Jim Salzer - The Heart of Rock & Roll

Can anyone who grew up in the Tri-Counties during the Sixties imagine their teen and early adult years without Jim Salzer? I certainly can't. Jim wasn't only a promoter, he was the very heart of Rock & Roll in our area from 1965 to 1972, years when most of us were beginning to define ourselves as individuals and musicians and coming of age.

Jim was born in Chicago, but moved to Milwaukee in 1960. By day, he stocked paint shelves and installed awnings, but by night he played guitar and sang with local bands. That didn't last long, though. Only a couple of years later he moved west to California where, in 1966 he opened Jim Salzer's Arcade Record Shop, the now—and then!—legendary music store in Oxnard's Carriage Square.

For so many of us, Salzer's was a musical mecca. Not only did the store sell both popular and hard-to-find LPs, Jim also carried "head shop" items such as incense, Indian bedspreads, rolling papers, water pipes, love beads, and psychedelic posters. No one ever just dropped by Salzer's—it was a place to spend entire afternoons, meet people, talk about music and find out what was happening in the local music scene. It was cool, bitchin'groovy, outtasite—whatever slang word for fantastic was popular at any given time. No trip to Ventura Country was complete for me until I went to Salzer's (I lived in Santa Barbara County from 1959 to 1969). Most of us didn't know Jim, but we felt we had an ally during a time when the Establishment worked so hard to misunderstand and malign us.

As time went on, Jim opened a shop in Thousand Oaks, relocated his main store from Carriage Square to a plot of land where Victoria Avenue meets the 101 (Salzer's Mercantile), and then built a video store across the road. Both of which are still doing a bang up business.

But for many people, Jim will always be famous for the now legendary concerts he promoted at the Earl Warren Showgrounds which starred Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and Led Zeppelin to name only a few. For a while he even managed the Doors.

Jim Salzer is not only a Gold Coast legend, he's also a success story and his contributions to music during those exciting years are nothing to take for granted. I can't even imagine our music scene without his influence and presence. Happy birthday, Jim. Thanks for everything you gave us!

(Why not stop by Jim's Facebook page and tell him Happy Birthday?)


Neva said…
I have fond memories of killing time at the Victoria Ave store when I was a teenager in the 80's. I bought my first pipe at the head shop there! Ah, memories!
Joey M...... said…
Nice factoid to know. Carraige Square Shopping Center was where Salzer's got it's start.. I worked at the Carraige Square Theater back in the late 80's.
SK Waller said…
I spent a lot of time at the shop in Carriage Square, but I was happy when the Victoria store went in. It's still a cool place. Thanks for commenting!
SeilerBird said…
Jim did not open a record store at the Ca ridge Square shopping center until 1967. The original Arcade Record Shop was in south Oxnard at a shopping mall. It was originally owned by Tom Ayres, who left to work at Hannah Barbara Records as a promoter. He sold the store to Bob Richards who was a KACY disk jockey in 1965, After a few months he sold it to his mom, Marie at the end of 1966 and she hired me on Bob's recommendation. Her husband suffered a heart attack in Feb 66 and she basically left the running of the store to me. So in June he finally died and at that point she sold it to Jim along with me.

That store was very small, maybe 15 feet by 15 feet and not big enough, classy enough or in the right neighborhood for Jim so he closed it and opened the Carriage Square store near the end of 1966. He also opened a store in Thousand Oaks, It wasn't until 1967 that he started promoting show at Earl Warren.

And btw I did not use drugs in the 60s so my memory is pretty clear.
Anonymous said…
The first record store/head-emporium I ever entered in the early 1970's.

Early on, as a young teen from a small Pennsylvania town, I would pick-up copies of the LA Free Press and the Berkley Barb here, along with peace signs and stickers that read 'Vietnam: Love It Or Leave It ' and such gems as, ' America, Change It Or lose it'.
I also bought leopard print rolling papers (innocently for my Dad) and an assortment of incense and other hippie memorabilia .

Light a fire ? Jim tossed gasoline on a counter-culture epiphany !