Alex's Cigar Stores round the corner. Hence the cigar

(Feb 19, 2013) said:The photo of the "young man" (I wish I still was!!) is me, in 1965, prior to my emigration to Australia (yes, I got there for 10 quid). Having spotted this on line, I am also delighted to see photo's of, for the first time in some 50 years, the always smiling Alex Strickland, who kept on smiling despite my anarchic habit of wanting do everything "my way". Being a giant fan of Frank Sinatra you'll understand my sentiments. I started in his Soho branch and worked my way to two more of his shops, until I went off elsewhere to try 'something else', hence me in that Brixton record shop a little later. "Strickland's" was a very special shop, it had "class". The bit about the cigar I did refer to as the man who founded the great jazz shop in Charing X Road - Dobell's.

(Feb 19, 2013) Gerald Corper said:The photo of the "young man" (I wish I still was!!) is me, in 1965, prior to my emigration to Australia (yes, I got there for 10 quid). Having spotted this on line, I am also delighted to see photo's of, for the first time in some 50 years, the always smiling Alex Strickland, who kept on smiling despite my anarchic habit of wanting do everything "my way". Being a giant fan of Frank Sinatra you'll understand my sentiments. I started in his Soho branch and worked my way to two more of his shops, until I went off elsewhere to try 'something else', hence me in that Brixton record shop a little later. "Strickland's" was a very special shop

(Jan 3, 2013) Nigel Strickland said:Marion that's fantastic, Chappell's was an amazing store, which grew so fast once dad had taken over as MD, was it David barmitzvah in 71 or mine in 74, would love to see what photo's you have. Thanks Nigel

(Nov 2, 2012) Marion Firth said:Have some lovely photos of the opening of Chappels in Bomd Street which my sister Glenys and dad Leslie Sluce went to. Also we all went to a Barmitzva at Fairholmes Gardens. I rememeber your mum Josie wearing a beautiful dress bit Cleopatra look!

(Nov 2, 2012) Marion firth said:My dad Leslie Sluce worked for your dad Alex Striclkland at the souvenirs shop in Buckingham Palace Rosd. My dad and sister went to the opening of ChappChappels in flag like

(Aug 24, 2012) Mike said:I had the privilege of managing 60 Dean Street for Alex during the 60s. It was a marvellous time to be in record retail. He was a great boss and the record chains that followed in his wake - Harlequin, Our Price etc. owed him a great deal.

(Dec 22, 2014) I worked at Soho Records Dean Street from 1967 till 1969. I remember Sammy Davis Jnr making a personal appearance to promote his showGolden Boy, and my manager at the time was off sick with the flu.I was asked to welcome Mr Davis,and you can imagine how nervous I was.....We had some photos taken, but unfortunately they got lost. Comment: Haras Ullah.

(Dec 28, 2014)I don't know how I came across this site but it has brought back a lot of good memories. My father was a good friend of Alex, both having grown up in soho . So fortunately for me , I started working Saturdays and school holidays in Harrow in 1965 and moving up to soho store in 1966 - back to the area where I had lived up until 1958. I can now look back and count myself very lucky to have been in that environment at such a young age , and was definitely character forming- clients varying from Eric Clapton Cubbi Broccoli and the local dancers! Handing out leaflets for the personal appearances, delivering records to theatres was very innovative at the time - and remembering Alex's reaction and words when Sonny and Cher arrived late is priceless
For the next few years I worked in many of the stores particularly King Road
Paul - I remember working for you in Coventry street
Haras - I remember the Johnny Mathis day and you too especially if you had a brother Faruq
working in Harold Coleman tobacconist You can contact me via Facebook or linkedin Comment: Tony Ganio.

(Jan 11, 2015)Only read the comments about Alex Strickland today & having known & worked for him at various times found it all interesting. In 1957 when working at Bourne & Hollingsworth in the record department Alex offered to double my salary if I would work for him. He planned to open a Record Sales section in the small Confectionery & Tobacconist shop he had in Wardour Street. After that he was to open a new modern Record Shop in Old Compton St. Unfortunately, the smaller shop ownership was involved his brother Norman, who was not happy to lose my services to this enterprise of Alex. I solved that problem by leaving to manage a record shop in Knightsbridge.
Alex later asked me to manage his Ludgate Hill branch in 1964/5 and all the staff were outside the shop in 1965 watching Churchill's funeral procession pass on to St Paul's.
Although I left some months after I still worked Saturdays at Old Compton St for which Alex paid me well. Especially for the big Special Appearances, Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Shirley Bassey, and others....all well known.
Years later I met Alex & Josie when dshopping in Harrods & I was told about his home in the south of France and invited to visit. I regret that I didn't. He taught me so much & unlike a good few I was never 'sacked' by him. Comment: Harry Atterbury

(April 11, 2015) My brother Brian Gurling was the manager for Soho Records at the Cheapside branch around 1966, and I started there doing Saturday mornings. I remember Diane who was the girlfriend of Andy Fairweather-Lowe,(Amen Corner) lovely girl.
I enjoyed it so much and Eddie took me on full time in the London Wall branch with Ellen as the manageress. When Ellen left I took over as manager even though Eddie wasn't sure as I was so young but I proved I could do it and he was satisfied enough to let me carry on. Like many of us I also did stand in work at other branches such as Coventry Street, Queensway, Ludgate Hill and Dean Street etc. I also remember Alex driving over in his white Ford Mustang on one of his collection visits. Great times and great memories. Comment: Peter Gurling.

(Dec 27, 2015) I worked for A/S for several years starting at the Dean st. Shop and then becoming Eddie O'sullivans P/a working out of the store room @ the Queensway store , run then buy a fab lady by the name of Ena and a rather temperamental young South African lady, I have fond memories of all the staff in most shops ,ie Paul Johnson ,Sylvia white,judy Spring,two young ladies whom worked in the Dean st office ,Harris , Barry (Bond st.)Peter (Coventry st) Jill (Barnet) Eddie O'sullivans was the Best man at my wedding in Hampstead 1973 some years after we left Soho records he died sadly . But last and not least the one and only Alex Strickland and his lovely Wife ,whom I had the pleasure along with Eddie of visiting at their Golders Green home and knowing them a little outside of work ....Fond memories. Comment: Michael Armes

Gina Auerbach "I bought my first single 'She loves you' from Golders Green when I was 7. Subsequently. it was the greatest treat to visit on a Saturday before my dance lessons at Aida Foster nearby. Went on to get The Clapping Song, Bang Bang by Cher, Cinderella Rockefella, The Crying Game, Young Girl, Honey by Bobby Goldsboro & many others. The greatest excitement was going to a personal appearance by Paul & Barry Ryan. I was so small I couldn't see anything but the crowds were buzzing! My eldest daughter, who is now 28 is called Eloise & I still have the single!" (April 9, 2016)

Wendy Carter 'Oh my! what memories I worked for Soho records in Sutton with a guy called Ashley in the late 60's I then went on to work in London Victoria Street (the Manager was called Bill) and was there when the Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin visited London after walking on the moon. I also worked in Cheapside, London Wall, Ludgate Hill and a couple of times in Kings Road. I often visited the head office in Dean Street. (I seem to remember having a connection at some point with a guy from A&M records ?? who employed me) ' (June 23, 2016)

Name Helen Ward Comment: I did a commercial in a phone booth on Alex Strickland shopping 1966 in old Compton street in Soho during the World Cup season but forgot to look do you have it and can I see it. (March 11, 2017)


Name Jon Wozencroft Comment: My Dad was good friends with Alex in the 1960s and 70s. The Soho scene was electrifying in those days and I have many fond memories of going to the Dean Street store in advance or after a good lunch. These accounts are true, in the sense that Alex used to command the stage like a performer and not just a retailer.

Fast forward to the early 70s, and Alex gave me a holiday job in the Southgate store. It was Christmas - he directed us all to play "James Last Greatest Hits" over the in-store stereo to sell as many copies as possible. Me and my colleagues really hated this record, so by hook and by crook, we persuaded the manager/buyer to over-order copies of Brian Eno's "Another Green World". Normally we'd stock 2, we we added an extra 0 and made it 20.
In those days you'd bring the sleeve up to the counter, and the record store assistant would put the vinyl in the sleeve and ask for your money.

We developed a scheme where we'd put a copy of the Brian Eno LP into the James Last sleeve and wait to see what happened.
We imagined, Christmas morning, and instead of "Ooom Pah Pah" you'd be greeted with the noise of Robert Fripp's guitar on "See Saw". The curious thing was, we never got one return as a result of this action. (May 14, 2017)



Comment
I started off as a "Saturday boy" in the Barnet branch of Soho records, owned I thing at that time by ATV. Ena sometimes sent me to other branches: Harrow or Golders Green.
During the next7 years, and after the takeover by Kreeger I worked in 27 shops out of the 68 branches of Harlequin records.
In Barnet with Colin and Marlyn, who later managed Harrow. In Haymarket and Coventry street with a girl with blue hair, in the ex Butcher׳s shop in Rupert street with Jed Taylor, and also in Oxford Street. On several occasions I chased after theives grabbing and running off with records from the racks.
But my favourite was Dean Street, with it's specialty film soundtracks and a glass of wine at 5pm
David Vinegrad (2018)


Comment
I’m trying to contact the Stickland family. Alex Strickland was son of Henry. Alex had brother Norman. Alex’s step uncle was Maurice dribbus. Maurice’s son was Sam dribbus. Sam and Alex new one another and met in London many years ago and then we lost contact. I believe Alex moved to France and his brother Norman moved to USA. Alex surname used to be Strasbourg or similar. If someone knows a contact email for Strickland family would be appreciated.
Thank you Mark dribbus
Australia. (2020)

Comment
Fascinated to find this site! Wish I’d found it before my mum died last year, as she would have enjoyed reminiscing. She worked at various branches in the 60s, Soho, Victoria, Cheapside and London Wall. She was the Ellen who Peter Gurling mentioned as being the Manageress he took over from (that would have been 1967, I think).

Name
Siobhan Nelson
(2020)

Comment
Just come across this web page and good Lord it has brought back fantastic memories of the past.
I joined Alex Strickland's SOHO RECORD CENTRE LTD in April 1967 as STOCKTAKER
I used to visit 4 shops per week and did my reconciliation on Fridays in the office above the Cinema first on the 1st Floor and later we move up to the 2nd floor to a much bigger set of Offices.
I worked for Alex Strickland until about 6 months after PYE/ATV took over and put a new guy as MD who called me in and said " look here I am going to put your wages up so it is at least £ 1 a week more than the highest paid Manager/Manageress and I want you to be a Policeman in this job is that understood ?" I decided there an then that if I had wanted to be a policeman I would have joined up at Scotland Yard and although I had an evening job with Kenco as Restaurant Manager in the Kings Road, I also had 2 children and a wife to feed so I stayed on until one whilst in the Queensway branch I had a BARNEY with the new guy who ran the Head Office ( some Accountant or other and I left there and then, where my story ends. JJ

Name
JACQUES JANS
(2020)

Comment
A long time since I checked this site but certain recent things encouraged me.
Firstly, for those who remember the wonderful Judy Spring (several comments include her name), one of Alex Strickland's almost permanent staff, there is sad info to pass on. She died on Wednesday 29 May 2019 having suffered for a long while with osteoporosis, but it was cancer that she succumbed to. I had resumed our friendship by e-mail and phone for quite a while after many years of being out of touch, so was particularly please to speak to her within days of her demise.
In the last few years I've also been in touch with Harry Atterbury and seen him a few times. He is now well retired and living in
Victoria after having tried North Wales for a while.
In my time at Soho Record Centre (May 63 - July 64) I met and worked with many wonderful people apart from the two mentioned. Who remembers the dear Pat Lytell? We still correspond at birthdays and Xmas and she's well. The irascible Eddie O'Sullivan went
to live in America with Mark Murphy but also died back in 1989. Mark held a Memorial service for him at the Catholic Church in Maiden Lane (London) on 21 February 1990 and I attended with Judy and Louis Rayner - a sad reunion...
I'm sure some remember Peter Jones who worked with me a lot while I was managing the 33 Coventry Street branch from Jan 67 - Nov 69, but I've no idea what became of him. Nick Nicholas also worked at 33 off and on - we teamed up in the early 70s to write unsuccessful songs! Sylvie (surname unremembered) also worked at 33 for quite a while.
As for me - I'm still here - clearly! Still living in the Shaftesbury Avenue flat I moved into while at Soho Record Centre so many years ago. I wish everyone well and hope no one we used to know has succumbed to Covid 19. Best wishes - Paul Daniel. (2020)

Comment
Hi Paul,
Came across this site by accident. So glad you are well and still living in theatreland.
This site has taken me back to when I first worked at Cheapside with Harry and Brian Gatland as GM. Than on to St.Pauls to work with dear Delsey who through her madness and eccentric ways taught me much about classical music From there on to Soho Records in Dean Street ,a place I used to visit regularly with my father as a young boy who would quite easily come out of their with enough albums to warrant a taxi home, finally becoming manager at Soho ,and later on stints at Golders Green and Queensway with Ena till she left to manage somewhere else and I took over ending up at Hammersmith with years later opening up my own shop Flyover Records just opposite (after stints at the two 'One Stop' Shops in Soho just of Oxford Street. Eddie was a very dear friend and to this day I have his photo in my study still not believing that he is no longer with us. We ended up living together in Cornwall Gardens . You of course was in Coventry Street and I well remember coming up to your place to listen to records or some new discovery of yours. So sad to hear of Judy's passing, though she had her personal demons to live with we got on famously and even after some time on when she left Soho to go live in a beautiful pile in the country we ,that is Eddie and I would motor down to visit. Alex Strickland was a great man to work for and for years not only would I obviously see him at work ,but also on Holiday in the South of France...I am now living in Malta having achieved as much as I wanted to achieve in the record world. which I never would have done had I not had a fabulous musical journey at Soho records and all the wonderful people working there who taught me so much and to whom I will always be grateful .Much love Louis.

Billboard USA 1969

Len Ford "This used to be one of the shops on my Pye Records area 110. It was in Dean Street.
They used to supply Juke Boxes from here so all orders for this had to be dinked,
that was a pain sorting it out. This photo was before laurie Krieger owned the chain,
he went bust and Pye records bought him out." Doesn't quite ring true to me? Jeff Dexter

Thanks to Alan Dein for Programme adverts click here to visit his blogM

John Etherington

I worked there for most of 1971. With Track Records being across the Road, Speedy Keene and John Entwistle used to drop in. Other famous visitors while I was there included Dustin Hoffman, John Peel, Mike Heron, Carly Simon, and Julie Ege. The shop had a speaker above the door, which used to annoy the lady in the flat above (especially, when I played the Wild Man Fischer LP)!

Alison Martyn

My husband Jim worked alongside John Etherington in this shop when it was Harlequin Records. He remembers John Martyn coming in and asking for “My Goal’s Beyond” by Mahavishnu John McLaughlin

John Etherington

Two strippers from the club opposite used to come in and ask for suitable records for their dance routine. When we played our suggestions they sometimes danced around the shop (though fully clothed).

Wendy Carter
07 May 2024 at 05:23
Further my comments about working at Soho Records in the 1960's.(Still named that despite Pye actually owning them) I remember the guy I worked with at Victoria St. was Bill Holland. I was just reading Going for a Song (a chronicle of the UK record shop) and his name came up. I had thought it was Bill Holland but wasn't sure my memory was holding up. We had an amazing times one of the funniest things I remember was selling Je T'aime on the Major Minor label in brown paper bags from under the counter! I used to visit the head office in Dean Street with the days takings. As a point of interest if anyone remembers the film The Sandwich man with Michael Bentine The Soho shop is actually seen at one point!! I had the pleasure of working Sutton initially with Ashley (Wright?) Victoria St. Cheapside, London Wall, Ludgate Hill and Carnaby Street branches in the time I was there. Such special days

Details

Locations

60 Dean Street W1 Soho / London
102 Golders Green NW11 Golders Green / London
7 Hillgate House, Ludgate Hill EC4 City of London / London
76 Cheapside EC2 City of London / London
160 Salisbury House EC2 City of London / London
1 King Street Hammersmith W6 Hammersmith / London
280 Station Rd W2 Harrow / London
119 Queensway, W2 Paddington / London
64 Victoria St SW1 Westminster / London
31 Coventry St W1 Westminster / London
98 High St Barnet / London
125 King's Road SW3 Chelsea / London
421 High Road Wembley / London
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