With a rich history and humble origins that date back to 1971, Rasputin Music feels like a music-lover’s version of paradise! Starting as a single store, Rasputin Music has now grown to become the largest independent record store chain in San Francisco’s Bay Area, and it’s a fixture of the city’s music culture. The chain was originally founded by Ken Sarachan, an entrepreneur, who named it “Rasputin Records” after 19th century Russia’s infamous, debauched and self-proclaimed holy man Grigori Rasputin. The first Rasputin store was opened on Durant Avenue, from where it was moved to Telegraph Avenue. After that, the store moved to a larger place before splitting into two stores, with one catering to rock music and the other specializing in soul, jazz, and other genres.
A Little History on Rasputin Records in San Francisco
But it wasn’t all roses for the chain; back in 1982, a fire in the lot next to the soul and jazz store destroyed that Rasputin outlet; a serious setback for a small business like Rasputin. The chain continued to plow through the difficult times, though, and we can all see where it stands today. With seven outlets in the Bay Area, including the flagship store that’s now on Telegraph Avenue, and six other branches in Haight-Ashbury, Newark, Campbell, Pleasant Hill, San Lorenzo, and Fairfield, Rasputin Music has always been a favorite for people who love to explore the best of old and new music. Aside from the Bay Area stores, Rasputin Music also has branches in three other locations in the Central Valley, in the cities of Modesto, Stockton, and Fresno.
Back in the day, Rasputin Music was popular for offering records at prices that were lower than other contemporary music stores in Berkeley, like Leopold and Tower Records. This, coupled with the fact that Rasputin’s collection of records has always been rich, varied, and informed, drew in crowds who have stayed loyal to this day. In fact, if you quiz any Rasputin Music loyalist about what makes this particular chain their favorite, they’re likely to talk about one thing: the store’s diverse record collection. And it’s true because you can find the best of the Bay’s music here.
Rasputin’s success isn’t just down to their catalog, though; it’s also about their approach. People who visit the stores are often taken in by how helpful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable the staff is about the music they sell. Great music is about sharing the things you love; Rasputin’s been at the heart of that in San Francisco since the 70’s.
Rasputin Records, Record Store Day and Metallica
Metallica Plays Rasputin Records in BerkeleyApart from selling wonderful vinyl records, CDs, and DVDs, Rasputin Music also occasionally features some exceptional and memorable in-store performances, including a long-term relationship with Metallica, who played Record Store Day at Rasputin last year (check out the perfomance HERE), and once broke a ten-year absence from playing for fans in stores by playing at Rasputin in 2008.
If you’re a music-lover and you’re from San Francisco, or even if you’re simply stopping by in the Golden City on your way elsewhere, drop into one of Rasputin Music’s stores and check out this little slice of heaven for yourself – and check to see if you’re going to catch an up-close show by a band you love, or might love soon!
Photo courtesy of CC/Flickr Paul Miller