|Mike Lyon standing in front of Record Country at 2905 Buffalo Road in Wesleyville, Erie Co., PA|
Mike Lyon opened Record Country at 2905 Buffalo Road in Wesleyville, PA on July 6, 1978. He moved to a bigger location at 3306 Buffalo Road in 1982. Record Country was in business for over 26 years, and eventually suffered the same fate of thousands of record stores across the U.S.
His love of music started early in life when he listened to his favorite groups on the radio. He began buying records at Murphys, Kresge's, Woolworth's and Grants in Downtown Erie and getting weekly surveys from WJET, WWGO and WGYN. Mike had an oldies show on WERG-FM when he was a student at Gannon College in 1973.
Mike learned the ropes of the record business while working at the Record Bar in the Liberty Plaza from December of 1970 until 1973. "One time one of the higher-ups came down and I told him that I had thought about opening my own store," said Mike Lyon in an interview with Matthew Rink in the Gannon Knight on March 28, 2003. "I never should have done that." He was let go on September 13, 1973, shortly after this discussion with management.
Armed with a degree in accounting from Gannon College, Mike next worked at General Electric just long enough to save the $15,000 he needed to start his own store. The rest, as they say, is history.
Record Country evolved from a place where you could buy a 45, album or an 8-track into a hangout for teenagers and musicians looking for the newest metal, punk or hardcore record or CD. The store was know as a tastemaker account amongst major and indie record labels. At its peak in the early nineties, Record Country reported its top record sales weekly to several trade magazines, including Album Network, CMJ, Hits and Billboard, and to local radio stations such as WJET and K104.
In addition to prerecorded music, Record Country also sold t-shirts, magazines, buttons, bumper stickers, posters and other items. The store sold concert tickets for the Erie County Field House beginning with the Mahogany Rush/Head East show on July 28, 1978 and continuing until the last show there in 1983 (Judas Priest). The store sold tickets to the first few concerts at the new Erie Civic Center before TicketMaster took over ticket sales.
The store carried tons of local bands on consignment. I will list some of these in a future post.
Record Country shut its doors in December of 2004.
You can read about the Record Bar in the Liberty Plaza here: