A Brief History of The Diskery
'Birmingham is rich with music heritage and The Diskery is living proof of that legacy.'
The Diskery as a record vinyl shop is synonymous with music ask any vinyl collector in Birmingham and this much loved institution will be some of the first words uttered. It is much more than a vinyl shop though…………The Diskery is located on Bromsgrove Street, next to the Hare and Hound pub, opposite the music venue the O2 Academy and is prominent in the heart of Southside, Birmingham. It is one of the very few remaining independent record shops in Birmingham. It is quite possibly Birmingham’s most loved record store, The shop is likely to be the oldest record vinyl shop in the country, with a history dating back well over half a century.
In 1952 the first record chart saw Al Martino’s ‘Hear In My Heart’ awarded the number one spot. In that very same year Morris Hunting started a small jazz specialist shop, The Diskery in Moor Street. The shop quickly expanded with the explosion of popular music and there quickly followed a move to Hurst Street. In 1972 The Diskery made one more move to its current location on Bromsgrove Street. Morris may have started off as a jazz collector but soon started to add other music genres to the shop. With an ever expanding and diverse range of music and with new records imported directly from the America introducing new sounds to a growing public who had an appetite for new music, the shop went from strength to strength. With The Diskery being at the forefront of this new explosion of music, it soon became a popular haunt for many local musicians, who could explore music and exchange ideas, including the likes of Robert Plant, UB40, Slade and Ranking Roger, who are household names today. Many other peeps have popped into The Diskery from time to time including Lenny Henry, ELO, Jim Bowen, Chaka Khan, Steve Winwood, Black Sabbath, Paul Barber, Joe Cocker, Jimmy Page and Winston Edwards to name but a few. The Diskery was featured in Graham Jones’ 2009 book on the demise of record stores, “Last Shop Standing”, later turned into a docu-film featuring Paul Weller, Billy Bragg and Johnny Marr.
In 2012, the legend, Morris Hunting, founder of the world famous record vinyl shop The Diskery, passed away. At the time manager of The Diskery Jimmy Shannon, said: “Morris was a real legend in music in Birmingham………. “Morris started off as a jazz collector and it snowballed into a full-time enterprise. I do not think that the Birmingham music scene would have been anything like it became without this shop.’ Morris was integral to the success of The Diskery, as it was his vision and passion that was all part of the mystique and success of the shop. If we are talking about characters then we cannot go any further without mentioning Jimmy and Liam. An integral part of The Diskery’s success are these two absolute characters, long standing members of staff, the ‘double act’ Jimmy Shannon and Liam Skully. It is their love of music, depth of knowledge and their willingness to share this with everyone who visits The Diskery that has made it the shop that it is today. After 47 years at The Diskery Jimmy ‘The Oracle’ retired in 2015 and Liam has taken on the managers role having been at the shop for a mere 44 years.“ It’s got to be the longest stint as an apprentice,” according to Lee Dearn, who took over the Diskery in April. So a new double act is being forged between Liam and Lee.
Looking towards the future for The Diskery, Lee states, ‘there is always going to be a diverse range of second hand, rare vinyl records,78’s, CD’s and cassette tapes – with genres ranging from jazz to swing, prog rock to classical, disco to hip hop, folk to electronic, reggae to dance, Motown to northern soul, punk to funk, soul to R&B and everything else in between. The Diskery is renowned for sourcing and stocking music you would not get anywhere else and this includes music related items such as gramophones, radio’s, record players, retro and vintage bits and bobs so a little something for everyone. However we do not want to be complacent at any stage, so we aim to widen out our presence in the community. ‘ To this end in 2015 The Diskery and Ikon Gallery joined together for the ‘At Home with Vanley Burke’ exhibition and we recently forged closer links with Southside Birmingham and WhatsOn. Throughout all of its time, The Diskery has maintained a wonderful, friendly atmosphere, with an interior décor best described by Sam Coley They’ve loyally stuck to the shopfitting blueprint for the classic vinyl store. Faded promo posters - record covers stapled to the roof - and handwritten cardboard labels indicating quirky categories like; ‘Bits and Bobs’, ‘Big Band Goodies and Much More’, and my personal favourite ‘Cheapo Rock’. I especially love the faded signwriting outside the store that promises ‘Good Disco Music’. But, of course, it’s the wonderful team at the Diskery that really makes the store so special. ’. Where else can you go to browse through the vast stock, be offered a mugs of tea and a biscuit, jam drought if you are lucky, trade banter, discover music, ask advice and come away with a smile on your face and hopefully some vinyl in your hand. The Diskery is much more than a record vinyl shop, it’s a must visit destination named as one of the five treasured records shops in the country by the BBC. So why not put a visit to The Diskery on that to do list and support this unique shop. If you are a music lover and are visiting Birmingham, make sure you visit this store. The Diskey continues to be an integral part of Birmingham’s rich cultural history.