[Photo outside the former Sounds at 20 St. Mark's Place by Panda Cat]
Brian Fair, owner of St. Mark's Sounds, passed away Thursday after a brief hospital stint, according to friends. (We'll add more biographical information as it becomes available.)
Sounds opened at 20 St. Mark's Place — above the Grassroots Tavern — in 1979. (He also ran an annex for several years in the early 1990s at 16 St. Mark's Place.) Sounds closed for good on Oct. 11, making it the last record store on St. Mark's Place.
[Photo by Alex via Flaming Pablum]
We asked three former employees at Sounds for their remembrances of Fair.
Brian was a curmudgeon, but a lovable one. Think of all the record store clerks you have encountered in your lives. He was the alpha of all of them.
I worked for him for seven years and I'm grateful for that time and experience. I learned a lot about life and music and had a lot of laughs. When I started touring and leaving New York every year, Brian always had a job for me when I returned. I always tried to swing by the store when I was in the neighborhood to say hi or exchange Christmas presents in years to come. We would linger on the steps and share stories and he always made me happy.
I can only imagine after 30 years of selling records and the decline of the industry closing the store left Brian with a void in his life. I only wish he had the time to relax and enjoy his retirement before leaving us so soon.
My first job in NYC 1984 was working for him remodeling record bins and building Sounds Video from the ground up. The mahogany cabinets at the store survived. A few weeks ago I was there and he said, "you know, what killed me — with a tear in his eye — the mp3. The mp3 fucking killed me."
[He was] a great person.
James Lawrence, who worked at Sounds since 1995, and alone with Fair the past eight years:
He loved rock music, especially hard rock — Motörhead. And since he worked so much in the shop he didn't get to go to many shows. Well, Motörhead sister group Girlschool did a mini tour of the states a few months ago. I knew the Girls from back in the day so we took the day off and went to Brooklyn to see the show. We went early and I was able to introduce him to the Girls. I could tell how happy Brian was. It was the last show he got to see, I believe.
That makes me happy.
Brian loved music. It was his life. He cared about people underneath his gruff appearance. I remember Kembra from Karen Black gave him a homemade card thanking him for his support in the East Village music scene. When he read the card he started to cry.
That's the Brian I knew.