Mike Hobson and Chad Kassem Reminisce About the Founding and Rich History of Classic Records

Classic Records Founder Mike Hobson and Acoustic Sounds/Analogue Productions/QRP Founder Chad Kassem reminisce about the "old days", and the beginnings of Classic Records, which in 1993 when almost no one was making vinyl, decided to manufacture great records—and maybe even sell a few.

For those of you unfamiliar with this rich history, this is essential viewing. For those of you familiar with this history, you too will enjoy this hour plus video. Hobson lays it out: he guaranteed RCA $200,000 upfront to reissue 20 classic RCA titles.

Hobson and Kassem talk about all of the history including how Chesky Records first released parts of the RCA catalog but were unable to use the original artwork. They discuss buying and selling original RCA and Mercuries back when they went for "crazy money". The two pay tribute to the late Harry Pearson, who in The Absolute Sound along with Sid Marks, helped popularize the rich RCA and Mercury catalogs.

Kassem saved much of the original memorabilia and shows it in this fascinating video that's now history but for those of us who were there, it was just what happened. The first press conference at CES began with a mysterious question mark postcard. 200 people showed up for ?.

Here you'll find for sale the Classic Records archives.

And here you'll find Chad describing The Classic Records Archives.

Roy Martin's picture

...at a Stereophile show in NYC I bought the Starker Bach box at the Acoustic Sounds table. Chad was working the register and he told me the price, $60. Another gentleman, behind the counter said, "Excuse me Chad but we sell this collection for $90." Chad, in a slightly annoyed tone, turned to his employee and said, "I told the man $60 so $60 is our price." I offered to pay the higher price but Chad would have none of it.

There are true gentlemen in our hobby. Thank you again Chad.

rich d's picture

Like a lot of folks, I used to buy records from Ying Tan at Pacific Vinyl. He became one of the principals in Classic and, if memory serves, he was the one who alerted me to the forthcoming press conference. Again, relying on memory, I seem to recall that while they obtained permission to copy the original covers, they couldn't use an exact replica of the shaded dog. Please feel free to correct if I'm wrong. Chesky had recently issued some of the same titles but had to settle for pictures of potted plants and suchlike for their covers.

And Roy Martin is absolutely correct about Chad. He deserves more credit for his service to the industry and for being an honorable gentleman; a scarce commodity these days. I remember oh, about 25 years ago Chad asked me what I would reissue next if I were him. I gave him my answer and he replied that he loved that record but no-one would buy it. He reissued it anyway. I don't believe anyone bought it. A similar conversation with one of the principles at MoFi around the same time had much the same result. Note to record labels: do not use me as your A&R man.

vince's picture

About half of my collection is from QRP. I returned to the hobby right about the time QRP started up. I was member of the Prestige record club (number 00145). My wife and I would look forward to the latest re-issue and listen to it together, usually on the day it arrived.

I remember when CDs rolled into town and displaced LPs. By this time LPs were wretched things that you could nearly see through, limp as damp tissue and almost as noisy. They screamed cheap! CD had some easy pickings.

I think the reason LPs are doing well now is because of the high quality, noiseless vinyl, and excellent packaging. Records today are a pleasure to see, touch and hear. A significant portion of the credit for bringing the media back, at least for me, belongs to Chad. Thank you sir.

I look forward to the video.


vince's picture

I did not know Mike Hobson's role in the resurgence of vinyl. Thank you too, sir!

And thanks too for figuring out 45 speed LPs! I have a number of these and I appreciate the superior sound they bring.

volvic's picture

He is a gentleman, honest, man of his word, and customer service is stellar. I recently bought an SME arm from him and his vinyl releases are top notch. He deserves the praise coming to him.

TommyTunes's picture

Does this bring back memories, I remember when the Classic RCA’s were first talked about in TAS. I visited Hobson shop and got to hear them before they came out. I used to order from Chad starting in the mid eighties. Boy, that was a long time ago. Chad is a great guy and offers wonderful service. Beyond the vinyl, he deserves a special award for his tape issues. When you talk about a true labor of love that is the format.

LyndonSoulGroove's picture

Hi Guys was inspired by your talk, being Easter I found a copy of the film Soundtrack to " Jesus Of Nazareth " picked it up other year for a pound , brought it out again, sounds amazing !

Paul Boudreau's picture

..stuff! Nice to put a face to all the Classic Records I’ve bought over the years. I remember the “Death of Vinyl” decade (the 1990s), thanks to guys like them it never quite happened. Interesting about the dance club angle. So what exactly is that round coppery thing behind them?

avanti1960's picture

offer reissues of some more up to date jazz and jazz fusion titles- some of the 70's classics would be quite welcome !
Larry Coryell, Tributaries and others;
John Scofield, Rough House and others;
Chick Corea, Light as a Feather and others,

Please consider !

vince's picture

> So what exactly is that round coppery thing behind them?

I'd love to know the answer to that too. Some kind of acoustic enhancement? Part of a moonshine still? Inquiring minds want to know!