HMV’s flagship Oxford Street Store is an institution, a flag-bearer of music stores worldwide. With HMV as a whole being saved, its centrepiece is no more. Doors closed yesterday. Despite this, it leaves a legacy. The store has nurtured and helped generations of musicians and music fans alike.
HMV’s recent history has been chaotic. Numerous administrations have surrendered its consumer prosperity. Despite this, its recent purchase by Canada’s Sunrise Records has secured the brands long term survival. It will remain on the high street for many more years, though not without obvious store losses. From Manchester to Glasgow, Hereford to Thurrock, closures have led to job losses. No store loss is more sorrowful than that at 363 Oxford Street.
“HMV Oxford Street was an institution.”
In July 1921, almost ninety-eight years ago, the store was opened by Sir Edward Elgar at 363 Oxford Street. The brand went from strength to strength, its opening coincided with the creation of it now iconic logo. Designed by Francis Barruad, the dog, now known as ‘Nipper,’ has been the face of the brand ever since its inception.
Before and during war time, it was the centre-point of the country’s music scene at a time when live music venues were still a local extravaganza. The premises, previously destroyed by fire, was rebuilt and repurposed with a bomb shelter in its basement.
At its height, HMV Oxford Street was the centre of communities, a trusty second home for those who wished to learn and discover. It was the adaptability and knowledge of their staff which made to store so impressionable upon customers. Famous customers included Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, Blur even performed live atop their now famous rooftop.
2013 saw it muse into its final form, three floors of music and film and a live venue to match. Opened by Paul McCartney, it saw over 2,000 people flock to the store to celebrate. Since then, a whole host of artists have headed to the live 363 venue including the likes of The Libertines, Kasabian and The 1975.
HMV Oxford Street was an institution. As one of the country’s largest music stores, it often offered a microcosm into the state of British music. From the latest record releases (cue Pete Doherty patiently awaiting an Oasis LP) to live performances and signings, it had it all. Its popularity reflected the power of British artists, it’s lack of profitability not just signalling its closure but the demands of an industry now out-powered by its online counterparts.
Take a walk along Oxford Street and you will be met with a famous store facade still lit in purple and white though this will soon be lost too. An empty cultural crater now dominates the Oxford Street shop-line.
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Image via Martin Hearn, Flickr, Used under Creative Commons
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