Posted: Sep 26, 2006 6:00 pm |
Edited by: fierydrunk
Please say you got those snaps, Jack Stands.
43-year-old record store sign to hawk new tenant
By Cindy Wolff
September 26, 2006
It survived the death of Elvis, the breakup of the Beatles. It outlived vinyl albums and eight-tracks and even adapted to compact discs.
But the towering black circular sign that helps define the Summer Avenue skyline couldn't live forever.
A store called Envie that sells wholesale purses and jewelry is opening in a few weeks at the former Pop Tunes Records site at 4591 Summer.
Workers have begun to roll white paint across the 40-foot tall, 4,000-pound black circle and remove the neon letters from the 43-year-old sign.
Pop Tunes closed a few years ago, but Jong Kim, who has owned the building since 1995, left the sign up because it has so many memories for Memphians.
He's asked different people if someone wants to move it to a museum or someplace where it will be valued. That would be expensive, he said.
He thought of leaving the sign and building a new one, but people get confused. They think there's still a record store there.
Pop Tunes opened on Summer in 1963 next door to The Peanut Shoppe. Four years later it moved down the street and took the big sign with it.
"Joe Cuoghi (Pop Tunes' original owner) told me it cost more to move the sign than it did to make it," said Jim Burge, who worked at Pop Tunes for 32 years before he bought The Peanut Shoppe.
Wrestler Jerry Lawler said it's sad to watch all the old Memphis icons disappear.
"Everyone knew where that big record was on Summer Avenue," said Lawler, who went to Treadwell High School and spent his teenage years cruising Summer. "It brings back so many good memories. We'd drive through Krystal and Shoney's then past Pop Tunes to Sandy's."
Memphis magazine editor Michael Finger said neon signs are more like works of art that should be preserved.
"The way the notes moved, it made it look like the record was spinning," said Finger. "It's a classic sign.
The city has lost many such signs, like the morbidly disturbing yet mesmerizing Jack Pirtle's Chicken sign that used to be on Poplar. Chickens used to flap their wings and jump off a diving board into a vat of hot grease and reappear in neon as a drumstick.
"The Pop Tunes sign was the coolest thing about Summer Avenue," said Anne-Marie Karash, a New Yorker who's in Memphis visiting her family.
"I just can't believe a restaurant on Beale Street wouldn't want that sign. It can't be too expensive. If they can move the (Zippin) Pippin, they can move the Pop Tunes sign."