If you’re a record or memorabilia collector, don’t miss last month’s Wall Street Journal article on Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman. Craig, who I first met in the 90’s when I was an executive at Warner Bros. Records, has 750,000 records. That’s right, three quarters of a million albums. That’s got to be the largest record collection in the world. If your significant other thinks your collection is out of control, send them a copy of this article for a reality check.
And while quantity doesn’t often equate with quality, Craig’s collection is amazing. For many years, he only wanted sealed original pressings, or absolutely perfect examples of the records he sought. In the past few years, he’s relaxed his standards a tiny bit to simply mint, “to create a working library for his artists, songwriters and producers.” He’s also got exacting standards for his incredible memorabilia collection.
And none of this would impress me if Craig didn’t love music as much as anyone I’ve met. This is a man who lives and breathes music. Whenever he comes to Los Angeles, he calls to see if I have anything new. If he visits, we’re talking music when he’s not on the phone talking to an artist or executive. He’ll leave late on a Saturday night, heading off to visit an artist or two in the studio, then waking up early for a Sunday morning breakfast with another artist. I worked at major labels for twenty years and rarely if ever did I meet anyone as obsessed with music as Craig.
He’s converted the Manhattan apartment next to his into the ultimate listening room/recording studio/office/record haven (see it in the Journal article’s accompanying slide show.) Craig’s got 40,000 records there — about 2% of his collection. He often takes meetings with musicians there, as well as recording tracks with Atlantic artists in the studio. When I visited earlier this year, he was talking private press Hip Hop records with a mutual friend. During a lull in the conversation, I asked him to play us something, and he put on the first Hot Tuna album. Now that’s eclectic.
If I was a young recording artist, this is the guy I’d sign with !