I first went to Colony in the late 80′s, the Daily News commissioned me to photograph jazz musician Lionel Hampton at what was his ‘ favorite place’ in NYC. It was an amazing store full of sheet music from all genres of music, records, memorabilia. I have been back many time over the years to search for obscure music like psychedelic band ‘The Seeds’ and more recently Django Reinhardt sheet music -which is when I found out that this historic music landmark is closing.
Colony has been in the Brill building, corner of Broadway and 49th Street, since 1971, Owner Michael Grossbardt, son of the original owner Harold S,”Nappy” Grossbardt who opened the store in 1948, tells me they still have the same phone number . It is the place where musicians go to research music and songs and has one of the nations’ largest collections of sheet music – the staff know their stuff, full of stories and good advice.
Neil Diamond (who I recently shot at Jones Beach) comes in all the time, Michael Jackson had been coming to the store since he was a kid, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Darlene Love, Woody Allen, Tony Bennett, all frequented the place. Sinatra, recording upstairs in the Brill, would send down for his sheet music, Elton John who ‘knew his music’ would come by and spend thousands in cash on records, he bought two of everything one for his UK home and one for his US home. The Blues Brothers started here when John Belushi and Dan Akroyd came in and said they wanted to start a blues band and asked for for song advice … so it goes on, history in the making.
The dusty basement is full of records box sets, 12″ singles ( my Salt n Pepa cover), rare 7″ singles for jukeboxes, classical, jazz, Beatles, Sinatra, show tunes, hip hop. Michael plans to have an online store and sell them there. Meanwhile the store will only be open for another few weeks.