By Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)
Gary Wilkerson admits he never had a job he liked. The 40-year-old shop owner of Earwaxx Records in Kansas City, worked on a loading dock for a freight company before starting his business. Not taking a single loan from the bank to start off his store, he decided to give it his all to segue into a gateway of record-flipping passion. As the youngest of seven, it was evident that music was somehow, someway incorporated into his life. Rediscovering his childhood joy of purchasing records through the help of eBay, like many of his generation, he decided to get back into collecting vinyl. One copy lead to boxes, and after realizing what he truly loved, Wilkerson shifted his focus on opening up his own shop.
The shop, named by his wife, has a similar name as several other record stores across the country. However, the selection offered at this location is of its own, with Wilkerson taking pride in the extensive heavy metal and classic rock collection. Though the shop sits approximately eight miles outside of Downtown, for any crate diggers, it's a must-visit locale. Wilkerson thoroughly answered our questions for this week's Wax Nostalgic 7 Question Survey.
What’s the first record you ever bought?
Gary Wilkerson: It would probably have been three. Because I bought them on the same day. I remember buying three records, but I can only think of two of them. You know what? I got all three. Supertramp's Take the Long Way Home, Manfred Mann's Blinded by the Light, which I think Springsteen actually wrote. And then, I thought I was buying Cheap Trick's I Want You to Want Me, but I actually bought Pablo Cruise's I Want You to Want Me. I was young and I didn't know. I just knew the song title. I bought these records back in '78 or '79, somewhere around then? I was 8 or 9-years-old.
What’s your favorite record of this week?
Gary Wilkerson: I've been listening to the Grisly Hand. They're a local band from around here. They do alternative country music. It's just a phenomenally produced, self-done record that's great. And I can't listen to it enough.
What’s the most valuable/expensive record that you own?
Gary Wilkerson: I got a Little Willie John record that's probably pretty good value, but you'd never get it off me. James Brown thought he was the best soul singer ever.
If you didn’t own a record shop, what would you do?
Gary Wilkerson: [Laughs.] I don't know, man. I really don't. I can't imagine it at this point. Not having it. I'd probably be in the grind, just like everybody else. I would have found another job, and had to do it. Like I said, if I wasn't working myself, it would have been through whatever means I could have. Mowing lawns...You know? I don't know. [Laughs.]
Why should people buy records?
Gary Wilkerson: They sound better. People like a different sort of sound, and you know once a record gets a scratch you're going to hear a noise, but vinyl comes out so much warmer than a CD ever possibly could. And the whole idea behind 24 karat gold CD is to make it sound like vinyl. So, to me, the ultimate way to hear it is the way the artist wants to hear it.
Vinyl will never die because…
Gary Wilkerson: Because there'll always be enough listeners to appreciate it. I think it's just that, man. [Laughs.]
Have you ever played a certain record and gotten laid?
Gary Wilkerson: Coltrane Plays the Blues. [Laughs.] That album, you know, if you want to knock off the stuff on your desk, and with the girl, yeah, that's it, man.
6410 N. Oak Trafficway, Kansas City, MO