Having launched his independent Reckless Records shop in Soho over 30 years ago, Charles Taylor is a man who knows his corner of London as well as he does his industry. We asked him about his favourite nooks and crannies of the city and about the influence music and the capital have on his life.
Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you know music was going to play such an important part in your life and how did you come to own Reckless Records?
I played in a psychedelic band called The Brainiac 5 for most of my 20s. I've always been mad about collecting records, so when the band broke up I opened the first Reckless Records in Islington. The stock was my record collection. We then opened a store in Soho, which is the current location. A few years later I moved to the USA and opened a Reckless Records in Chicago. We now have three stores there. I moved back to London in 2009. It's my favourite city in the world!
Considering the number of record stores that have had to close down, how come Reckless Records has continued to thrive during the digital age? What gives the store its character?
We focus principally on rare and collectable vinyl. Many stores closed when downloads killed the CD market, but people who like vinyl definitely don't like mp3s!
Are there any musicians our readers may have heard of who regularly visit your store?
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (separately), Seasick Steve, Mark Ronson...
What has been your involvement with Record Store Day and what do you think is its significance?
In Berwick St, where Reckless is located, we have a music festival on Record Store Day. The street is closed off and a stage is built. The lineup this year was John Cooper Clarke, Young Knives, Lazy Talk, DJ Yoda, Ryley Walker, 2 Bears, Gang Of Four. We sell a lot of records on that day!
What’s your favourite part of London to stroll through on a Sunday afternoon and why?
Sunday is a good time to walk through Soho as it is slightly less mad than usual, so it's easier to take in the sights.
Tell us about the best gig you’ve ever been to in London. Who did you see, where was it and what made it?
Probably the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park in 1969. Brian Jones had just died and this was their first concert with Mick Taylor. King Crimson played too - they were superb.
What is your favourite place to enjoy a delicious, authentic and atmospheric meal in London?
My favourite local restaurant is the Café Mediterranean, also on Berwick Street: home cooking at its best, very friendly servers and amazingly inexpensive.
Lastly, what is the one place music-loving travellers cannot miss out on when coming to London?
Well, I would have to say Reckless Records, wouldn't I? Also, for jazz lovers I would strongly recommend the Vortex in Dalston.
To delve a little deeper into the unique shops, bars and restaurants around Soho and the rest of London, have a read through our Local Guides section and uncover some more gems for yourself.