Inside the tiny Hollywood record store that supplies rare vinyl to the entertainment industry – Daily News

One winter when Kevin Hiroshi Donan was a kid growing up in Flint, Michigan, he went outside to play with some of his dad’s Frisbees — or at least he thought the round, black, grooved discs were Frisbees. Donan tossed the discs, watching them disappear into the deep snow.

“When the snow has melted,” says Donan in As the Record Turns, where thousands of records rise from floor to ceiling. “I found out what a record was.”

Today, Donan releases records in a different way: he specializes in rare vinyl, providing collectors, DJs, musicians, archivists and others with high-quality copies of vintage sounds. In the more than 30 years since Donan and his wife, Monet, opened As the Record Turns, the offerings inside this compact Hollywood boutique have drawn celebrity customers ranging from Paul Shaffer to Anderson. Paak, as well as cultural institutions like the Grammy Museum and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  • Kevin Donan owns As the Record Turns, a small record store in Hollywood that often supplies rare vinyl to the film, television and music industries. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kevin Donan owns As the Record Turns, a small disc...

    Kevin Donan owns As the Record Turns, a small record store in Hollywood that often supplies rare vinyl to the film, television and music industries. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

  • One of Bob Dylan's first albums is presented at As the...

    One of Bob Dylan’s early albums is featured at As the Record Turns in Hollywood, California. Kevin Donan owns the small record store that often supplies rare vinyl to the film, television and music industries. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kevin Donan owns As the Record Turns, a small disc...

    Kevin Donan owns As the Record Turns, a small record store in Hollywood that often supplies rare vinyl to the film, television and music industries. Here he shows off a signed Rolling Stones album. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)

Back when Donan started selling records, he wanted to make sure the focus was on copies in good condition. “Because my father was like that,” he says. “Pretty much, he bought his records new. If he bought ten, maybe one was barely open.

The state of vinyl has also made As the Record Turns a go-to place for prop managers looking for the perfect period pieces to appear in film and TV, as well as record labels looking for parts from their catalogs. To date, Donan says the store has supplied vinyl for more than 1,000 movies and 700 TV shows. If you’ve watched “That ’70s Show”, you’ve probably seen a record from Donan’s stock. The teams behind movies like “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Straight Outta Compton” also turned to As the Record Turns. Images from records in the store’s collection were used for more than 2,000 items, including reissues of classic albums.

Before all of that happened, however, Donan was the teenage drummer for the band Hypersolmystics, which played around Flint and the University of Michigan in the early 1970s, landing opening gigs for The Ohio Players and Parliament. Funkadelic. By the end of the decade, Donan had moved to Los Angeles and spent the next few years working various jobs in the music industry. He managed artists, worked in a vinyl pressing factory and became a sound engineer.

In the 1980s, after getting married, Kevin and Monet decided to go into the music retail business. “Back then, tapes were still king,” says Donan. However, the couple saved a few thousand dollars, investing them in “several hundred records”. They started with a table in a bookstore in Glendale, then set up their own store in Hollywood, where As the Record Turns has been selling rare vintage vinyl for 34 years.

Stepping into the store is like stepping into a vault of musical treasures. Vinyl fills nearly every corner of the two venues at As the Record Turns, with vintage gear accessorizing the space. A few choice tunes, like a Jimi Hendrix 45 and signed records by Eartha Kitt and Vincent Price, are on display in a display case in the back room. A few more rarities hang on the walls, but you’re sure to come across more in the piles. Despite the store’s small size, digging here takes time; the on-site soundtrack section alone contains approximately 6,000 to 7,000 discs. And for as much vinyl packed in the store, Donan says there’s a lot more offsite. Donan himself has worked on a book and a documentary, “Film noir trackson the contributions of black artists to film music.

From the start, the store focused on classic versions in excellent condition. In the 1980s, that meant releases from Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Bassey, among others. Acquiring these records was not easy, especially since many copies of these records ended up in stores outside of the United States, but Donan traveled extensively.

“It’s a hard thing trying to get them back, but I did it,” he says.

In doing so, As the Record Turns carved out a niche for themselves at a time when record stores were more likely to focus on the latest rock releases.

“We made money on Julie Andrews records. We made money on Judy Garland records. We made money on Richard Pryor records,” Donan recalled. the world was fair game, as long as it was shrink-wrapped or sealed.”

Because Donan focused on finding copies that looked new or barely used, the store attracted another clientele: record companies. As Donan points out, before the cover was created digitally, the components were photographed – and the film aged. When it’s time to reissue albums, the best source of artwork might actually be a very clean copy of the original release. But there are other reasons labels might need to find their back catalog. Items may have been lost amid industry disruptions, such as mergers, or they may have been damaged in a major event, such as a fire.

In fact, about 11 years ago, Donan was tasked with locating the first pressings of the Chess Records catalog. At the time, he had something about a client fire. “I didn’t know anything else,” he says. Like so many others, he didn’t learn the extent of the damage caused by the Universal Fire until it hit the press years later.

Although As the Record Turns has a reputation as a vinyl locator for the entertainment industry, it also attracts music lovers who are in the neighborhood. If you walk down Hollywood Blvd. between Highland and Las Palmas, you’ll almost certainly miss As the Record Turns amid souvenir shops, tourist resorts, and the bustle of sidewalk traffic. To find it, you’ll take a small path between storefronts leading to a business courtyard, where the record store is positioned behind a fountain.

But a lot of people find it.

On the day of our interview, a group of young shoppers ventured into the store and leafed through the trash cans. Earlier today, Donan says, someone from New York stopped by and came out with an anime soundtrack from Japan.

It turns out that there is no typical customer at As the Record Turns.

“You can’t tag a person because they’re wearing a certain T-shirt that says I went to that concert,” Donan says. “Then they ask you for a Dolly Parton record from 1969 or a Vincent Price record.”

Jack L. Goldstein