John Lydon launches Record Store Day in Shoreditch, London

John Lydon and his band Public Image Limited (PiL) played a secret gig in London’s Shoreditch last night (19th March) to launch Record Store Day 2012.

The event, which also featured a DJ set from Orbital, was streamed live to thousands of fans by Boiler Room TV. Spencer Hickman of Rough Trade and coordinator of Record Store Day in the UK since its conception in 2008 spoke on the night about the importance of records in the music industry today and urged everyone in attendance to support the campaign.

It is just four weeks to go to the annual celebrations taking place this year on Saturday April 21. Already an outstanding 192 stores have signed up- 183 in the UK and nine in Ireland. The initial list of almost 200 exclusive Record Store Day releases was also unveiled at the event including limited edition vinyl from David Bowie, Animal Collective, Arctic Monkeys, Flaming Lips/Mastodon, Civil Wars, Hot Chip, She And Him and many more.

Record Store Day UK coordinator Spencer Hickman said, “The support of artists, labels and music fans for this annual celebration of the indie record shop has been amazing and is really appreciated. To have PiL and Orbital play at our launch is not only a real honour, but it’s a sign of how much Record Store Day has developed.”

Hickman introduced the RSD concept of exclusive releases sold only for one day through the indie record shops to the UK four years ago. Last year 180 stores took part and there were approximately 250 exclusive releases only available in participating stores and more than 200 bands played in record stores around the country.

The original idea for record store Day was conceived by Chris Brown, and was founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Pehner as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally.

“Record store day has now become an established part of the music calendar”, said Hickman. “And what makes it special is the character and individuality of record stores. There’s nothing to beat the enthusiasm and atmosphere of a great record shop. The reason great indie stores succeed is that they love music as much as their customers do. Record Store Day is like one huge festival taking place in every part of the UK. It’s primarily about the record stores and the events, not just the products available.”

PiL showcased some new material at the gig and also entertained the crowd with hits such as ‘Image’, ‘Warrior’ and ‘Disappointed’. Battling a hoarse voice and a cold, John was as rotten as ever, belting out the lyrics and riling up the somewhat demure crowd. Blaming the English weather for his cold- John now resides mainly in L.A- he joked, “England has become a sad bicycle park, thanks you Boris.” Speaking of the annual events, John said, “The destruction of the music industry is because people can’t buy records easily. A record is for life. A download is a lack of life. A poor substitute for a real wife!” A Q&A took place with John after their performance with questions from fans and music industry heads alike.

Paul Hartnell of electro duo Orbital said, “It’s a privilege to be asked to be involved and to promote local record stores up and down the country.” Conor O’Brien of Irish band and Mercury Prize nominees Villagers spoke previously of the event and prefers the day to his own birthday. “Records are beautiful things,” he said. “In times of peace it is a joyous thing to indulge in such luxuries. What else is there to fight for?”

Record Store Day is sponsored by the Entertainment Retailers Association. Director General Kim Bayley explained, “However big and glossy and commercialised the entertainment business becomes, it is vital that we support the grassroots stores who day-in, da-out give their support to new talent.”

Paul Quirk, Chairman of ERA concluded, “As Chairman of ERA and a music retailer I have to say that for me Record Store Day is the most exciting event of the whole year. I cannot believe how it has grown over the last few years and also how the retailers and the public have embraced it. Each year it moves up another level and I am sure 2012 will be the best ever.”