Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series
Part 13: Tim Henderson (Canada)
Inspiration can come from a number of unique sources. The concept behind this interview series was developed over time but recently crystallized in my mind. As the owner of a large library I’ve often pondered about the nature of collecting Heavy Metal music (Cassettes, vinyl, CD’s, memorabilia etc) and how and why people accumulate Metal ‘stuff’. In 2017 Martin Popoff wrote a book called METAL COLLECTORS which I read, thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed. It occurred to me that there are lots of people out there with pretty massive Metal collections so I decided I wanted to chat to some of them and interview them for the site.
My concept is to, over time ask people with some pretty impressive, monster collections the same series of questions. I’m basically stealing that idea of METAL COLLECTORS (Sorry Martin!) and expanding into an interview series. Lastly, the name for this series was spawned by a gentleman by the name of Ray Wawrzyniak. He appeared in the recent Rush documentary TIME STAND STILL. Ray is a Rush super-fan and in one particularly charming scene in the film, the genial and friendly (but clearly obsessed) Ray shows off one piece of his Rush collection and refers to it with barely hidden glee as ‘Spectacularly Majestic’. It was in fact ‘just’ an old piece of paper, (a Rush ad from a magazine from 1979) but that phrase alone and his enthusiasm I feel embodies the spirit of Metal collecting, because I suspect that many Metal collectors have those same moments. Check out the 1:30 minute mark of the video below.
If you, or know someone you know, has a monster Metal collection (in the 1000+ range) please feel free to get them in touch with me!
Tell us how you started collecting Metal! When did you start?
In the mid ‘70s when I was barely a teenager, I was collecting 45s, because my parents thought it was too expensive to buy LPs! So with my limited allowance, I started with some of the more fringe classic rock acts that I’d heard on AM and FM radio in Ontario, like Alice Cooper, Boston, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, April Wine, Styx, Max Webster. But my late Uncle Rick West was a huge influence on me, where I heard the term “acid rock”, and a new world of LP vinyl and cassette collecting took over my life as Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Cream, Aerosmith, Jeff Beck, James Gang, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent consumed my ears. That was the early spark. Radio was key back then, especially when specialized metal shows on Q107 and Chum FM would block off an hour a week and play the extreme. This is where Can-Con (Canadian Content) truly helped bands like Anvil, Razor, Exciter – our Big 3 before there was a Big 4! I was pretty much the only person in my high school that was listening to the first albums from Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Exodus, Testament, Celtic Frost etc… Every week I’d peruse the shelves at Sam The Record Man, Records On Wheels, The Record Peddler and snap up what looked cool on vinyl. There was much less selection compared to today and artwork was crucial. You’d literally buy records without even hearing them, which is unheard of now!
How big is your collection?
Including various paraphernalia, over 250,000 “pieces”. With my long history in retail, I was very fortunate to acquire items that were never made for public sale, but were used to help promote the sale of records.
Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
Vinyl = 10,000
Cassette = 3,000
CD = 150,000
Digital = 50,000
How do you count your collection? For example. If you have say for example, multiple copies of KISS-Destroyer on the following media; Vinyl, 8-Track, Cassette, CD, and digital format do you count that as five items or just 1 item?
I count these as multiple items. As per your example, I have about 10 different versions of Destroyer, mostly various versions on CD like original CD, remastered CD, Japanese pressing and mini sleeve versions. Yeah, I’m a freak. And I don’t consider myself the biggest Kiss fan, but I own about 200 Kiss-related items, a few of them signed.
When you collect certain bands, do you buy all of their stuff such as Live albums, EP’s, Compilations, box-sets etc?
I buy everything I can afford. I’m not biased! Even from different countries. As you know, we dealt with Canadian pressings, such as the mediocre Banzai vinyl from the ‘80s, so I was always after better quality abroad. So I’m a total completist, however it’s much harder today to keep up with the plethora of formats tied into new releases. And don’t get me started on Record Store Day, since many of those items rarely make it to Canada. And besides, I come from a world where EVERY DAY was Record Store Day. Literally every day.
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
Everything I own is in alphabetical order. But I’ve separated all my “rock/pop” material from the heavy metal music. I had some great shelving units made for me a number of years ago which are ideal. And IKEA has been a saviour when it comes to organizing on a budget! There are certain larger collections like Metallica, AC/DC Slayer, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, KISS, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest that I’ve separated and created focus areas for most of my items. Space is and will always be a problem.
Do you insure your collection?
Yes … I pay a very hefty premium from a specialized vendor that is part of Lloyds Of London.
How do you store your collection?
Currently everything is in storage, but it will see the light of day in a few months. And wherever it is has been housed, I’ve always made certain that the conditions (temperature, light exposure, humidity etc…) are ideal and I continuously monitor items to check their condition.
What is your preferred genre(s)? Do you have a genre break down of your collection? For example 15% Death Metal, 25% Black Metal etc
Well, that is a great question. Even in my iTunes, I just flag everything metal. So AC/DC, Aerosmith, Anthrax, At The Gates, Atheist and Autograph are all metal “A”! But I digress. My preferred genre is black and death metal, but that only takes up a small percentage of the whole.
Here’s a rough breakdown:
Heavy Metal – 55%
Rock/Pop – 25%
Death/Black Metal – 10%
Hair Metal – 10%
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
I strictly buy from retail. Never bought a thing from eBay for example. And I’ve have never sold an item to anybody in my over 40 years collecting.
What is your preferred format?
Well, the numbers clearly answer that. I flipped from vinyl to CD when the format was first introduced. It just made more sense to me in terms of space, transportation etc… And no, I’m not one of those audiophiles that will sit and argue endlessly about the sound of vinyl versus CD. Whatever. I’m quite content with my CDs. And it’s funny, you can easily see where I stopped collecting a bands vinyl and converted to CD. Some cases I kinda regret, because for example, I easily have over 100 Scorpions CDs, but only 20 pieces of vinyl. And I still remember as plain as yesterday buying my first two CDs. The audiophile in me had to have Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and of course my favourite album of all time, Slayer’s Reign In Blood. I was given my first promotional cassette when I was at college radio at McMaster University in Hamilton. It was Forbidden’s Forbidden Evil.
How do your track your collection? Do you use a spreadsheet or one of the on-line services or even a hand-written list?
As any collector knows, this is a mountainous task, but crucial for insurance purposes. I’ve tried to keep up with logging items into my computer, but I’ve resorted mostly to filming everything. But eventually it will all be properly cataloged and possibly assign accession numbers, where each item has a unique identification code.
What is your most valuable piece? (not in terms of sentimental value, but in actual terms of resale value on the open market. ie. Goldmine etc. )
I rarely pay attention to the value of things. I’m guessing fully signed CDs of Slayer’s Reign In Blood, Black Sabbath’s Born Again, Metallica’s Metallica. And I own guitars signed by Annihilator, Megadeth, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. As well, about 25% of the entire metal collection is signed by the actual artist and these include numerous icons who are no longer with us like Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy Kilmister, Malcolm Young, Jeff Hanneman, Dimebag Darrell, Warrel Dane, Nick Menza and many others.
What is your rarest item in your collection?
Probably BraveWords #1! And if I signed it, it could be worth more! LOL. Tied into that, is the entire BW&BK archives of magazines, KnuckleTrack CDs, test pressings and more. In all seriousness, it’s most likely the jean jackets that I used to bring to shows which are totally filled with autographs from AC/DC, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Death, Megadeth, Overkill, Exodus, Anvil, Testament, Pantera, Ted Nugent, Sepultura, Trouble, Forbidden, Death Angel, VioLence, Quiet Riot, Slaughter,
What is the most you have paid for an item?
All the Led Zeppelin box sets collectively well over $1000. But I’ve never paid more than a few hundred dollars for any individual item.
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
Yes, absolutely. Although it’s strange, one item that I rarely went after was guitar picks. I have hundreds, but some people in this biz have thousands! But everything from alcohol, pins, toy cars, playing cards, lanyards, hats, gloves, puzzles, coasters, beer koozies, incense, flags, towels, blankets, boxer shorts, CD long-boxes and lots more. One truly unique area is my massive filing cabinets which house band bios, news-clippings, photos, unique magazines etc… literally thousands!
Anyway, some numbers:
DVDs/BluRay = 3,000
T-shirts = 2-3,000
Posters = 500
Action figures = 100
Backstage passes = 1000
Ticket stubs = 1000
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
For the longest time I was looking for the original picture disc of Venom’s At War With Satan, but I recently acquired the reissue.
Why do you collect Metal music?
I’m a total addict no different than anybody with a substance abuse problem. But mine is safe, therapeutic and helps me and BraveWords grow. And at my age, I’m just filling in holes. Always looking into the past for something, some gem that I missed. But as time goes by, acquiring hard copies becomes much more difficult.
In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
Right now, everything goes to my wife who works for the Toronto Public Library in Special Collections. I’m not making this up! She deals with some of the most unique and valuable collectibles in literature, so it will be in great, passionate hands. And she’s as much of a diehard fan for metal as I am!
Final thoughts? Feel free to use this space to share any unique or interesting items about you and your collection and/or share ideas and advice fro your fellow collectors.
I’m saddened by the fact that I used to run one of the biggest metal sections in the world at HMV and now it’s difficult to find your fave one-stop shop! We had such a dedicated community at that store and a loyal customer base which resulted in over one million in gross metal sales out of that location alone! It was a match made in heaven and hell. My team and I would be buying product and I would be one of HMVs best customers! It was also where BW&BK magazine was launched, so the metal section fed off the mag and the mag fed off the metal section. So essentially, everything was in one location, and not scattered like the current reality.
Now there are dozens of options, including individual band stores that are offering up titles unavailable elsewhere. And bands aren’t doing any of us collectors any favours, as with each new release, there are a dozen different formats, colours etc… Impossible to keep up with that onslaught!
But the European festivals BraveWords attends contain exciting Metal Markets where vendors from around the world showcase their wares, old and new. So I normally bring an extra bag to fill up on these expeditions!
Funny advice story … the one time I loaned out a copy from my collection was Judas Priest’s Unleashed In The East – the Japanese import with bonus tracks – and the dude that borrowed it returned it water damaged and said, “sorry, I didn’t have an umbrella.” Gimme a fucking break. To this day, NOTHING leaves or is borrowed. So, lesson learned to my fellow collectors, never lend.
But my ultimate dream is to have my collection publicly showcased as some kind of music museum, bed n’ breakfast or bar atmosphere scenario.