Last Collector Standing: Cliff Hardesty, Owner of CD Reunion, on BBQing with Ozzy and the Who's Iconic Album Covers

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What was the first record you ever bought? The Beatles second album. I think it was American release only. In England they put more songs on a side - so an album will have fourteen songs versus in the states it only had ten to twelve songs. In America they had different release because they had extra songs. I believe it was just called The Beatles Second Album and it had songs that didn't fit on Meet The Beatles, which was With The Beatles in England.

How many records do you personally own? About two thousand.

Do you have a favorite record of all time? [Without hesitation] Astral Weeks by Van Morrison. I think Rolling Stone put it in their top ten records of all time [Writer's note: It actually ranked in at number 19 in Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003.] I think the music is really emotional. They didn't give it too much thought. The record was recorded over the course of three days. Van Morrison told the musicians what he wanted and let them improvise. I guess everyone was just in the real spirit of it, and it just turned out [to be] a masterpiece.

Do you also have a favorite album cover? Did you notice the corner over there? [Hardesty points to a wall in his bar behind me that is decorated entirely with album covers] Looking on there... I don't know if I should say this but I always liked the Who's Next cover because they all peed on that monument. I had that album when I was fourteen and after Astral Weeks that's got to be in [my] top ten favorite albums. At fourteen, I could relate to that. It looked like me and my friends. They seemed real cool to me putting that on their cover. [Laughs]

I also love the cover to The Who Sell Out with the baked beans. Actually, Roger Daltrey got a really bad cold from that. Those beans are really cold and he's just sitting in them.

You know, if you had to say the greatest album cover of all time, critics and everybody involved, it would have to be Sgt. Peppers, right? With all the people they put on the cover. Marilyn Monroe. Edgar Allen Poe. It definitely stands out. The Beatles have so many memorable album covers.

Do you have a record in your collection that you consider the "gem" of your collection? I've never really been into the highly collectable ones, other than the Beatles 'butcher block' cover. I'd have to say that.

When I would go to Record Reunion, I remember one [time] where I went with the manager of my O'Fallon store, Bill, and they had [the album by] Lucifer's Friend with the song "Spanish Galleon" for fifteen dollars. I had a stack of records that were all three dollars apiece. Bill was like, "You've got to buy this one. It's really rare. You never see this one. "

"How much is it?"

"Fifteen dollars."

"Why would I want to buy that one for fifteen dollars when I got five albums for the same amount of money? I can get five good albums for that one."

It's all about the music really. I bought the record and I still have it, but I love three-dollar records. As a matter of fact, I have Rare Bird, Born Again, and I tease Dan because I have a receipt I saved from 1986. That record goes for 15 to 25 dollars. I have my receipt that says I paid three dollars and fifty cents for it.

What would you say is your area of expertise with record collecting? I would have to say classic rock, but everybody that I know who does this type of thing - that's everyone's specialty really. The kids are starting to get into it. Younger people are starting to buy records. They all love classic rock too, because there is so much out there. Even collectible albums like Lynyrd Skynyrd's Street Survivors, with the fire. They printed up probably four or five hundred thousand copies of that record. Even though it's collectable, there are so many made. There are so many albums where they made hundreds of thousands of copies, even millions of copies. There are a lot of classic rock records floating around, and they're cheap.

You also own Glad Rags, a clothing and memorabilia store, and have toured selling merchandise as a vendor with Lollapalooza and Ozzfest. What's been you're favorite experience on the road? One day I was walking around backstage to get something to eat and Ozzy was backstage barbecuing. How weird is that to see Ozzy Osbourne barbecuing? I just walked back and said, "Hi, Ozz." He said [in mumbled voice], "Ah!"

If a young kid came into your shop and all he's ever listen to is music off his computer, what advise would you give him to listen to records? I think with records there is a certain quality that they have that's more real. CD sounds good, but with vinyl you are actually getting the real sound wave. You don't even need amplification. You put a needle to a record and hold your ear to it you can hear the record play. If they really love music, they should listen to vinyl because they'll get a more accurate reproduction of the real sound. They can start with Who's Next. That's a perfect one for a fourteen year old!

About The Author

Jon Scorfina

Jon Scorfina is a freelance writer for the Riverfront Times. Between 2010 and 2011, he wrote the weekly column "Last Collector Standing," which explored collecting physical media in the digital age. He continues to write pop culture related cover stories and features for the Riverfront Times.
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