Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obituary: Earl Root

I just learned that Twin Cities record store proprietor, radio host, and heavy metal god Earl Root died in May.

The first encounter I had with him was when I was 17 or 18. I was on a date with an older girl who, upon learning that I was a fan of Earl Root's late night heavy metal radio show on KFAI, "The Root of All Evil," drove us to the station and put in a request for me: Rigor Mortis's Re-Animator (an excellent death metal tune that included a clip from the 1985 film of the same name: "you killed him!" "No I did not; I gave him life!"). It was playing by the time my date got back to the car, along with an amusing message from Earl.

On my first visit to Root's record store, Root Cellar Records, I bought two or three Blondie albums on vinyl. One was a picture disc for Parallel Lines. I don't know if I ever actually played that one. Root Cellar back then (about 1994, maybe) was in the basement of a stereo shop on Snelling near Selby in St. Paul. I think my friend Ryan took me there. Earl was always there with his pony tail and mutton chop sideburns, chatting with customers. He knew everything, not just about heavy metal, but about jazz, classical, rock -- everything he carried in the store.

Later the store moved down Snelling to the other side of the street past University toward Como Park. The new location was a store front that was next to a gun store for a while, if my memory serves right. A gun store that made the news because it was so near a playground and/or a school. It was definitely a better spot for Root Cellar Records.

I bought a ton of vinyl there. While Cheapo would always have, for instance, almost everything Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, and Roxy Music ever did (together and solo) for a mere $3.60 for records in "fine" condition, Root Cellar would have everything Cheapo had and all the rest, in immaculate condition, freshly cleaned on Root's vacuum system with his special record washing solution, in well-cared for sleeves covered with plastic. And his prices ($10 for Country Life?) were always good.

Root was the kind of shop owner who knew most of his customers. He was always smiling and always cheerful. Funny thing, coming from a guy who hosted a loud, rowdy radio show called "The Root of All Evil."

"The Root of All Evil" was on from 1-6 a.m. Sundays for almost 20 years. Root Cellar Records was open for about 15 years. And Root was in a number of metal bands, including one called Disturbed (not the famous one, the first one) and another called Aesma Daeva (which he described as "symphonic opera metal"). Root died of cancer on May 23. He was 46.


Blogger Screaming Annie said...

I can only imagine the sadness that Tiberious Rand feels at this passing.
RIP Root of all evil.

12:20 PM  

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