“I moved to San Francisco when I was 15 as one of the first wave of hippies, and I lived in Haight-Ashbury,” says Ric Addy, owner of Shake, Rattle & Read. “The way I lived out there was by selling underground newspapers like the Berkeley Barb and the Los Angeles Free Press. I helped build People’s Park, and I did the Fillmore thing. But by 1970 things started to go downhill.” He says the collective tripping at a rock concert with thousands of other would-be artists and writers who wanted to change the world had been replaced by the solipsism of addiction. “It wasn’t the psychedelic experience anymore–it was things like heroin and speed.”
Addy moved to Chicago and started working in the record business. “I ran two Rose Records stores on Rush Street during the height of the disco years, during the heyday of all the big disco bars, like Faces and Carol’s. Later I learned the used-record business by working for the Record Exchange in Evanston.”
In 1986 he bought his sister’s used-book store near the corner of Broadway and Lawrence, inheriting her huge collection of used books. Later he added to the stock. “We specialize in collectors’ paperbacks from the 30s, 40s, and 50s–some with really lurid covers like this one,” he says, reaching for a pink book with a crazed-looking Amazon on the cover. “This one’s called Twisted, and it’s an early ‘lesbian’ novel. Along that same vein, we have a big collection of 40s and 50s men’s magazines. One of them’s called Bikini Girls With Machine Guns–which also happens to be the title of the new Cramps album. But you can find a full range of books here–from old science fiction and pulp magazines to Shakespeare to first editions of beatnik poets like Ginsberg and Kerouac.”
Addy has also added used records, tapes, CDs, and videos. He has a large selection of contemporary music as well as a number of treasures. “A couple weeks ago I sold a rare Judy Garland album that had a handwritten love letter from Judy on the cover. The Judy Garland section’s pretty full. Here’s Judy in Love With the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in old Capitol High Fidelity,” he says, flipping through the section. “We’ve also got David Bowie picture discs and Miles Davis Japanese imports.
Underneath the store–where there are secret tunnels and rest rooms that belonged to the Green Mill Lounge on the corner when it was a speakeasy in the 1920s–Addy keeps a stock of books equal to that upstairs. He also has large collections of comic books, fanzines, posters, and rock ‘n’ roll magazines (director Oliver Stone has regularly used the magazines as props in his movies).
Addy is also a DJ at the Riviera nightclub during breaks at rock concerts and an A and R man for Elektra. “What I do is go out, listen to bands, and then recommend a few to the record company. Last month the record execs signed one of the guys I recommended, named Michael McDermott, who has kind of a Springsteen sound.”
Addy likes to mix and match mediums and styles. “I have my own band called Six-String Massacre, which is kind of a “performance art rock ‘n’ roll’ thing. We never do the same show twice. We do cover songs, and I dress up in character. We combine two different styles–like M.C. Hammer and Hank Williams–hillbilly hip-hop or something like Twin Peaks meets Elvis. Like in my store, people seem to get into the combination of literary stuff–or TV and movies–with rock ‘n’ roll.”
Shake, Rattle & Read, 4812 N. Broadway, is open 11 to 6 Monday through Thursday, 11 to 7 Friday and Saturday, and 12 to 6 Sunday; 334-5311.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/J. Alexander Newberry.