Mary J. Blige. Lil’ Kim. Ice Cube. Aretha Franklin. Kool Moe Dee. O.J. Simpson when he played for the Buffalo Bills.
And a young James Johnson Jr., who would gain fame under another name.
They are just a few of the famous faces who have dropped by Doris Records since Mack S. Luchey opened the store on East Ferry Street in August 1962.
Fifty years later, the East Side institution with connections all over the world celebrated its golden anniversary Monday.
“When it opened in August 1962, gasoline was 25 cents a gallon. A lot has changed,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown, as he proclaimed Monday “Doris Records Day in the City of Buffalo.”
From 45 rpm records to LPs; from monophonic to stereophonic sounds; through four-tracks, eight-tracks, cassette tapes, CDs and DVDs, Luchey has seen and sold everything the music business has had to offer.
“As the record industry changes, I move with the times,” sai Luchey, who was in his early 20s when he opened Doris Records, now the region’s oldest record store.
One of his fondest memories is a story about a young man named James Johnson Jr., who grew up next to Doris Records in an apartment building that stood in what is now the record store’s parking lot. Johnson loved music, and every day he came into the store, Luchey would play music for him. One day, Johnson asked to take a look at a Motown album cover that was on the wall behind the counter. Then he asked for a pen and piece of paper to write down the contact information for Berry Gordy Jr., founder of the groundbreaking Detroit record label.
“I laughed and told him, ‘Jim you must be crazy,’ but he was serious,” Luchey said. “Five years later, here comes James Johnson in the store. I said, ‘Hey Jim.’ He said, ‘It’s Rick James [now]. I told you I was gonna make it.’?”
“I’ll always remember that,” Luchey said.
In the 1970s, James signed with Gordy Records, a subsidiary of Motown, where he recorded his debut solo album “Come Get It.” It sold more than a million copies when it was released in 1978.
James died in 2004 but left a lasting impression on Luchey, who was 10 years older and owned the building where James’ mother ran a restaurant. James sent him the rent money for his mother’s restaurant.
“He would call up and ask if his mother was all right. Whenever he came into town, he always made it a point to come to the store,” Luchey said.
The store is named after Luchey’s ex-wife Doris, who died in 1996. The two met around 1960 when Doris was working at Audrey’s Record Store on Broadway - the first black record store in Buffalo, Luchey said.
The couple divorced in 1975 but always remained friends.
“I always loved music, so I used to stop by Audrey’s all the time. That’s how I met Doris. She was the face and name of Doris Records. I was the business mind,” said Luchey.
One of the Luchey’s most famous house guests was the Queen of Soul. In 1967, Franklin was in town for a concert, and the couple met up with her afterwards.
“She came over to the house, helped cook breakfast and told dirty jokes until 6 a.m.,” Luchey said.
Now in his 70s, Luchey does not plan on retiring. In fact, he has diversified the shop over the years by adding sportswear, handbags and other goods for sale. But he still has a stock of 45s and LPs in the store.
“Canadian customers prefer vinyl. It’s softer. Digital [music] is real sharp,” said Luchey’s son, Derrick, who works in the store.
And, he added, “People still come in here for needles for their record player.”