June 19, 2013
The Roots’ bandleader and legendary drummer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson shares his formative experiences of record collecting.
Even the biggest record collections have to start somewhere. In his new autobiography Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According To Questlove, the drummer goes right back to the beginning of what is now by all accounts a 70,000+ collection housed in his very own record library.
Born into a musical household of over five thousand records, the young Ahmir Thompson was surrounded by his father’s diverse taste (“from rock to soul to folk to country”), obsessed with the records’ circular form (“I would take my father’s records and twirl them on my finger”) and hypnotized by the rotating labels on the turntable (“Back then, I judged records based on how the logo looked rotating on the turntable, and the Curtom logo — psychedelic lettering with a sun drawn behind the middle of the word — was a little too intense for me.”) The fear of Curtom wasn’t helped by a traumatic experience in which Thompson had scolded himself on a radiator while listening to Curtis Mayfield aged just three.
Taken record shopping as a reward for persisting in school, Thompson reveals his first major coup as a collector was convincing one of his older sister’s prespective boyfriends to buy him the Sugarhill Gang’s Rappers Delight LP.
But this was not a sustainable source for a kid already on his way to spending thousands of pounds a month on records:
“Every Monday there was a new rap single, so my goal was to mo’ meta blues find thirty-two dimes within a seven-day period so I could buy the next twelve-inch. If I saw a dime on the floor, it went into my pocket, and I was one tick closer. If my mother asked me if I had put the dimes in the collection plate at church, I said “Yes, ma’am,” but they were in fact going to another higher power: a fund to help me buy records. And just like that, my record-buying obsession began.” [via NPR]
Take a look inside Questlove’s record library (10 years ago) below or watch his recent RBMA lecture here.