DELTA — For Bill Roberts, four decades of doing music-related business on Scott Road comes to an end this month.
The Delta store he manages for the Long & McQuade chain is moving to South Surrey at the end of November, to a place near the corner of King George Boulevard and 24th Avenue.
Roberts owned and operated R&R Music Centre at a few different addresses on Scott Road, or 120th Street, since 1979, before selling the operation to Long & McQuade in 2011. That year, he stayed on as manager.
“It’s been a long run here in North Delta, and also serving the Newton area,” Roberts said. “I’m sad about losing that community connection here.”
The chain’s business model is built on owned property, Roberts explained, so the leased space on Scott Road is no longer suitable.
“We did want to try to stay in this area but we just couldn’t find the right fit for what’s needed,” he said. “So the search was expanded and something more suitable was found in South Surrey, with a freestanding building and our own parking lot, and we’re not sharing the building with other businesses or tenants.”
Over the years, Roberts has seen plenty of musicians come and go from the store.
“Thousands of students have come through here, including some famous people,” he said. “We had two members of Theory of a Deadman, Tyler (Connolly) and Dave (Brenner) taking lessons here, Chris Crippin from Hedley, too. Chris Gestrin, a heavyweight jazz guy, took some drum lessons here when he was much younger, and Jaclyn Guillou was a vocal student, and she’s a real rising star.”
Guillou’s cousin is Lisa Brokop, the Surrey-raised country artist who now lives in Nashville.
“Lisa bought her first electric guitar from R&R in the early 1980s,” Roberts recalled. “She was already a bit of a rising star then, playing in malls and doing country fairs, opening for people. She’s been in over the years since then, too, and her mom was in the store a couple of weeks ago.”
R&R Music Centre began life in 1975 as a studio for music lessons in the basement of a house in the Royal Heights area of Surrey. Four years later, a retail operation was opened at the Kennedy Heights mall.
The business was started by Roberts and Cecilia Rich, hence the R&R name.
Rich, a Vegas-level cabaret singer in her day, had children with a former Canadian serviceman named Edward Fryer, who fathered guitar legend Eric Clapton many years before he met Rich.
“It’s a really interesting story about all that,” Roberts said. “Cecilia had a son (Ted) and daughter (Sandra) with Edward, so they’re both half-siblings of Clapton’s. Ted was a musician but I didn’t know he was Clapton’s half-brother, and he didn’t know either, because the story didn’t hit until the late 1990s, I think.”
Another guitar icon, Joe Satriani, gave thanks to Roberts in the liner notes of his “Super Colossal” album, released in 2006.
“We were a big Peavey amp dealer, and I worked with them on the artist-relations side of things, so when someone was in Vancouver and needed help with gear, I was the guy,” Roberts said. “I saw Satriani every time he came into town, for years, but he never came to the store.”
The music store’s current space, north of 82nd Avenue, was opened by Roberts in 1992, when he bought out Rich.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve moved, and we found a really good home here,” Roberts said. “Locally, it’s been a bit of a hub for music. The people who walk five minutes to the store for a lesson or whatever gear they need, they’re a little upset with the move, but they’ll be OK.
“There now might be a vacuum where someone might want to try to come into the market here (on Scott Road), we’ll see.”