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Vintage vinyl in Evanston still rocking and rollin’ after 43 years

EVANSTON, Ill — We all that one music friend, they’re a musical encyclopedia of the obscure, off-the-beaten-path random band that eventually turned out to be Nirvana. They’ll argue to the death about the importance of Elvis, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones.

We’ve seen these friends portrayed in movies throughout the years, one always sticks out as a proper representation of Chicago.

“High Fidelity” is an homage to the Chicago music and record store scene. Enter stage left: Vintage vinyl in Evanston.

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Vintage Vinyl specializes in collectible, rare, original vinyl recordings in all genres of music. They go a step further by curating a rare collection of psychedelic, progressive and mod. No dollar bin bargains here, Vintage Vinyl carries only the highest quality of records. Some are the rarest on the plant.

Celebrating its 43rd year this year, it’s one of the Chicago area’s longest-running record stores. Owner and founder, Steve Kay has carefully created his collection that now stands over 250,000 records between his shop in Evanston and online business.

“I started out in the art world as a painter, I started the record store to supplement my art career and the record store took off,” Kay said.

Kay has been a constant for the budding musicologist as he’s shared his knowledge and love of music with anyone that is willing to listen, and they have.

A rare Beatles record on a Chicago Recording label

“Years ago, John Cusak, Steve Pink, and Jeremy Piven would stop by the store all the time and we’d just talk music. They were so interested in that whole world and they soaked it all up,” Kay said.

Pink and Cusak went on to make the movie, “High Fidelity” and used their time and experience to set the story (the book was set in London) in Chicago. In that movie, they took many of the interactions between Kay and themselves, along with a cast of others to form the inspiration and feel of the movie through the lens of working in a record store.

“I was blown away when they acknowledged me in the way they did, it’s nice to know I made such a positive impact on their lives,” Kay said.

To learn more or to find that record you’ve been looking your whole life for, click here.

For more Chicago Scene fun, follow @tomwgnchicago on Instagram.

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