After I bought out my business partner in 2013 or so, I was still doing part time hospital work and I needed someone to work a few days at the shop.
Nigel was a regular customer and total enthusiast. I had met him when he was volunteering at the Oxfam Music shop on Raeburn Place and sometimes he would offer to do a shift if I was ever short staffed. So when I needed the help I didn’t advertise. It was just, hey Nigel would like some paid work?
And he slotted in perfectly wth VoxBox Andy. The shop has never been so Rock and Roll since those days.
Google has us pinned as a “quirky shop for vinyl”. Sometimes I’llbequirky- for 40 year old Simpsons fans… and I always have been attracted to the unusual. Nigel had an unusual appetite for music. Nothing fazed him. And he was a bit unusual. God broke the mould after making Nigel. There aren’t any others. And boy could he talk! Many rode into St Stephen Street to come record shopping with us and left with a bag of vinyl but having to carry their horse up the road.
Have you heard the one where he was kissed by Marc Bolan!
Nigel walked out of a Led Zeppelin concert more than once due to overlong soloing.
Or… “I couldn’t stand Jim Morrison but I loved his music” I don’t think they ever met but I think Jim would have had his work cut out with Nigel.
He had that thing. It’s often called a love of or passion for music but that doesn’t convey it enough. Better described as he totally gave a shit about music but with no prejudice in taste. It is a joy to be in the company of someone that has this spark. It is so important to care about something. Admittedly, he enjoyed some music that I don’t care for and chartier stuff too and he helped me broaden my musical tastes -both in what I like and for the music I now know I don’t.
Add to that an encyclopaedic knowledge of Reggae, Dylan and the Grateful Dead. He was the perfect employee. Inspired by the VoxBox Vinyl Show on Edinburgh Student Radio he sought out a show of his own and found one and totally outdid us recording ninety (90!) two hour episodes on Glasgow’s SubCity Radio. All vinyl.
It can be a lonely world until you meet others that feel the same as you do. Between his life absorbed in music and latterly his work at Oxfam, VoxBox and his radio show, I think he will have made connections with a host of people and enriched the lives of many. How many customers became great friends?
He quit VoxBox one day. I think he liked his freedom more than any job.
He still came in and asked about the family. He was glad the shop was doing ok.
He was moving house with his immense music collection and would be further away so wouldn’t be able to pop in as often.
He was our John Peel for a while and I cherish the time he spent with us.
I last saw him when I was working a set of night shifts doing my other job in Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital last year during the first wave of coronavirus admissions. When looking after someone else on the cardiology ward I had been surprised to see his name on the computer map of the ward and I wondered if it could be him. I was aware of some medical complaints he had. So I went to visit at 7am. I was hoping it would be another Nigel. Sorry to other Nigels out there, but I was hoping it was you with a mild ailment, rather than my Nigel.
My Nigel was awake and in good spirits and we had a wee catch up. I planned to come back to see him the following morning at the end of the shift. That wasn’t to be due to a busier following night and feeling like a dirty rag at the end of it due to exposure to coronavirus. No-one wants to kill their friends.
I’ve forgotten to do a lot of things this past year and I regret not sending him a message since then.
I heard he was poorly last week and was able to get a few paragraphs to him.
…Thank you so much Nigel. It’s been a long strange trip.
I’ll hopefully see you browsing in the record shops on the other side…
He died in his sleep, at home with family beside him on Sunday.
Good night old chum.
Nigel’s Sub-City Radio shows survive and can be heard here:
“Two hours of solid vinyl from the CHUST SUBLIME collection. No CDs, no streaming, just pure vinyl. No genre and no theme. Just wonderful music. Listen and enjoy”