Under the hammer: Dr Rock's 5,000-strong record collection
IT is a treasure trove that a vinyl collector could only dream of - 5,000 records, everything from rock '˜n' roll and blues to jazz and Mongolian folk - with much of it signed.
And now it’s about to go under the hammer.
The collection of ‘Dr Rock’ himself, BBC radio presenter and biographer Charles White, is to go on sale at Ryedale Auctions in Kirkbymoorside later this month, alongside an impressive collection of memorabilia - including art, photographs, and the jewel in the crown, Bill Haley’s gold disc for Rock Around the Clock.
Mr White, who has hosted his Sunday night rock show on BBC Radio York for 25 years, has amassed the collection since he was a child growing up in Ireland.
“As a kid when I first heard rock ‘n’ roll it was like getting out of the bastille - it was full of fun,” he said.
“It’s a unique collection of several thousands. There’s not just rock and roll, there’s an ethnic collection from Peru, Mongolia, the Burundi tribe in Africa, Indian and Tibetan music...the list goes on for pages and pages - and the catalogue isn’t complete yet. It’s vast - well over 5,000 records.
“It’s become just too much. My dear wife has been highly tolerant but she wants her house back.”
Mr White, who was a podiatrist by day before retiring, was born in Dublin and moved to London for medical school, where he met “lovely Yorkshire girl”, Annie, who later became his wife.
They settled in Scarborough, despite his knowledge of Yorkshire being little more than the “steelworks of Sheffield and black and white dreary photographs of the Moors” from his Irish school geography books.
His nickname arose after he founded the first ever course in rock ‘n’ roll at Scarborough Technical College, and opened a dedicated museum to the genre in the town in 1984 - for which much of the memorabilia was collected for.
Many of the records and signed memorabilia come from his time researching Little Richard’s biography in 1984, when he met a host of stars including Ray Charles and Michael Jackson.
He first met Little Richard in the early 1960s and he became a great friend,
“When I heard Long Tall Sally and Tutti Frutti I thought he was fantastic, and I was almost expelled from school for listening to it,” he said. “I met him in Mansfield in 1962. Before he came on, the tension was amazing, and he went straight into Tutti Frutti - the perspiration was flying off him.
“He was the second King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and didn’t get the attention he deserved. He became a great friend and still is.”
Mr White has met dozens of stars over the years, including Michael Jackson twice in the 1980s, in New York and in Hollywood.
“He was very shy, very hesitant - almost nervous of life,” he said.
Some of the other artists featured in the collection include Elvis, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys. There is a vast collection of Chuck Berry, around 50 albums, most of them signed.
There’s also a collection of 150 film soundtracks that is notable by itself, featuring music from Jaws, the Bond films, musicals like Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music, plus a collection of comedy recordings featuring the likes of Bob Hope, Laurel and Hardy and Peter Sellers.
Mr White, 75, added: “I will be sad to see the collection go. Some of the covers are magnificent works of art. But it’s time.”
Last year sales of vinyl topped three million - the highest in 25 years.
The UK’s first weekly vinyl chart was launched in 2015 by the Official Charts Company, and last year, more than 3.2 million records were sold.
Dr Rock is not surprised at the medium’s resurgence in popularity.
“Go into Sainsbury’s or any other supermarket now and you’ll find vinyl . I think it’s great,” he said.
“They are now having to making new vinyl machines to keep up with the demand.
“There’s nothing like the tone or clarity you get with a vinyl record. I think they are wonderful.”
Dr Rock’s collection will be sold at Ryedale Auctions on September 29.