Bill Dudley has been spinning vinyl since he was 15.
He's been working either as a D.J. or in his own record stores for years. Now, he brings that passion for music to the South Bay with Dudley’s Records. The store opened on Friday the 13th in October in Torrance, but is already drawing crowds.
“This store is my seventh record store, and I think it’s going to be a lucky number," said Dudley. "Everyone who comes in here is excited about the store."
Dudley's previous store locations were in the Portland area, where he moved after needing a break from his radio work.
“It was 1980, and I took $8,000, and opened a store when I got tired of the radio business. No one sold 12-inch singles or '45s at that time, so that’s what I started with. At first I was mostly selling to club D.J.s and then kids started coming in, high school and college-age patrons, so I started carrying heavy metal, new wave and dance music in two different stores. At one point, I had three stores in the Portland area,” said Dudley.
He sees a difference in terms of record store shoppers and the retail scene itself here in the beach cities as compared to Portland. Here, he said, his store is more unique and more local.
“In Portland, there was a store at every corner. Here that’s not the case. I’m the only one in this part of Torrance, but I do have to give a plug to PM Sounds in downtown Torrance, they’ve sent a lot of customers our way.”
In addition to vinyl, Dudley's also carries posters, T-shirts, neon collectibles, cassettes, and CDs. When first-time shoppers enter, Dudley says the reaction is pretty standard.
“People step inside and the first thing they say is ‘Wow, what a great store.’ It seems that everyone who has been here lives within six or eight blocks of the store. This is a neighborhood store,” he said.
That includes Dudley who recently moved into the neighborhood.
"The first day I was here, I realized I can walk to work now, when I’m not bringing records in.”
Most of Dudley’s current stock of 30,000 records are from his personal collection. He's been collecting since he was a child. He calls himself a “top 40 boy” who grew up in the Bay area to the sounds of KEWB and KYA.
“(The records are) from 1959 through the 90s,” he explains. I’ve sold almost 2,000 records in the two weeks since I’ve been open, so I’ll be bringing in more records soon.”
In fact, he’s looking for some.
“I’m running an ad that started Thursday soliciting for more rock, jazz, r & b, soul, and especially 80s stuff, because that blew out of here in the first week, the Smiths, The Cure, all of those bands. I’m most interested in buying locally.”
Dudley's favorite genres are top-40, rock, rhythm and blues, and jazz. He prefers the sound of vinyl to other music formats.
“It just sounds better, although I play CDs in the car,” he said “but people like other formats, too. Cassettes are popular again because the players are cheap, and I have a great selection of oldies and hard rock form the 80s, things like Ozzy Osbourne, and Guns n’ Roses.”
As a D.J. himself, Dudley has hosted the “Sunday Brunch” program on the WAVE at Spaghettini in Seal Beach since 2000, but works on-air only on the weekends. He prefers to spend most of his time at his store, which is eclectically decorated with radio memorabilia and even a neon sign from the original Dudley’s location in Portland.
Dudley is planning a grand opening celebration for the store with one of the D.J.’s he worked with at K-EARTH. In the meantime, he wants everyone to come on in and explore the lively environment and all the fun sounds he and his staff have to offer.
Dudley’s Records is located at 4633 Torrance Blvd, in Torrance.
For more information, call (831) 228-3170, visit dudleysrecords.com, or its Facebook page.