the death of a salesman….this one’s for kev
it was the 21st century type of death notice….by seeing a post on facebook yesterday. i was shocked and looked twice to see if what i was reading is what it appeared to be. it was.
he wasn’t a famous author. nor a famous musician, although he played a fierce guitar. he was a dad, husband, son and friend. a young man in his early fifties, with a bit of heart trouble but nothing that medicine wouldn’t take care of or so we thought. he needed to stop drinking and smoking and to start eating right. i’m sure he did none of that. and so the heart stopped beating the other day.
he had worked as a road manager for a band y’all know. and then he got a job in a record store. he knew what it was like to talk music with a customer, play something new for them and then the thrill of getting them to love it as much as he did. a passion for the music…he had a lot of that. and he really loved his next job as a salesman for an indie record distributor very much. and we loved having him with us.
in the food chain of the record business, being a salesman is considered by some as being close to the bottom. a salesman. the person who carried a bag and worked in the streets. lots of paperwork, checking on shipments, following up on calls. he didn’t jet to hollywood or new york, nor sit in high level meetings with media giants. no bmw or mercedes. no grammy shows to attend. just a guy who loved music and loving being able to make a buck or two at it.
what he did very well was to take the music that was written, played, produced, mixed, marketed, advertised and publicized…and make sure it was sitting on the shelf of the record store in case someone walked in looking for it. he sold to the local stores, large distributors and a few national chains. he developed lots of contacts and solid relationships. he was well liked and trusted. that was important to him…to have integrity. and so he did.
when an artist came to town, he took them around to meet his customers and maybe stop at a radio station or two. share a meal, show them the city. he was available night and day, seven days a week. and he didn’t care if it was someone just starting out or already successful…they were all special and important to him. he was an old school music man.
a few years ago he started seeing the local record stores he loved get acquired and merged with the bigger stores. the smaller ones went out of business. and then the bigger ones soon followed. tower, virgin, specs, national record mart, waxworks, sam goody, harmony house…gone. the distribution company he worked for was sold two years ago and he and his colleagues lost their jobs. some have found new ones and others have not.
working with a couple of record labels, he was able to hang on and keep doing what he loved. and although he did it well, it was hard to make that buck anymore. the business was dying.
he was a salesman. one of the best i’ve known. and i’ll miss him dearly.
kevin bradshaw….may you rest in peace.