The first record I ever bought… by Noel Gallagher, Florence Welch, Janelle Monae, Thom Yorke, Elton John and more
By Paul Stokes, Updated 3 Sept 2019
Do you remember the first time… you went out and bought a record?
From record shops to downloads, everyone has that one initial recording they remember just needing to own.
6 Music’s Matt Everitt has been exploring and sharing musical firsts with a spectrum of artists on The First Time and his subjects’ first ever record is not only one question he asks everyone, but it’s one they all have an immediate answer for.
With a wealth of the The First Time archive available to listen to as a podcast right now, we’ve dug through Matt's vault to pick out some first records that inspired their purchasers on to musical greatness.
Karen O: I remember getting Queensrÿche's 'Silent Lucidity'. Do you know what? It's totally metal, but that was their ballad.
I didn't have great taste when I first started buying music for myself
I don't know how I came upon it. I didn't have great taste when I first started buying music for myself. That came a little bit later on!
My dad was into doo-wop. He had all these best of compilations, so I got a bit of everything. There were a lot of girl groups on those compilations, which I loved. That seriously shaped how I write and think about music. The song that sticks is 'I Will Follow Him' by Peggy March.
The Beatles was his band [too], so I grew up listening to a lot of that stuff.
Florence Welch: The first single I remember buying myself on CD was Eminem, ‘I’m Slim Shady’ – My Name Is. I must have been 11. It sounded so different and it struck me as an 11 year-old as being brilliant.
I used to stick The Corrs album cover on my wall
As for albums, I had The Corrs and the Spice Girls’ albums on tape, I loved them, I used to stick The Corrs album cover on my wall, but then I listened to No Doubt and got into American skate punk so Dookie by Green Day was the first album I bought.
Sir Elton John
Elton John: At The Hop by Danny & the Juniors was the first 45 I owed followed by Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite. When I first got my record player they were the first two 45s I had. I got them one Christmas. I played them, and the B-sides, again and again!
Music has been my companion since I was three years-old
Music is part of my life, it’s been my companion since I was three years-old and in times of joy and in times of solace it’s always been there for me either to pick me up or be in the depths of despair with me.
I’ve always listened to new stuff, I’ve always bought records. I’m an anorak, I’m a fan! And I still am.
There was a period of really dodgy heavy metal bands
Then after that there was a period of really dodgy heavy metal bands. Some people had those hi-fis with a microphone where the only way you could record your mates’ records was to stick the microphone in front of the speakers of another record player so there’s this weird tone to it.
I listened to some really bad heavy metal that way.
Janelle Monae: I worked at Footlocker and when I got my first cheque The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill had just come out so I bought two of those CDs.
I was as far away from a sunbeam as you can possibly imagine!
I got two because I had a feeling I would wear out one and I wanted a back-up. [Also] I wanted one for home and one for my mom's car so I had easy access to it.
I remember playing the album over and over and over again.
I'd do talent showcases singing the title track a capella and I won three times! Her music, her message, her skin colour, her hair... it all meant so much to me growing-up. It really did help shape my identity as a young black girl growing-up in the States. She really helped to shape me as an artist.
Noel Gallagher: The first single I was bought was The Show Must Go On by Leo Sayer because I’d seen him on Top Of The Tops dressed as a clown. I remember my dad buying it for me. The label on the record was something to do with Alice In Wonderland. It might have had the hare in a top hat.
The first single I was bought was by Leo Sayer because I’d seen him on Top Of The Tops dressed as a clown
Ironically, I would end up living on the same street as Leo Sayer for a while, but I never saw him. I know he was on that street because my tour manager at the time also did a bit for him and would say ‘You know Leo Sayer lives over there?’.
It came wrapped in a free poster and on the side it said ‘limited edition first 750,000 with free poster’. How many 750,000s were they selling? You couldn’t sell 750,000 of anything now on vinyl!
Shirley Manson: I have many records that I bought around the same time, a bunch of seven-inch singles that I clasped to my chest with great ardour.
I was as far away from a sunbeam as you can possibly imagine!
The first one I ever bought was The White Horses [performed by Jackie Lee] which was the theme song to a Czechoslovakian TV show [dubbed into English] I was obsessed by.
But I also have a little double A-side single with Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam and A Spoonful Of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down which was also a big game-changer for me!
Those songs had a profound effect on me, especially Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam, because I was as far away from a sunbeam as you can possibly imagine!
Paul Weller: The first single that was actually mine, that I bought with my own saved-up money was Wonderboy by The Kinks, that was in 1968 when I was 10. I was a huge, huge Kinks fan – I still am – and that was the first single of theirs I could afford.
I was a huge, huge Kinks fan
I’d have saved up pocket money or got it off my mum and dad.
My mum used to have singles too and I’d play her stuff. She had a few early Beatles singles, she loved stuff like that. And on the radiogram – which for the younger folk was a big bit of furniture with a drinks cabinet in one side and a lid you could lift up and under that was a deck – you could stack records on that so they’d play one after each other. So I would do that with the A-sides, then the B-Sides... then I’d borrow singles off my mum’s friends for a few days to listen to.
I’ve always loved records from the earliest time I can remember.
Kim Gordon: I first heard music in musical movies. You know the Parent Trap with Hayley Mills? Well, I think the first record I bought might have been Let’s Get Together from that movie. That might have been the seven-inch I first owned.
You’d go to the record store in anticipation of what the new Beatles single would be
That was when I was pretty young. Then it was Roy Orbison and the first Beatles singles. You’d just walk up to the record store in anticipation of what the new Beatles single would be.
At that age I didn’t ever think it was accessible for me to make music. I didn’t play music and it just seemed so glamourous.
David Gilmour: The first record I bought and which turned me around a bit was Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley, when I was ten. That was the first moment to me when I thought ‘this is something new and original!’
It is very hard to describe how new and revolutionary that sounded
It was superseded not very long after by Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley, which was a step up again, but that first moment with Rock Around The Clock… It is very hard to describe how new and revolutionary that sounded to me at the time!
I can remember where I was standing when I saw a Beatles record
It was I Want To Hold Your Hand. That was one of the first ones, but before that I think I bought a song by Freddy Cannon called Palisades Park. It was a bit of a fairground sounding thing, and The Orlons’ Sound Street. Those were the first singles I bought.
I was into jazz straight away
That was my uncle's. Then, soon after that, I bought a record called Walkin’ Shoes by Gerry Mulligan. Earl Bostic was a sort of R’n’B jazz player and Gerry Mulligan was out and out jazz. I don’t know why, but I was into jazz straight away. Soon after that I heard Charlie Parker and I loved it and I still do.
I still listen to the same records that I played back then. They have the same emotions for me. I love hearing Gerry Mulligan’s band of ’54.
Neneh Cherry: What I really shared with my dad when we were living in New York was listening to records. He would go out and come back with Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, and we would sit and journey through the record player.
Those records kept me alive because I was love sick
The first record I bought which was mine though, you won’t believe, was a Donny Osmond record. I was surrounded by all my dad’s friends, jazz artists like Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane and his records, but I bought a Donny Osmond solo record when I was about ten, that’s what everybody I went to school with was listening to.
Then, when I was 11, I went to live with my family in LA, in the Compton area. I had my first boyfriend there, fell in love for the first time and the stack of records I brought back from there when I had to go back to Sweden to stay with our grandparents was an important bunch for me.
It broke my heart but those records kept me alive because I was love sick. My brother and I travelled back by ourselves from there to Sweden, from the sunshine into the dark, cold weirdness of Sweden.
So the records I had with me from that trip were Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life, Johnny “Guitar” Watson's Ain’t That A Bitch, Deniece Williams’ Free, Parliament… they all became the soundtrack to my existence. I was clinging on to them.
My brother went: David Bowie is the original punk rocker, this is the real deal
My brother was a rock guy and a prog guy, he’s ten years older than me so whatever he listened to I thought was cool. I remember seeing that record in his bedroom when I was seven, and my brother went ‘this is the original punk rocker, this is the real deal’ which I think is kinda prescient of my suburban New Jersey brother.
So I bought David Bowie’s Fame and Gilbert O'Sullivan’s Alone Again Naturally. I feel like my life has been dictated by those two very different concepts. The self pitying new man invented in the 70s and an alien singing about Fame with a pitch transposer.
Somewhere between those two things lies my life.
Giorgio Moroder: The song I really loved was Diana by Paul Anka. When I was at school I went to a shop in the city next to mine and asked ‘What is that song? Italiana, Italiana?’ and they said there was no song like that.
I heard it again on the radio and wrote down the lyrics
So I heard it again on the radio and wrote down the lyrics and went back again a week later and told them and they went ‘Oh, you mean Diana! It’s a big hit.’ Then, almost 60 years later, I met Paul Anka at a function.
He was great. I was nervous so I said: ‘Hi Paul, it’s Giorgio Moroder…’ and he said ‘Oh Giorgio, it’s so nice to meet you. I spoke about you the other day. I did a programme for one of the shows and I was talking about one of your soundtracks.’
So we were both nervous meeting each other. It was actually nice.
It's not posh, it's to the point
It’s a good sounding little song. It’s got a good chord progression in the chorus, lots of backing harmonies going on. It's not posh. It's to the point.
I liked that and anything that had backing vocals, really, because that reminded me of The Beatles' records in my parents’ record collection that I'd listened to growing up. If I heard backing vocals I’d buy it.
Paul Banks: My parents were big fans of music so it was always on. I assume everyone grows up with music, right, but my parents were enthusiastically fans of music and we had a lot of LPs.
The first cassette I was desperate for was Michael Jackson’s Thriller
I used to be fascinated looking through my dad’s LP artwork. He owned two copies of every Santana record on vinyl. Apparently, he had bought one copy of each and then I think my grandmother gave him the full body of work of Santana on vinyl again.
I really remember they were impassioned about music. The first cassette I was desperate for was Michael Jackson’s Thriller which I asked for for Christmas. Then the first record I decided I had to go and buy this was the Cult Of Personality by Living Colour.
When I finally went down to buy Elvis' single it was gone... sold out!
It was Number One. I’d been looking at it in the record shop and record shops in those days didn’t only sell records, they sold hoovers and all kinds of other stuff, well the one I went to did anyway – and they had a little rack of singles.
I’d been in to look at it before my birthday – when I was going to get the money – and the Elvis single was there, but when I finally went down to buy it the single was gone! Sold out!
The Number One bit of the rack was empty but the Number Two rack had this song called Wimoweh by Karl Denver – which is the Lion Sleeps Tonight, basically – and I didn’t know what to do. They’d all gone, so stupidly, I bought the Karl Denver record.
I remember my dad said: ‘Why did you buy that bloody thing? It’s not even in English’.
I still loved Elvis though, so in the end I used to bunk into his films.