Trapped squirrels and £4,000 records - behind Norwich's Press to Play

Andy Tillett, owner of Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street, with a couple of his favour

Andy Tillett, owner of Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street, with a couple of his favourite Bowie vinyls. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

With its walls adorned with pictures of Jim Morrison, the Beatles and David Bowie, Press to Play been in Norwich for over 23 years.

During that time, owner Andy Tillett has served star shoppers including Jools Holland, Bob Geldof and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore at the store on the city's St Benedict's Street.

He says that when he started in October 1997, videos and CDs were the best sellers, with vinyl almost treated as a thing of the past.

Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Mr Tillett said: "It's almost turned around now, it goes vinyl first, CDs second and DVDs last.

"Vinyl was certainly not popular in 1997, everybody was wanting CDs, even the major shops like Virgin hardly did vinyl. They might have done a little but not a lot.

"Hardly anything was being pressed, that's why the records of Britpop bands like Suede are worth a fortune now as they were such limited runs on vinyl.

Andy Tillett at Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Andy Tillett at Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"But vinyl is now number one, and it has been for four or five years really, it's picked up more than ever in the last ten years."

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He says he has the shop's close proximity to Norwich Arts Centre to thank for being visited by some of his musical heroes.

Andy Tillett at Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Andy Tillett at Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

He added: "Thurston Moore came in when he was playing there with Michael Chapman, he bought all sorts of stuff from blues to rock and roll, and even a Lou Reed picture disc.

Andy Tillett, owner of Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street, with a couple of his favour

Andy Tillett, owner of Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street, with a couple of his favourite Bowie vinyls. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"And then when I went to see him at the gig, he mentioned it.

"When Bob Geldof came in he signed a few things for me and said 'I suppose our stuff isn't selling', I didn't like to say no to him."

Mr Tillett says the quirkiest records he is currently selling are a set of Thunderbirds EPs which tell the stories of International Rescue at 33 and a half speed, currently priced at £15.

Fairly rare to find, Thunderbirds mini albums, at the Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Stre

Fairly rare to find, Thunderbirds mini albums, at the Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The rarest record the shop has ever seen is The Beatles first album Please Please Me on a black and gold Parlophone label, which sold for £4,000, but is now thought to be worth almost double that.

During his time running the shop Mr Tillett says the funniest story is when a squirrel got stuck in the store overnight causing screams from customers and late night calls from concerned friends.

Famous artist's names on the vinyls at the Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture

Famous artist's names on the vinyls at the Press to Play record shop in St Benedicts Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

He said: "It poured down with rain and it ran in and behind my window and the customers were screaming.

"Then someone had gone past in the night and seen him in there, and rang me in the middle of the night saying 'I don't want to alarm you, but I think you've got a squirrel in your shop."

Mr Tillett's shop is open from 11am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday and open until 6pm on Saturdays, and the shop's website is: www.presstoplay.org.uk

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