Who the Fuck is Williams?

buckingham_nicks_webLindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks
Buckingham Nicks
PD 5058

When collecting vinyl, ‘holy grails’ are a dime a dozen because we all have a bunch of them. A grail record is one that you’ve been searching for forever or is maybe an LP you once had and lost and now finding it represents a link back to a time in your life good or bad. Or maybe its an album that is perceived as highly collectible and you want it for yourself (the most popular ‘grail’ is that infamous Beatles Yesterday and Today ‘butcher cover,’ which probably isn’t as rare as people think).

Or maybe you’re more of an obscurist like Paul Major, who prefers independent label vinyl (reaching way back) and has no time for what most of us consider ‘collectible.’

Either way, we all have our own personal grails and one of mine has been the Buckingham Nicks LP, the one Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks recorded at Sound City back in the early 70s (the record was released in 1973) and the one Mick Fleetwood heard when he approached the duo about joining Fleetwood Mac in like its trillionth incarnation (B and N said yes and the band went on to explosive heights and fantastic drug-fueled and interpersonal drama).

I’d never seen Buckingham Nicks in used stores and bins (although I recall it when I was a teen buying records first run back in the 70s/80s). I had also never heard a cut off of the record but I knew I wanted it anyway, especially after seeing that Dave Grohl doc, Sound City.

So when I finally found Buckingham Nicks at Purple Dog Records in Naperville, IL, for the low price of $12, I grabbed it from the shelf, my heart beating a step faster for having finally found this thing. I pulled the record out of the sleeve to give it a visual inspection (you can do this) before purchasing because if the thing was scratched to shit, I wasn’t buying it just to have it.

The tracks looked okay except the first cut seemed a little worse for the wear. I asked the owner of the store to play it (and you can do this too), and – to my shock – the vinyl played absolutely clean. So I told the owner it was a no-brainer, I’d take it.

That said, I now had to consider the shape of the jacket. And, frankly, for a lot of collectors, this particular one would’ve been a deal breaker because somebody named Williams scrawled his name across Lindsey Buckingham’s left shoulder in black Sharpie.

This is an issue with collectors – unless the artist signs an album, an owner probably shouldn’t do this. But I can see why people feel compelled to do so – they think by putting their name on it, it’ll somehow signify ‘true ownership’ and when they loan it out, the borrower will feel obligated to return it to the person who chicken-scratched across the jacket. Of course, anyone who’s loaned out a record has probably learned the hard way that they’ll never see it again, regardless of putting their John Hancock on it. And, anyone who has ever borrowed a record from a friend probably knows they’ll never return it to its rightful owner (I still have a copy of Steely Dan’s Katy Lied I borrowed from a chum back in 1978 – thanks John!).

Anyway, I personally don’t care if someone writes their name on a jacket or a label. In fact, I find it charming — knowing that this material item actually has some sort of past. And I always wonder, when I encounter a ‘signed’ record, who the fuck is the person who signed it and do they ever think of the record – that I now own – and wonder where the hell it went?

So, ultimately, I finally have my Buckingham Nicks but with a ‘Williams’ autograph. Now I don’t know who the fuck you are Williams, but your Buckingham Nicks finally found a good home.

And, oh by the way, Buckingham Nicks is really good.

© 2016 Chris Barry


2 thoughts on “Who the Fuck is Williams?

  1. I wrote “DM” in the upper left corner of my albums back in the ’70s. You could go to a friends house, casually flip through their records and say “Oh hey, I forgot you borrowed this”. As they were the primary means of hearing music, we didn’t see it as decreasing value.
    Now when I find an album in the wild that has someone’s mark, I give them credit for keeping it in good shape. I have no problem with personalization or jacket condition; if it’s beat up and the music is clean, it did its job well.


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