How Inheriting 5,000 Vinyl Records Changed My Life
by Rich LeBranti
Are you trying to imagine what 5,000 vinyl records looks like? Picture a small, local record store, with walls and shelves covered and filled with cases upon cases of records, and you might be imagining something close to that number! The story of how I inherited 5,000 records begins on one of the saddest days of my life, but ultimately inspired me with purpose as well as a mission to share music and a love of music with others.
On what I consider to be one of the worst days of my life, I received a call from the brother of one of my best friends saying that Jason had taken his life the night before. I was driving with my wife and daughters and had to pull to the side of the road. I wish I could say I didn’t know how this felt, but I also lost a best friend in high school to a similar tragedy, and all those familiar feelings of loss, confusion, sadness, and anger rushed in.
Jason’s brother began to speak of a letter he found that Jason had written a year before. While not an official will, it was a letter that said, “Here are my wishes if something happens to me.” Jason was single, had no children and was survived only by his mother and brother. His brother began to read the letter and to my surprise, deliver the message that Jason wanted to entrust me with his entire music collection consisting of 5000+ vinyl records that he collected over his lifetime, almost 1000 CDs, plus turntables, speakers, and a variety of equipment. To say I was shocked and stunned would be grossly understated. Along with the inheritance came instruction – I was to share the music with those who would appreciate the sounds and allow them the same love of music that he and I had shared.
Upon hearing this news, I did not feel worthy to receive such a valuable inheritance and believed that it should be kept in the family. I pleaded with Jason’s brother to keep it in the family, but his brother insisted and prevailed. He knew that Jason and I had a radio show together in college and shared a love of music so similar it was uncanny. I was blessed to be able to give the eulogy at Jason’s service and speak about our friendship, our love of music and how important it is to continue to positively impact people’s lives both when you are here and once you are gone.
It has been my mission for the past eight years to carry out Jason’s wishes. The original collection has shrunk to just over 2000 records (which still take up a wall or two in my house) and I continue to find folks who love music and want to share in a love that connected two friends. It has also encouraged me to become a DJ of sorts and in my spare time, or when asked, I have been blessed with the chance to play music in public for people (even a few family weddings!) When I do, I always think of Jason and how he would be smiling and dancing to the tunes we loved listening to.
Losing Jason reminded me that life is precious, and you should always show those who are most important in your life an infinite amount of love and care. It also changed my life in a way that is bittersweet. I feel blessed to be able to bring joy to others by sharing something that we care so much about: a love and passion of the arts of music and dance. If anyone reading has an interest in record collecting or just a few records to have in a collection, you now know who to contact.
Top Ten Favorite Albums/Singles in the Collection:
Alicia Meyers - I want to thank you
Rufus & Chaka Khan – Live in Me
Steely Dan - Peg
Whitney Houston – You give good love
Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb - Guilty
Joubert Singers - Stand on the Word
The Beatles – Here, There and Everywhere
Sade – The Sweetest Taboo
Gwen Guthrie – Padlock
Mary J Blige - Beautiful (house mix)
About the Author
I am a life-long MA native and live in Andover with my wife Nadine and our two daughters. When I am not in the office, I keep busy taking the girls to dance class and going on family bike rides. Nadine and I enjoy a night out on the town following our favorite DJs and bands, cutting a rug to the soul, disco, and R&B that we love.