On this date in 1976, my very first album “Greg Kihn” was released on the legendary Beserkley Records. I was still working my day job at Rather Ripped Records at the corner of Hearst and Euclid right across the street from North Gate of Cal Berkeley. In fact, I shot the cover picture outside the store during a break in my shift. I personally shrink-wrapped the first 5000 copies on their shrink-wrap machine!
Rather Ripped was an incredible scene. I worked there with Gary Phillips back in 1975-76. That place was so cool. Patti Smith did poetry readings there, Iggy Pop jammed, the Police signed autographs, every band that mattered would stop in and hang out. If you examine the album cover you can see the Rather Ripper sign above the wall of posted handbills. And look at the stuff on that wall- Patty Hearst posters, Take Me Naked movie poster, Earth Quake album cover, a copy of chartbusters- it’s like a time machine.
My first album cost chump change to make since it was recorded after-hours (for cheap) at the old CBS Studios on Folsom Street in SF. In fact, it cost less to make than most other bands spent on their album covers alone! You can take a look at my album cover and realize we didn’t exactly spend a fortune on it. In fact the entire album had a hand made look which wasn’t fake. It really was hand-made!
The first copies were distributed out of the back of a VW bus to tiny independant record stores. This was before we had professional distribution. A few weeks later Playboy Records signed a distribution deal with Beserkley and we were off and running nationally. They would be the first of a long line of distributors to work with Beserkley. Nobody gave us a snowball’s chance in hell, but we beat the odds! Of course it took a while, but we eventually cracked through.