Record Rendezvous, Middle Earth and now Gottschalk Music Center

355 West 17th Street, Merced Ca  I’m not really sure but I think the original Record Rendezvous dated back to the mid 40s at that address.

It was the classic small town music store.  When I discovered it in the early 60s they had instruments on the left had side as you walked in.  Guitars and amps up front.  horns after that, drums then pianos and organs.  In the center was a counter.  To the right was a couple of long aisles of vinyl records and behind them 2 or 3 little cubicles with record players,with really uncomfortable, terrible sounding hard Bakelite headphones. 

You would hear a song on Sullivan, KYOS or late at night on XERB or somewhere else and go down to the  Rendezvous and listen to the whole disk.  I don’t remember anyone looking at you funny even if you stayed an hour.  If you had some money you could buy it.  I think the Meet the Beatles was $2.39.

I was already a guitar hound.  I had a Harmony F-Hole and the  Silvertone Jupiter but I really wanted a real guitar.   In 66 the Rendezvous  had a really sweet 64 Gibson SG Special with P90s.  I would play it everytime I was downtown.  I don’t really remember if it was used or still new but I just had to have it.  Somehow I put some money together after playing the 8th grade graduation and a few dates with Bob Caywood at the non-commisioned officers club and then somehow they let me made some payments.

Maybe I should call this post “guitars I whish I still owned”.

After Record Rendezvous Rick Jackson moved Middle Earth in from it’s previous digs on J st (fitting isn’t it).

Then he worried the whole town with Middle Earth Ballroom upstairs in the old dance studio.

Eventually it became the current Gottschalk Music Center. (now named 355 W. Main St.)

Record Rendezvous


  1. Record Rendevouz was owned by Wally Coates. He had a stepson, Paul Ward. I used to forge notes for Paul (aka Geebo) when he missed school. I spelled Wally’s name at least two different ways but no one ever caught it. Actually, the Thrifty store on R was a great place for records. I got the first Mother’s album, the Pretty Things, the first Captain Beefheart, etc. there before I had ever heard of them (except the Captain).

  2. I was a regular at Record Rendezvous in the early ’60’s. Drooling on the guitars and amps. I remember the guy, I think his name was “Wally”, always telling me not to touch any of the guitars. He’d say “would you want to buy a guitar that everyone had already played?”, or something like that. Anyway, I loved that store as a kid.

  3. I took my only guitar lessons at Record Rendezvous. The lessons were provided by Roddy Jackson – No, not that Roddy Jackson, but his Dad who played a sunburst Strat with a Maple neck that had “finger holes” worn in the fingerboard. I think I was 16 and those wear marks in the neck impressed the heck out of me.. He taught me to play Malaguana and Tea For Two and how to use all 4 fingers on the fingerboard. The lessons cost $5.00 for 1/2 hour and in those days minimum wage was $1/hr. He was cleaning up and he was also a good teacher.

    I caught him playing a gig at Atwater High with Gilbert Barbosa where they were providing music from the 40’s in style. He was a good player.

  4. My grand father Frank B. Clark sold the store to Wally Coates in the early 60’s and he passed away in 1965 I have pictures of when he opened the store!

  5. I worked at Record Rendezvous for many years at first selling on the floor then later buying sheet music. Between grade 7 and college, I purchased three drum sets from RR. I taught drums up stairs and had a few good potential and promising musicians as students.
    I always admired Wally Coats in that he loved music. During the San Francisco Symphony season he spent nearly every Thursday in the Bay Area buying music supplies and instruments by day and attending the concert performance in the evening. On Friday, he would often tell me about what pieces the orchestra preformed on Thursday night. I was a blues rocker but was fascinated with what classical music had to offer. Wally was a business man that had to interact with young people charged with inquiry and passion over guitars and drums. RR was our main access to the ever changing music equipment available at the time. Jack Woods was another person at RR that we all interacted with in those days. He was a likable and respectable guy that had integrity. Unfortunately, musicians were out in front of the music industry. The companies were lagging behind market demand for new equipment designs and other innovations. I think this frustrated Jack who wanted to respond to the growing music interest swelling in Merced at the time.

  6. I remember one of the salesmen – he must have been in his 50’s or 60’s back in the late 1960’s. I was in a folk duo with Mark McAllister, and he couldn’t remember our names – LaMay & McAllister) so he called us “McKinley & Smith”. So – we took that as our duo name. I bought an Aria acoustic guitar there in 1968. I still have the harmonica rack I bought there in 1967.

      1. RE: Mark McAllister – I saw him about two years ago – he was visiting a friend in Kentucky. I hadn’t seen him since 1975. We played some tunes and had supper at a Mexican restaurant. Lat I hear he was living on a boat in Martinez.

      1. Me to I liked Jack a lot my father taught there and I knew everybody. I’m sorry I missed out on all the communications here but better late then never I guess. I used to practically lived there after school in the listening booths I loved music and was obsessed so much so that Wally had to finally kick me out for abuse!

    1. Kelsey
      I knew your grandfather well as I worked with him for years at RR. I had a drum studio upstairs and worked the floor or sheet music section during the day. I also rented the upstairs of a house from Jack. I looked up to Jack who possessed an innate propensity for wisdom and humor. I’ll never forget the famous Jack Woods. All the local musicians knew Jack and would only deal with him. Because Jack always had Mondays off the local musicians tended not to come in the store unless it was NOT Monday. I bought my first drum set from Jack while in Jr High.
      Jack was just a guy that worked at RR when I first met him. He later became an important person to me that influenced my life just by being himself. You are a most fortunate person to have the distinguished and talented Jack Woods as your grandfather.
      If you have a picture of him around the mid 1970s may I have a copy?

  7. Hi Michael and Brian,

    Your words about my grandfather are a special treasure I will cherish forever. I never was able to meet him (he passed before I was born) and it is so wonderful to know about what kind of man he was. In fact, I didn’t even know he worked at Record Rendevous until I did a google search and found Merced county phone book records that listed his occupation. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos at all of him. I have very infrequent contact with Jack’s son, my dad Cameron Woods as he is homeless in Austin, Texas. 😦 I hadn’t been able to contact my dad Cameron and did not know his whereabouts for over 10 years. Brian, you must have lived in the apartment in the back of my grandparents house. I played in the backyard and remember the apartment there that they would rent out to people. I read about articles of your band Crazy Horse, A Tear and A Smile. So neat that you had such a following and had the experience of opening for artists such as Janis Joplin. Do you have any recordings of your music still available for listening?

    God bless,

    Kelsey (Woods) Miller

    1. Hello Kelsey,
      First, if you knew how to find your dad I could try to make contact since I live near Austin. He may know of photos of your grandfather, Jack.
      I do have photos of the place I rented from Jack and will send when I dig them out.
      Secondly, we do have lots of recordings that have been compiled recently and should be out before Christmas. Both live and studio versions. Some songs were never recorded until recently when the band reunited to make the recordings.
      I do appreciate your correspondence.

      1. Hi Brian,

        I would love to purchase some of your music! I definitely like any music from the 70’s and have been able to build up a decent record collection. Just keep me posted on when it is available. Thank you for the offer in trying to reach out to my dad Cameron Woods. He is pretty far gone mentally and is not able to be contacted as he is homeless. I have been able to connect with him almost 2 years ago through a Homeless ministry in Austin called Mobile Loaves and Fishes. He got my phone number but has not called since the one time we spoke 2 years ago September. God bless you and have a great day!

  8. Joe La May,
    I hope this finds you well and still playing. I have been trying to find Mark McAllister’s whereabouts for the last five years. A boat in Martinez sounds like his scene. You may remember me from such classics as “I Married Your Wife’s Sister-In-Law” and “Those Lucky Guys Got To Go To Woodstock.” I may have appeared on The Simpsons, but I can’t remember. It must have been in the sixties. You know what they say about that decade.
    I no longer am married to said sister-in-law. We had offspring (only one, Bevin, now nearing 40) who now lives in LA, and who got close to the matriarch of the Irwin family, Anise. She passed away last year. My condolences are pending your reply, “Mr. McKinley.” If you still have the faith, keep it. It is a connection to when America was “greater” than today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s