This site is dedicated to Wilbur DeLaney, entrepreneur, jazz lover extraordinaire and proprietor of Wil's Record Shop. First established during the early '60's, the shop was located on 125th Street on the east side of 7th Avenue (now known as Dr. Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Blvd). The venue was extremely small in square footage but without a doubt, unequivocally large in sound and following with a huge offering in Gospel, 45 RPMs and of course jazz albums. In 1967, the location became the chosen site for the development of the Harlem State Office Building. Wil was forced to temporally close his doors. With a deep affinity to 125th Street, he moved to a bigger shop diagonally across the street to the west side of 7th Avenue. Here, he was 2 doors down from where the infamous Chock full 'O Nuts, owned and operated by the late great Jackie Robinson once stood, and off the corner of what is still known today as the Black capital of the world - 125th Street and 7th Avenue. Jazz musicians, lovers of jazz music, people from the neighborhood to those from all over the globe passed through the doors of Wil's Record Shop at one time or another. Regardless of the individualities, all were seeking to hear the sounds of America's true art form, Jazz, and perhaps hear a story about a beloved musician to go along with it.... Wil had a treasure trove of stories, some to make you laugh, some to make you cry just as music often makes one do.Born January 13, 1926, Wil was born in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. His family moved to New York City when he was 5 years old, shortly after the great depression. It was at that tender age that Wil instantly became a true New Yorker. He had endless stories about growing up in Harlem, told so vividly you could picture the people standing in line at Father Divine's church where you could get a full meal for 5 cents and all you had to do was peace. Or, how, as young boys he and his friends would gather early on Sunday mornings to pick up all of the coins off the sidewalks that fell from the pockets of the Saturday night revelers, who came uptown to hear the jazz musicians at places like Connie's Inn, The Renaissance Ballroom or to the Cotton Club. Many of the people of Harlem were so poor during those days they didn't even know they were poor; they thought that was just the way it was... For many families, moving from block to block every three months, having a still (an apparatus for making liquor) on the roof and hosting rent parties with fried chicken, red rice, and potato salad on the menu was a way of life.... a good life. People were friendly, kind, and lived by the code of love and respect.Wil's first introduction to jazz began as a teen when he saw Lester "Pres" Young play at the Apollo Theatre, on West 125th Street. It was the beginning of a tender and beautiful love affair whose spark turned into a passion for music. Though he never learned to play an instrument, Wil had countless stories about the lives of each and every musician there was to speak of and then some. His audiences would sit in rapture as he painted the scene of little-known vignettes, and personal stories giving the listener a deeper look into the life of the musician. This site is dedicated to the musicians of yore. Those who laid the foundation, paid the price, got up every time they were kicked down, by a cruel and demeaning society, and continued to play that jazz. They never gave up their art, their gift, their courage, their heart, their love of jazz. Their fortitude was amazing.Interestingly enough, while Wil had his first great jazz encounter at the Apollo, seeing Pres, whom he loved more than life, he also had his last encounter at the Apollo, with another jazz artist, whom he admired from the depths of his soul - Miss Josephine Baker. Miss Baker was scheduled to make a rare appearance at the Apollo Theatre - it was perhaps one of her last. Wil, whose reputation as an official, innate music aficionado was called upon just prior to the performance by the stage manager. He was asked if he would do the honors of handing Miss Baker her microphone just before she went on stage. There were many crowning glory moments in his life but that one was the epitome. As they say, it was the cherry on top!Please, be my guest and relive the excitement of walking through the doors of Wil's Record Shop for a true musically, magical, transformational, unique, and everlasting jazz experience.
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