Real Groovy Turns 30!

Real Groovy Records  celebrates its 30th anniversary on Queen’s Birthday Weekend with 3 Days of live local music, deals for  club-members, giveaways, live bands and  festive activities!  

For the last thirty years Real Groovy Records has anchored itself on the local music scene and the Auckland cityscape, and this Queen’s Birthday weekend (June 4 to 6) it will celebrate its 30th birthday.
One of the longest running music retailers in the country,  it has established itself as  a meeting place and a landmark, but ultimately a destination to discover a wide spectrum of music and pop culture, on a never-ending list of formats  from wax cylinders, Shellac 78s, vinyl, cassettes, CDs, VHS tapes, DVDs, books, and magazines to t-shirts, posters and toys. Also a dedicated ticket outlet the store offers tickets for a wide variety of shows. Open 364 days a year, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Real Groovy.

Its humble beginnings started in 1981 when Chris Hart and Chris Priestley kicked Real Groovy off at 23 Mt Eden Rd (one block up from the Powerstation) – when on occasion it would open from 7am for commuting customers. After several moves to accommodate the ever-growing business, in 1991 it settled in its present location at 438 Queen Street (in an earlier life it was the Metropole Ballroom and later a Peugeot car showroom) . Chris Priestley left to start the Java Jive, Kerouac and Atomic cafes, while Hart remained with the  business.

Real Groovy began to grow even more,  because it was, and still is, different from other record stores. Fiercely  independent from the start, Real Groovy was the first and only store offering  the concept of trading used albums and movies for new. Coupled with a speedy and comprehensive import service for both shop stock and special orders, it quickly became the  haven for music and movie fans, attracting customers from around the country. Staffed by an ecclectic, knowledgable, and sometimes unique array of personalities, the store has built and retained a huge database of customers, many of whom were with the store when it first started.

The early 1990s saw Real Groovy’s foray  into concert promotions, touring now legendary artists such as Buddy  Guy, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Queen Ida, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Lucinda  Williams and scores of others who would not otherwise have made it to these  shores.

Many touring  musicians and personalities stopped in at the store.  Morrissey, Kurt  Cobain (who bought an LP by local group The Axemen), Little Stevie from The E Street Band, Jarvis Cocker, Dave Grohl, Carlos Santana, Sonic Youth, Metallica (guitarist Kirk Hammett purchasing a Fleetwood Mac LP!)  and even Clive James  have all rubbed shoulders with other customers while trawling for “that rare gem”.

In 1996 the  successful and highly regarded Real Groove music magazine was born, and the  Groove Guide followed a few years later.

Since restructuring in 2008, getting  back to core business has been Real Groovy’s focus with a close-knit team of staff who  are expert, loyal and incredibly committed. The shift back to vinyl LPs by  music fans wanting high quality sound is being catered for with all major new  release LPs being carried in stock. Supplementing these are huge collections of used albums being imported monthly from the USA, EU and  UK.

The huge building on Queen Street is now shared with the vintage clothing  store, Peachy Keen, Atomic Espresso and the Listening Post hi fi store, with more tenants on their way.  “The model for a half-acre record store no longer exists,”  says Hart. “We are actively gathering complementary businesses around us, to  preserve Real Groovy’s value as a destination”. With business partner (since 1996) Marty O’Donnell their vision is to take Real Groovy into the future. While the music industry is still working out what position it is in,  Real Groovy will provide what customers want, and the ‘experience’ when they visit the store. Their online presence is strong  and provides a cornucopia of treats for customers unable to make it into the city location.

And as a pop culture haven, Real Groovy has also found a niche with its  book range, carrying titles seldom seen in mainstream and mall stores.

Says  Hart: “ Real Groovy couldn’t have existed if it hadn’t been for the support of our customers over the years. While Auckland was the ideal size for a single deep-catalogue music store, as opposed to the range of specialist stores found in larger metropolises, it was the embrace of our customers that enabled us to grow and develop into a world-class music haven.
When we started Real Groovy I must admit that I wasn’t thinking about  where we would be in 30 years’ time. It’s been a fantastic ride, with plenty  more ups than downs. We’ve had a lot of great people working here over the  years, and have a fantastic team right now. I’m excited to see what shape Real Groovy will take in the coming decades”.

REAL GROOVY RECORDS, 438 Queen Street, Auckland 30th Birthday – Queens Birthday Weekend – Saturday 4th to Monday 6th June 2011.
LIVE PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE from 11am each day with performances from
Tono & The Finance Company, Panther & The Zoo, Black Palm, F In Math, Caitlin Smith & Her Make Believe Band, Chris Priestley & Friends, The Situations, The Broadsides, The Bloody Souls, Thee Rum Coves and more to be confirmed
– visit for more information.

Click here to listen to the 13th Floor interview with Real Groovy founder Chris Hart: