By Luis Castilla
The historic Sounds of Music is one of the few record stores left that has been around since the height of vinyl records.
Sounds of Music is located in the heart of East Los Angeles. The city’s culture and the store’s history are on full display within the store’s walls. Posters of low-riders and beauty icon Marilyn Monroe are sold in the store.
Autographed photos of famous celebrities line the record store’s ceiling and counter, including photographs of rapper Eazy-E, Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, Cheech and Chong and many others.
Opening his first record store in 1964, owner Carlos Reyes has been bringing music to Southern California for more than 50 years.
Reyes and his partner, Robert Prado opened C&R Records in May 1964. They sold 45 RPM records out of a shoebox, having to buying new merchandise in downtown every other day.
They started out with a budget of $1000, half of which was used to buy more records. “We used to hang records all over the walls just to make it look like we had a lot,” says Reyes.
Reyes later changed the store’s name to Sounds of Music after buying out Prado.
Over the years, Reyes opened several record stores throughout the Los Angeles area including East Side Records in 1970, Hollywood Discount Records in 1971, L.A. One Stop in 1977 and a second Sounds of Music location in Paramount.
East Side Records, however, was destroyed by a fire in 1992. A framed newspaper article about the incident is hung in the store.
Reyes acquired his East Los Angeles location in 1972 from Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg, a radio DJ who recorded out of the store. Records were huge in the ‘60s and ‘70s when Reyes first began operating. “It was the place to be. If you wanted music, you had to go to a record store,” says Reyes.
At the opening for this location, Bobby Pickett, singer of “Monster Mash,” made an appearance.
Reyes operated at this location for 45 years, but had to move Sounds of Music across the street due to having trouble with his landlord.
Customers panicked when they noticed that Sounds of Music was empty and abandoned, not noticing that the store had moved to the opposite side of Whittier Blvd. “I’ve seen people looking through the window (of the old store) and I have to yell at them, ‘We’re over here!’” says manager Mario Reyes.
Sounds of Music is known for its oldies records and 45s, but it also sells 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, turntables, posters, graphic shirts, hats and doubles as a smoke shop.
Carlos Reyes says that his customers used to be local high school students back in the day. Now, they have grown up but are still loyal to his record store. “The music business has been very good to me,” says Reyes.
Sounds of Music is located at 4945 W Whittier Blvd. It is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.