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"Dobell's was not our only regular meeting place, for Brian Jones (Rolling Stones) had found a job just a few hundred yards south in the basement record department of a stationers/book shop at the West End of the Strand which I am almost sure was W.H. Smith & sons. Somehow , he had reached the position where he could actually order records on behalf of the shop. This now seems quite incredible for, while I liked Brian immensely, he was one of the most untrustworthy characters I have ever encountered.

I guess I can hardly take the moral high ground, for I would go down to see him and pose as a customer and let him use a bogus name to order some obscure record we liked the look of in the listings. It might like seem like a heresy, but Brian had found a source of Crown Records, a cheap label principally sold in American drug stores, and had obtained a few albums by B.B. King. To my everlasting shame, both he and I were initially disapointed to find that his music was relatively sophisticated with big band accompaniment. Where was the slide guitar and harmonica? We had a very narrow view of what we thought was real blues, but, to our credit, we did learn fast.

It seems almost unnecessary to say it, but Brian didn't last long at that shop. The stock of unsalable items he left behind must have been substantial. He might have even tried to avoid the consequences of his indulgent activities by being transferred to another branch, for I remember having to leg it right down to the far eastern end of The Strand to where he briefly undertook the same role in another W.H. Smith store at the south end of the Kingsway. Extract from (pg.64-65 of "The First Time We Met The Blues") .

W H Smiths High Street North East Ham
(April 23, 2015) This branch was similar to Ilford. It had a good music department and I would sometimes go there on my lunch break from Forest Gate. It also had stand in listening booths. Comment: David Lawson.

Notting hill Branch
(April 23, 2015) I brought David Bowie LP's Ziggy Stardust and Changes there in about 1975 two albums which I spent many an hour closing my eyes and let then swim around in my head with headphones on. Comment: Leon Parker

(April 25, 2015) In the mid sixties the branch of WH Smith at Hendon Central also started to stock records.
Comment: Bernard Glicksman


Dave Harwood
08 Apr 2024 at 02:53
I found an advert in the 'Chelsea News & General Advertiser' dated 21st March 1975:
“Manage a W.H. Smith record department. We are one of the largest retailers of records. Could you help us sell more? Whatever your taste in music whether Beethoven or Blues, if you have a good all round experience in selling records then you could be the sort of person we are looking for to run the record department at our KENSINGTON BRANCH. We'll train you in Smith's systems and offer you a challenge to reach higher management positions. We can offer: £36.00 to £44.56 a week. Excellent prospects for promotion. Generous staff discount. 5-day week including alternate Saturdays off. 4 weeks' holiday after qualifying service. So write or or telephone now for more details and an interview to: Mr. P. George, Recruitment Officer, W.H. SMITH & SON LTD., Strand House, Portugal Street WC2A 2HS. Tel. 01-405 4343.”




Part of the W.H. Smith chain

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