02/03/08 — Put a record on ... one last time

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Put a record on ... one last time

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on February 3, 2008 2:22 AM

The albums inside The Record Rack are more than just inventory to owner Stan Hartley.

They are memories of a lifetime in music -- and reminders of friends made along the way.

So, this Saturday, when he closed the store after more than 35 years in business, Stan wasn't just selling off stock. He was saying goodbye to a career that he says hasn't made him rich, but has made his life full -- and getting ready for the next step in his musical journey.

A staple on Center Street, The Record Rack -- famous for specializing in beach, gospel, rhythm and blues and country -- was much more to owner Stan Hartley than just a building full of CDs.

It has become a part of him and a vital piece of the community.

For Stan, music isn't something new.

"I have been in music all my life," he said. "That's all I know."

When he was about 10 years old, he remembers his dad playing instruments.

"It didn't matter what he picked up, he could get something out of it," Stan said.

His dad didn't have formal lessons. He didn't have a book to play from. The music came from his mind, through his fingers and into the ears of his family. He was a natural.

Stan was the same way. He played what sounded good to him.

"I just hear it in here," he said pointing to his head. "And then I play it."

The instrument doesn't matter to him either.

He can play the drums, guitar and "three or four other instruments," he said.

And throughout the years, Stan has been in a few bands, helped produce albums and even gotten artists started.

But owning a record store had never been a goal. He was content with being on the production side of music.

The thought just hadn't come up until a question from a friend made him open the doors to the Record Rack's first location under the Goldsboro Hotel in 1972 -- a time when "the Stones were hot" and "LPs and 8 tracks were in."

"I had a friend that owned a record store in town, and he got ill and could only open the store a few days a week," Stan said. "So he asked me why I didn't open up a record store."

He thought about it, and finally, he realized that it made perfect sense.

The rest, as he says, was history.

"The walls in here could tell you some stories," he said. "And they would be some really good ones."

Autographed pictures of everyone from Billy Joe Royal to General Johnson line the walls, and most of them are his good friends.

As he walked up to the wall of pictures he has taken over the years, he told stories of meeting the artists, their friendships and, for many, their passing.

But a smile still crossed his face.

As he looked on toward the rows of CDs and cassettes, he said that he has known many of those musicians, too, especially the beach music artists.

Some have walked the streets of Goldsboro in years past just to see Stan and his wife Lynn.

That was the beauty of the store, Lynn says.

"This isn't just a record store," she said. "It's a place where friends and family come to visit, and buy their music."

And as patrons of the store came in to stock up on their favorite, hard-to-find music, they knew they would get a few more moments to chat with longtime friends.

"There are few people that walk through the door that I don't know," Stan said.

The store has treated them well over the years.

The sale of music hasn't made them rich, though, Stan said.

"But we are rich in other ways -- the people we meet, the people we have come to love," he said.

The time was just right to retire the Rack.

Stan and Lynn want to spend time together, listening to the Embers and shagging to the beat, just as soon as Stan learns how.