ROTHESAY, N.B. – He has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Stan Rogers, Roger Whittaker and his favourite folk Maritime legend, Wilf Carter. He can’t play an instrument or even sing much of a tune, but his contributions to the Maritime music scene are legendary, along with his collection of priceless vinyl.
Eighty one-year-old Gerry Taylor is somewhat of a legend across the Maritime folk music scene.
Taylor got a record player for his birthday 60 years ago, bought his first few albums and a local legend was born.
“There is a fine line between collection and obsession,” he says.
Tucked away in his home in Rothesay, N.B., Taylor has accumulated quite possibly the province’s largest collection of vinyl records.
“It’s somewhere over 40,000 records.”
Just stepping into his basement is overwhelming. Vinyl is stacked from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Taylor says there is something romantic about records that today’s music just doesn’t grasp.
“A lot of people describe the sound as being warmer and I think that is true.”
His passion for music started back in the early 1950’s after he became a writer and music critic for the Telegraph Journal.
“My musical hero from childhood was a fella by the name of Wilf Carter who came from Nova Scotia.”
An artist he says is authentic, just like Taylor, according to his wife of 51 years, Carol Taylor. She says her husband would often throw a sleeping bag in his car and travel across the country just to buy one album.
“I complained once when the basement was filling up and my mom said you knew what you were getting into,” she said.
She says she’d never dream of making him part with it because she knows that it would be like losing a part of himself.
“It’s like building a life, I guess each one of them adds something to what I know about things,” says Taylor.
Countless stories of musical legends are outlined on the musty sleeves of cardboard. Some of the world’s most sought after vinyl are stacked away in his home, still unopened.
Fire, he says, is his worst fear.
He says the first thing he’d grab on the way out the door is his Wilf Carter collection.
To that, Carol says:
“What about me, I am still grabbable you know.”