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80,000 records and counting: meet the owner of Australia’s largest vinyl collection

A few months ago an article on ABC broke the news that Ken Perkins, owner of the largest known record collection in Australia, had sadly passed away.

The 80,000-strong archive had taken Perkins half a century to build up – which levels out to more than four records per day. It was a collection like very few in the world, and Perkins’ family knew they had to find the right person to pass it along to.

Gunjo Discopantz aka DJ Gonz, who has worked in and out of record stores forever and DJs every Saturday night at the Bank Hotel in Newtown, is the one who now owns that collection. After we tracked him down, we had to have a chat.

gonzo's soul club australia's largest vinyl collection

Photo: Lucy Murray / ABC News

Meet Gunjo Discopantz aka DJ Gonz, a disc jockey, record collector, and as of last month, the owner of Australia’s largest vinyl collection.

“I knew Kenny personally. I worked in Revolt Records and my boss John was very close with Kenny, so I wanted to put a bid on the collection. It didn’t matter whether there was the holy grail blues 78s, I knew that this guy had a good collection because over the years I’d seen what he had bought.”

“I knew that the collection would be something that would interest me. So I simply put a cheeky bid on it, without really thinking. Later I had to jump through a few hoops… because I really didn’t expect to win, hey.”

Over the phone, Gonz shares his struggles in actually transporting the collection. After a few truckloads’ worth of records had come in (Perkins’ collection was housed in Brisbane), his home and storage had quickly been filled to the brim.

But it’s hard for him to find a moment to be blue. He’s excited beyond normal human limits. And anyhow, he’s about to have a brand new spot to store all that wax.

“It’s been a life changer. It happened at the right time, the other record store shut down and I’m opening up my own one now. On Enmore Road, it’s going to be called Papa Disquo.”

Gonz’ record store will open nice and soon in early December, so he hopes – transporting 80,000 records can be a time consuming ordeal, after all.

 

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You’d be a madman to think Gonz had already leafed through the entirety of Perkins’ archives, but you can bet your bottom dollar he’s started. We couldn’t resist asking what he’d found so far.

“There’s complete discographies of London [Records], of Wing [Records], of WMG… so I’m going to have to just… there’s a lot of shit there, hey. It’s not like it’s all gold, but I look at it and it’s a lot of good stuff.”

“I’ve found some obscure reggae, that’s my bag. This guy had like four copies of a Freddie King record that’s worth a couple of hundred bucks. And it’s obvious he’s found it, then found a better copy, then found a better copy. There’s one with tape around the edges, then there’s one with a few scratches, then there’s a nice clean copy, and then there’s a fucking sealed copy! This is like a $200-300 record from the early ‘60s, and there’s four copies of the fucking thing.”

It’s enough to make any collector’s eyes water with jealousy. Rest assured that very soon, these 80,000 pieces of history will be drip-fed through the shelves of Pappa Disquo and the PA of the Bank Hotel as Gonz uncovers its treasures.

Though he readily admits, he will have to rein in his hobbyist tendencies.

“We’re collectors, we get high on our own supply, you know what I mean? So that’s a legitimate fear, I’m worried that I’m just going to keep most of the collection and not make any of the money back.”

“That’s a legitimate fucking fear, so I’ve got to calm down and only take a few little special ones. Not just everything I like, because I like a lot of things.”

 

Papa Disquo is coming soon Enmore Rd in Sydney. Until then, see this collection in action every Saturday night at the Bank Hotel from 10pm at Gonzo’s Soul Club.

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November 20, 2018

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