Crash Records: The history of one of Leeds' most loved music shops as it celebrates 35 years on the Headrow

As Crash Records celebrates its 35th year on the Headrow, shop owner Ian De-Whytell looks back at Crash's journey over the years.

For music lovers across Leeds, Crash Records has long been the hub to visit for the latest and greatest indie, rock and metal music.

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First opened on Woodhouse Lane in 1985, before relocating to the Headrow in 1987, the independent music retailer has seen the rise and fall of CDs, resurgence of vinyl and its fair share of groundbreaking gigs.

Pictured is Crash Records owner Ian De-Whytell back in 2014. Photo: Simon Hulme

And Ian De-Whytell, owner of Crash, has been there to witness nearly all of it.

As a fan of the shop for many years, Ian's dream came true in 1998 when an opportunity arose for him to purchase the much-loved store.

"It just so happened that the owner was expanding into things and he was spreading himself a little bit thin," explained Ian.

"At the time I was thinking of moving on [from my job], so it was perfect because it was my favorite shop and I really liked the staff. Oddly enough [Paul], one of the staff members that was there then, is still here now!"

People queue for the Kaiser chief gig tickets outside Crash Records in 2007. Pictured: 16-year-old Lucy Beggs, Harjinder Bacchus and Nadia Ward with their tickets. Photo: Matthew Page

As a testament to the grip Crash Records has over music lovers city wide, remaining clerk Paul Hodgson continues to work tirelessly after over two decades of helping customers find their new favourite band.

Alongside him is fellow salesman Scott Hodgson, whose repertoire includes some of the most sought-after album bundles around, plus the sell-out gigs that run alongside them.

"Over the last couple of years we've moved into doing a lot of cool promotions with record companies," explained Ian.

"We've done a whole lot of album launch gigs, which has meant that we've been able to set up unique opportunities for fans of bands and artists to see them in small, intimate venues.

Crash Records celebrates its 35th year on the Headrow. Photo: Matthew Page

"It's great for the artists as well because they really appreciate being able to give fans the opportunity to be eyeball-to-eyeball with them in a small venue. These are the kinds of things that Scott has been doing as a main driving force in the shop."

It's clear that Crash's longevity and success is not without heaps of effort, but it is also through an acceptance of change that Crash has been able to grow.

When vinyl was overtaken by CDs in the 1980s, and the reverse in the 2010s, Crash embraced the shift and restructured the shop to reflect customer's wants and needs.

"We've always adapted and moved, and we've always tried to spot the way that the market is going. Ten years ago 80 per cent of the space on the shop floor would have been CDs, it's now the other way around with 80 per cent vinyl.

"I think part of the reason that we've managed to survive is that we've always managed to understand the way the market is going, and we've just tried to anticipate it as best we can."

Now, over 20 years on from when Ian first took the reins, he is retiring from the music industry and leaving Crash in the capable hands of both Paul and Scott.

"The great thing about [Paul and Scott taking over] is the seamless transition, because none of the customers will notice anything different about the shop.

"They both work here, so rather than selling the business it's far better that it goes to the people that have been here. They're effectively inheriting the business!"

As for Ian?

"I'll be kicking back and relaxing!" He laughed.

"I've been working in the music business since 1978, 44 years. As much as I've enjoyed it, I'm looking forward to having a far more relaxed lifestyle.

"But you can bet that when there's anything exciting and interesting that the shop's doing, I'll be in the audience with the rest of the customers enjoying that!"