Thursday, June 28, 2012

Record Bar in the Liberty Plaza, Erie, PA 1970 to 1976

Record Bar at 3524 Liberty St. circa 1973. Photo ©Mike Lyon 2012.

Record Bar in the Liberty Plaza, Erie, PA 1970 to 1976

Record Bar opened at 3524 Liberty Street in the Liberty Plaza in Erie, Pennsylvania in Dec. of 1970. This was one store in the chain owned by Trans Continent Record Sales. Len Silver was the President of Trans Continent, which was based in Buffalo, NY; they also owned Porter Electronics.

The Liberty Plaza store remained under the name Record Bar until at least 1976. The name was later changed to Record Theatre so all the stores in the chain would have one name (and possibly to avoid confusion with a totally unrelated Record Bar chain based in North Carolina).

Mary Lombardo transferred from the Record Bar on State Street in Downtown Erie to manage the new Liberty Plaza Record Bar, which opened a couple of weeks before Christmas 1970. Early staff members included Steve Juskewycz (the second manager), Mike Lyon (the third manager), Lee Taylor (the fourth manager), Bill Sheely, David VanAmburg (1970-71 and 1973-74), Leo McCabe and Mike Nuber. 

Record Bar at 3524 Liberty St. circa 1973 with David VanAmburg
playing guitar behind the counter. Photo ©Mike Lyon 2012.
Mike Lyon was named manager in 1973 and was fired on Sept. 13, 1973.  He opened his own store, Record Country, in July 1978 on Buffalo Road in Wesleyville, where he was in business for 26.5 years. 

Lee Taylor and Bill Sheely (who both played in the band Lincoln) purchased the Record Theatre locations in Erie shortly after that and changed the name to Razzberrys. They had stores at 3518 Liberty St. and 927 State St. (and one short-lived store in the West Erie Plaza). Lee died Feb. 26, 2000.

Mike Nuber aka Rasta Mike, was the lead singer of Symon Grace and the Tuesday Blues (which also included organist John Novello). They had an East Coast hit with "You Won't Get Me Workin" whose lyrics state: 'You won't get me workin'/Oh no/'Cause I tried workin' before/Let me tell you that workin' is a drag.' Rasta Mike only worked at the Record Bar for a few weeks. He lives in the Edinboro area. 

Other employees of the Liberty Plaza Record Bar include: Wanda Bialorucki (worked there around 1972; she died Oct. 27, 1995), Pam Verity (1972 to 1976), Bob Dobiesz (worked until the fall of 1973), Jimmy Daly, Missy Trocki, Carolyn Weiss, Carol Pollock (drove a yellow Mustang), Cathy Briggs and Bridget Sullivan and RussMarie Johnson (1974). Bob Seaman, Billy Hodak and Richie Kowalczyk (another member of Lincoln) also worked at Record Bar.

Record Bar was so popular that Grants decided to close its record department in the Liberty Plaza location due to dwindling sales.

Enjoy more fun facts about the history of Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie


  1. I worked at LIberty too, for a short while in 1983-84, when Bob Seaman was there. Still miss Lee.

  2. Thanks for the post, Debbi. Hi, Paul!

    We all miss Lee, Wanda and Pete Mahler, the State Street manager.

    Mike Lyon was one of our most sincere and dedicated co-workers. Lee and Bill bought the business just as retail record stores were trending downward, making their lives challenging.

    Steve Juskewycz did amazing business with his Midnight Madness sales, before going on to global businesses. Wow, I have no recollection of playing music while on the job. :) Maybe that was another Stevie promotion?

    But I do still have many of the records I purchased from the store.

  3. The Record Bar was as iconic to Erie as Tower was in Hollywood. It was cool to just go in and hang out. I worked at Martin Riell Mens Shop, and got all my "mod" clothes there and shopped for records at the Bar. I remember one particular day flush with cash, I bought the Joker- Steve Miller, The Smoker You Drink - Joe Walsh, Queen - the first album, On the Beach - Neil Young and Night Vision - Bruce Cockburn.