Friends of Lysergic Sound Distributors
Here you can find photos, interviews, and other information about some of the musicians and other "under-the-radar" characters we love and think you should know about.
Mike Ragain 1947-1965
Mike was the talented and extremely charismatic singer for The Knights, a tight and hard rockin' four piece garage band formed in late 1964 that was based out of Olney, Illinois and Vincennes, Indiana. Even though all the members of the band were talented musicians, there was no doubt that the band's ever-increasing popularity was centered around the magnetic persona and stage presence of the animated singer. Mike's unmistakable star quality was something that was very obvious and music fans from all over the region began to take notice.
In November, 1965, just as things were really revving up for the band and their popularity was really gaining momentum, Mike was tragically killed in a car accident. Fans of the band and members of the community were stunned - he had also been a star athlete in high school, an outstanding artist and was well known to almost everyone in the area, often seen roaring down the city streets on his motorcycle. Mike's funeral, held at the Lutheran Church on the east side of Olney, Illinois, and the ensuing procession to the cemetery, which was several miles in length, are both still among the largest ever seen in the community.
Mike was a very influential and admired individual; many bands were
started in the area after his death, most of them owing their roots to
his early musical influences. Many people who saw him perform still talk
about him although it's now almost 50 years since his untimely death;
almost all agree that he has that "something special" and was certainly
headed for stardom. Personally, he certainly had a very obvious presence
about him that I've only seen in a few individuals in all these years.
Sadly, there is no known recorded evidence of Mike and his band's
performances to let the world hear how good they were and how great they
were going to be.
R.I.P. Michael Roy Ragain.
The following is an interview with Stephan Colloredo, founder and owner of Jellyfish Records, a UK area mail order, web-based vinyl record business that specializes in high-end original pressings of psychedelia, obscure and homemade vanity recordings from around the world. Stephan is generally acknowledged to be one of the top three psychedelic dealers, along with Taro Miyasugi, owner of Anaconda Records in Tokyo, in the world. He offers many of the rarest, most sought-after, and valuable records ever pressed and continues to do it on a regular basis.
Steve Purdy (SP): How does one of the top psych dealers in the world start his career in this obscure but very competitive field? I assume you were a collector at one point; how did things change and the stakes get so much larger?
Stephan Colloredo (SC): My exposure and fascination to all types of music started at a very early age and by the time I was 11, I started compiling and trading mix tapes in my boarding school in exchange for homework, food, and pocket money. A couple of years later I started scouring the flea markets and second hand stores for vinyl, pretty much anything I could get my hands on but with a heavy emphasis on Blues and late 60's Rock. Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Velvet Underground and so on.. Once mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs came into play in my early teens I was hooked even more and spent every minute I could around the turntable with an insatiable drive to explore all types of music. I recall one day finding a trashed copy of Can - "Tago Mago" at a flea market. This record completely blew my mind back then and opened up the doorway into the world of obscure Psychedelic and Progressive music. This was almost 25 years ago and I have continued exploring and collecting Psychedelic music to this day.
Shortly before graduating I dropped out of school and decided to travel the world working as a chef in various restaurants across Europe and eventually ending up in Toronto, Canada. During my years there I spent all my free time browsing through the bins of record stores and compulsively buying anything that looked remotely interesting and obscure. I also got a subscription to Goldmine magazine, visited record fairs on the weekend and occasionally bought from specialist mail order dealers. Those catalogs back in the day provided me with a wealth of knowledge and information , specifically in regards to what people were generally willing to pay for the elusive rarities. Records I could pick up cheap in Canada were selling for double the money in Europe so I started building up a small trading network to enhance my own collection. This led to a point where I would spend almost every day before starting work at the post office mailing and receiving boxes. My own collection grew rapidly and in conjunction with some obsessive/compulsive tendencies, it did not take long until I had accumulated over 10,000 LP's. I would buy multiple copies of certain LP's, constantly trying to upgrade and then trade off my doubles for new records. My list of contacts and collectors was massive by now and I started selling the odd record I did not like to people that had sent me want lists. Eventually I quit my job as a chef , moved to California and started selling records full time on a small scale while still very much collecting and adding more records to my own collection. Continuing like this for several more years on a daily and very furious pace, I finally burned out a bit and started questioning my reason for this compulsive accumulation of vinyl. I had become quite reclusive, dedicating all my time to sorting, cleaning, and filing records, while actually losing interest in playing them.
So I started selling off my personal collection and finally viewed this as my full time job/profession . I changed my approach and attitude towards collecting and used my knowledge and connections to make this into a business. Being a record dealer has changed considerably over the years and since the days of the Internet knowledge about pressing variations, values, etc. is much easier obtained and it has become a larger and broader market.
In the old days one could go out and consistently find rare records out in the open and sell them for a very handsome profit. Nowadays dealing in high end rarities is very different and all about a steady influx of supply, a willingness to pay extremely well and not being too risk averse.
SP: Since your business depends on a steady influx of high-end material and we know that kind of stuff rarely is found in your own backyard, you obviously have to travel extensively. How many days a year are you on the road and how many miles do you log annually in the never-ending search? What's the most out-of-the-way, God-forsaken remote place you've ended up on one of your quests?
SC: Obviously I'd fly anywhere in the world for a quality collection or some much needed high end LP's. I'm on the road approximately 6 months of the year, mainly North America and Europe and have booked over a million flight miles since working as a full time dealer as well as approximately 300.000 miles by car. My travels have taken me from remote areas in Saskatchewan to as far south as Cyprus and most areas in between.
SP: I've heard some pretty interesting tales regarding a couple of buys you made and want to run them by you. I heard you once were in a record store somewhere in Europe and were unusually impressed by the contents, so you just bought the entire store, including the fixtures; just about everything but the wallpaper. And ....... I also heard that one time, in order to buy a rare stash, you actually had to join the church of some whacked-out cult preacher and make a large "donation" to his church - - - True stories???
SC: There is certainly some truth there but as with all "tales" there is also a bit of exaggeration.
I did buy an entire record store in Europe but it was one I had been frequenting for years and I knew the owner very well. One year on his way home from work he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, his son took over the store and business went downhill rapidly. One year on one of my usual visits there the owner approached me and asked if I was interested in doing a bigger deal as business had been somewhat stagnant. After a few beers and lengthy discussions I offered to buy 1000 LP's out of his inventory of Rare Psychedelic and Progressive LP's. It was Friday afternoon and he went to talk to the two employees of the store. They were not happy with the deal as they did not want me to cherry pick the best stuff. After a few more hours of talks and deliberations he offered me the entire store and his private collection on top of it. We agreed on an amount, the employees were fired and I had until Sunday evening to clean out the entire store. I quickly organized a couple of giant trucks and hired a handful of people off the street to haul and box the entire inventory of 40,000 LP's, 10,000 Singles, 5,000 CD's, 800 Music DVD's, and a massive poster collection. Included in the deal was also the company car, the furnishings and an amazing Bosch Coffee maker. Those 2 days were certainly amongst the most hectic in my life.
The second story is also somewhat true but did not involve me directly. A friend tracked a good Christian Psychedelic record from California and talked to the bandmembers who were all still part of a tiny obscure Church community. They still had several copies of the record but felt only someone devout to their church deserved them. After long talks he met them personally, joined their community, and had to make a nice donation to the church in order to acquire the records. Shortly after all the copies ended up with me.
SP: Is there any one phenomenal score that really stands out for you over the years or have you found so much exceptionally rare stuff that it all blends together?
SC: The past several years I have rarely if ever searched for records out in the "wild". Good scores are far and inbetween and in the long run searching in the wild is not profitable enough to make a living.
SP: How about one find "in the wild" that stands out in your memory - - - - one that was very exceptional that you just lucked into without a lead of any kind?
SC: But of course like most other dealers I had a stretch of about 5 years in the beginning where I would go out almost daily hoping to find some rarities and did have my share of success. Some memorable finds that come to mind is a copy of Search Party for 49 cents at a Salvation Army store. A mint copy of Christopher - "What'cha Gonna Do" for $14 and maybe the best find was the only known copy of Fingletoad, Strange & Siho in a small store in California for a few dollars . At the time completely unknown and in the meantime reissued on Vinyl and CD. After all these years It's still the only copy that was ever found.
SP: Is there a "Holy Grail" - type item (or items) that has eluded you over the years that you are still trying to find?
SC: Of the well known "Holy Grail" type LP's the majority have landed in my hands at one point or another. Often I have sold the same copy of a Rare LP 4 to 5 times. I recall selling the same exact copy of a Bent Wind LP 5 times. People stop collecting and sell it back to me, or they decided they need the money and sell it again, etc.. And so it wanders from collection to collection with me being the middle man.
One local LP that has always eluded me and that I would still get very excited about is a copy of Rin Eric - "Soundtrack to the Movie in your Mind".
SP: All serious collectors know the Tiger Lily label; its bizarre history and the fact that many of the releases on the label are very, very, rare and almost impossible to find. You are said to own the largest collection of Tiger Lily releases in the world, possessing almost the entire known discography. How many separate titles do you own and does the collection include all of the biggies? Were you able to obtain any kind of quantity from any one source?
SC: My fascination with the Tiger Lily Label started many years ago when I found a small quantity of Steve Drake LP's as well as a few other titles such as Alan Gordon, Oliver Walrus , John Scoggins, etc.. in an old warehouse in California.
I started researching and set my mind to try and collect all the releases on the Label. At the time the Label was a complete mystery and not many releases were known. Overall just over 70 LP's were released and sofar I have collected 48 different titles and have been at a bit of a standstill the past couple of years. The majority of the ones I'm missing are completely undocumented or maybe even unreleased. The most expensive and best known release is "Stonewall" - I never managed to purchase a copy for myself but I did sell one for a friend a few years ago. Another biggie that always eluded me is the rare Soul/Funk LP "Sounds of the City Experience" and also an LP by the band Too Smooth.
SP: What are some of the very rarest records you've owned? Maybe 4 to 6 or whatever you care to mention.
SC: Some of the rarest records I've owned are:
- Fingletoad, Strange and Siho (only 1 known copy)
- An original UK Color Gatefold Pressing of Dark - "Round The Edges"
- An Obscure Texas LP called Metz, of which only 1 or 2 copies are known
- A couple of copies of Mariani - "Perpetuum Mobile"
- A copy of the rare double Maitreya Kali LP
- A sealed copy of CA Quintet
- And several more acetates and unique items such as Gold, Under Milkwood, and Fate.
SP: What are some of the rarest records you've seen but do not own for some reason or other?
SC: Most records I wanted to own I did manage to purchase at one point or another but of course there are a few that eluded me such as the aforementioned Stonewall, the double sided Flow LP, the second Index, and several more.
SP: What is the highest price you've paid for an individual record and what was it?
SC: The most I've paid for a record was $5,500 for the gatefold Dark "Round The Edges" LP.
SP: What the highest price you've ever sold an individual record for and what was it?
SC: The most I've sold a record for was $8,000 for that same gatefold Dark LP several years ago.
SP: Just two days ago, when we talked, you were in some remote part of the Czech Republic, heading to Poland. With the huge demand for the ever-emerging and highly collectible original African psych, have you traveled there on buying trips?
SC: I have never travelled to Africa in search of records. And would have no clue where to start or where to find records there. The best Psychedelic LP's seem to come from Zambia and Nigeria and I have some friends that frequent these countries and inform me if anything interesting turns up.
SP: I know you have many regular repeat clients, some of whom have standing eccentric wants re: what they collect. Can you elaborate on a couple of the more bizarre ones?
SC: Where to start? I believe the majority of collectors are quite eccentric and their wants reflect that. Some are looking for every possible recorded version of "MacArthur Park." Others only collect records with Female Lead vocals. I have a customer who collects 60's Beat/Garage covers only , preferably with the group dressed in white pants and standing in the woods... The list is endless.
SP: Have you had dealings with any celebrities who also happen to be record geeks like the rest of us?
SC: Not too many, but I do get occasional orders from Vincent Gallo and Henry Rollins....
SP: What's the largest individually-owned collection you've ever seen in one location?
SC: Difficult question. I know an individual that has amassed over 200.000 records. But I would call that just pure hoarding and way beyond the stage of sane collecting.
SP: Who has/had the most impressive individual (non-dealer) psych vinyl collection you've ever had the opportunity to see?
SC: I have seen a lot of very impressive collections over the years. And I know of even more that I have never had the pleasure to see. I can't really point to one collection specifically.
SP: Do you have employees? If so, how many and what functions do they serve? I mean, you don't do your own packing and shipping, do you?
SC: I always viewed record dealing as a very individualistic job so I never partnered with anybody and everything is still run by myself as a one man operation including packing and shipping.
SP: In your opinion, all things considered, has eBay been a good thing or a bad thing for the collector of rare psych vinyl and/or the rare record business?
SC: Well eBay opened up many doors for dealers and collectors alike. For better or for worse. In the pre-eBay days there was more fun and mystery surrounding many records and contact between collectors and dealers was much more intimate and personal. Now information is readily available, most records have soundclips, and the market has been flooded with certain titles. As one of a few non-eBay dealers, I don't feel it has affected me much but many other full time dealers have lost a lot of business.
SP: Where do you see the collectability of rare original psych vinyl going in the next ten years? Will it go the way of doo-wop vinyl, decreasing overall, or will it continue to escalate?
SC: That is a question we constantly ask ourselves and I wish I had an answer but I really don't. My overall prognosis is that certain legendary rarities will always be in demand even 10 years from now whereas the obscurer titles and certain private press rarities will have a decreasing demand. And I do believe that many records have already reached record high's. But I thought the same thing 5 years ago and values have just been skyrocketing.
SP: God-willing, if your business is still a profitable venture in ten years, do you see yourself still doing this for a living?
SC: As long as I'm still enjoying myself and don't burn out I don't see why not. I have been doing it long enough that I can't really imagine delving into any other business in the near future.
SP: Count, thanks very much! I appreciate you taking the time to do the interview. We'll see you in Austin in October - bring lotsa cash!!
Bruce Hamana wrote and recorded two albums, the first being the highly regarded self-titled album on the Canyon Label in 1974. This album is an excellent and tasteful mix of soulful acoustic and electric rural rock with a West Coast sound and some nice snakey guitar. This album has become very sought-after and commands very high prices on the collector market.
The second album, "Butchamana" on the Mother Earth label, leans more but not completely in the country rock direction and has a decidedly Native American theme throughout. This album has been criticized by Patrick Lundborg in his book, "The Acid Archives", and, although not as strong as his first album, it still is a heartfelt, soulful piece of work with some very nice electric guitar work. It is certainly much better than Lundborg's critical review indicates. This album is actually much harder to find than his very rare first LP. We've included a sound clip of the cut Borderland from the album here.
Bruce poses at his home on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona with his collectible first album and with a copy of our "Devil's Kitchen" LP.
Bruce still plays gigs in the Northern Arizona area and recently released a new CD entitled "Shine On".