Legendary owner of Essex Road’s Haggle Vinyl goes on the record with book
PUBLISHED: 14:30 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:47 19 September 2017
The name Lynn Alexander will strike fear into the hearts of music lovers around Islington.
As the owner of Haggle Vinyl in Essex Road, he was seen as something of a curmudgeon – sometimes to the extent of putting people off shopping there altogether.
He closed the store in 2014 to pursue his passion for flamenco guitar, but now he’s written a book detailing its history and other stories about his life.
Lynn contacted the Gazette after our interview with Mark Burgess, owner of the neighbouring Flashback Records, which mentioned him as the rival record store owner who told customers Flashback sold porn.
Last week a preview copy of Haggle Vinyl’s Final Quaver! arrived at the Gazette headquarters. In it, Lynn talks about his love of jazz that developed while he was growing up in Stamford Hill and shopping at the “waste” market in Stoke Newington. He also claims he was the first person to be played the Match of the Day theme tune – by his friend, its composer, Barry Stoller.
A well-travelled man, Lynn spent time in Europe and in Israel before getting into the antiques trade, when he became a familiar face in Camden Passage.
He opened Haggle in 1998, with little knowledge of the record industry, but having decided there was something in it for him.
He describes the day he got the keys: “How exciting. I met the bloke at the premises, put the key into the roll-up security door that opened the front door and in we went. It was an utter mess.”
Initially customers were able to get quite the bargain because Lynn and his friend Paul weren’t wise to the value of records.
Then his son David came back from Africa to help out and things started to take off, particularly with reggae-loving West Indians.
Celebrities would also come in.
“I think there were recording studios in the area and the probability was that musicians would occasionally visit and look around the shop and comfortably be themselves,” Lynn explains.
“Pink Floyd, at times, was whispered in my ear by staff. My reaction would be nil because as yet that name had not yet registered with me, although we had their records of course.
“More recently, Dizzee Rascal marched in. I said: ‘I can’t possibly call you Dizzee Rascal. Please give me your real name.’ What a f*****g t**t I am. My shop is closed and he’s still working.”