Vinyl Record Collector Spotlight

“Collector grooves with Rock memorabilia”
Collector’s Spotlight
Record collector’s roots
     are in psychedelic ‘60s

By LinDee Rochelle ● For ANTIQUE & Collectables*
Volume 23 Number 8, August 2001
*After more than 25 years, this venerable newsmagazine is no longer in circulation

 Admit it, boomers. When we were in the middle of a flower-child happening, few of us recognized the impact our generation would have on American culture more than 30 years later. Sure, there were moments you wanted to suspend in time (and some of us tried), but considering our numbers, the number who actually saved all their memorabilia, or even began one collection, is low.

Meet Marilyn Eisenberg of Phoenix. Beginning with her musical and artistic roots planted in the fertile phantasm of the psychedelic ‘60s and early ‘70s, Eisenberg has amassed more than 3,500 vinyl records.

“I knew it was a special time,” said Eisenberg. “Most of my friends were 10 or 12 years older, already immersed actively in the culture, doing whatever their profession was, trying to make a difference and trying to make a contribution. I was really raised on that, being very in tune with nature, growing up in Southern Cal.”

Flower power was more associated with the Haight-Ashbury phenomena of San Francisco and the raw concerts at the Filmore, Avalon and Matrix. But Southern California made its own contribution to rock ‘n’ roll history. “I saw both Beatles’ tours at the Hollywood Bowl,” recalls Eisenberg, “and the opening act was the Beach Boys (first tour). I was only 12. That was a radical experience, being in the audience of what you’d already seen on Ed Sullivan and elsewhere. You couldn’t really hear them, but it didn’t matter, you were part of the experience.”

Eisenberg’s Hollywood Bowl experiences started when she was 9, with her musician mother, who was also an usher. She grew up on live performances, from classical to rockabilly. “My parents raised us on Broadway shows, so that’s what we played in the house.” But it was rock and roll that seized her spending capital. “I think the first vinyl I remember buying was probably ‘Meet the Beatles.’”

With incredible insight, Eisenberg recognized the musical revolution. “It was all about the times we lived in, which was our cultural renaissance of the last hundred years. The focus of my collection is really British Invasion and San Francisco Psychedelia. Everything I could get my hands on and stuff you would never find today—compilations and recordings of concerts. Sweetwater comes to mind, because everyone wondered what happened to that band. It was extremely experimental music.”

Many musicians created and experienced the power of these times, even if only for a fleeting moment. Test your ‘60s boomer memory on these vinyl gems from Eisenberg’s collection: Blue Cheer’s live album “Vincebus Eruptum” from the late ‘60s, complete with a nubile nude maiden on a cover that bore absolutely no writing; Fairport Convention’s “Fairport Chronicles” with Sandy Denny’s haunting voice silenced so early by a brain tumor; and edging into the ‘70s is The Flying Burrito Brothers’ acoustic-inspired album with Chris Hillman.

Eisenberg’s more celebrated vinyls include Bob Welsh’s last recording with Fleetwood Mac, “Future Games.”

Other favorites are Grace Slick’s last album with Great Society, recorded live at the Matrix in San Francisco, and a Jimi Hendrix live album from Germany, “Welcome Home,” still affixed with the original price sticker of $3.99. Another of Eisenberg’s tuneful treasures is the pristine copy of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s nude cover album, which was quickly whisked off the shelves in May 1968. She still keeps it in the original brown-paper wrapper—mostly because they had “pretty ugly bodies.”

From a picture disk of Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie” to rare bootlegs of Rolling Stones’ live performances, Eisenberg still feels the excitement of the era every time she listens to the incredible creativity captured in each black groove.

However, not all vinyl albums are black. While still in high school, a friend traveling overseas called Eisenberg and asked her which souvenir she’d like. “Bring me back an album,” Eisenberg told her. “She brought me back a Rolling Stones album on orange vinyl … and all the written stuff on the album is in Chinese, but it’s an English-speaking album.”

During the eclectic ‘80s, Eisenberg’s collection grew by leaps and bounds as she reveled in the bounty brought home by her musician boyfriend, who worked at a local music store. “He would bring home these promotional albums; many of them became big-name acts. I remember one, showing people no one had heard of, was the Split Ends.” They were joined by the cutting-edge sounds of Talking Heads, Cars, Devo and Culture Club.

Eisenberg has not only collected her life in vinyl, but lived her life in music and art as she taught the correlation between art design and music by day, and attended backstage soirees by night. Remember when the Stones claimed to have cleaned up their act, deep-sixing drugs, in the early ‘80s? The post-concert party in the Hollywood Hills says Eisenberg, “… was like a scene out of ‘Scarface’. They were rude to the hilt. They were definitely alive and well, and living the lifestyle they said they weren’t.”

Not willing to jeopardize her UCLA teaching position, Eisenberg kept her distance, but also kept her memories alive with every Rolling Stones album she could find. While she enjoys the Stones, Eisenberg’s musical tastes are discriminating. “To me, The Beatles always represented art. The Stones were just entertainment.”

Logistically speaking, owning 3,500 fragile vinyl records creates more than a few problems. Moving from one home to another is always a daunting experience—especially when you’ve done it 26 times since leaving the proverbial nest. However, she does have original commercial record-shipping boxes from before technology made our world smaller. Storing them is no simple task, either. And how do you choose only one memory to play back, when there are so many flooding your mind?

Eisenberg isn’t interested in selling or trading. “I want to enjoy what I collect,” she says, refusing to keep her collection “… pristinely hidden, tucked away in a vault, so I can’t worry about it falling apart.”

She believes we created our own society with music, which begat a whole new culture in fashion, politics, and architectural design.

“To me, it was a very positive message. It wasn’t this ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ thing. It was about, you can make a difference in your environment, you can make a difference as a woman, you can make a difference contributing as an artist. You have something to say that’s important, get out there and say it!”

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