One Up: 1979-2013

For many music fans in Aberdeen, losing One Up is like losing a close friend or member of the family. An integral part of music culture in the Granite City for over three decades, the much-loved record store which championed local musicians and culture closed its doors for the final time on the 31st of January 2013. Over the years numerous bands have formed, played and split up between its poster-strewn walls; friendships have been formed; and, above all, music has been given the appreciation it rightly deserves.

The original One Up store, founded by Raymond Bird, was to be located in a first floor property on Union Street, hence the name relating to its location above the busy shopping road. In the end the plans fell through, however the name stuck: the sign had, after all, already been made. The store opened in 1979 on Rosemount Viaduct and soon became a popular hub for music fans.

In 1982, Fred Craig opened a store on George Street, specialising in soul and mod culture. The store didn’t last long, though, as the Bon Accord and St Nicholas Centres were built soon after, leaving George Street short of shoppers.

Deciding to pool their talents, the duo paired up to open a new One Up store on Diamond Street. Fred attributes their popularity at the time to the introduction of the CD, which they were able to sell slightly cheaper than their competition, and the fact that they also sold tickets to all the major gigs and festivals in Britain.

One Up moved into its final home on Belmont Street in 1994, requiring bigger premises to house their ever-increasing stock and customer base. According to Fred, they never doubted the future of their venture: “Even though Tomorrow’s World back in the day said that everybody would have a computer in their homes, we didn’t believe them!”

Over the years, a number of bands – both high and low profile; national, international and local – have played in the store, and supported its mission to keep everything about one thing and one thing only: the music. Scots rockers Biffy Clyro, who earlier this week released their sixth studio album, have played there three times; Paulo Nutini, The Phantom Band and Aereogramme are just three others in the huge list of talent that has appeared in the shop.

But Fred’s favourite gig was Gibraltar-based metal group Breed 77: “I wasn’t sure how they would manage to play in store, because they’re a fairly epic band. But they all turned up with huge Spanish acoustic guitars, and did acoustic versions of their songs which was absolutely mindblowing.”

Fred and Raymond attribute the store’s closure to the increasing popularity of downloads, however still believe that online stores lack the same knowledge and welcoming nature of a record store. Fred said: “The whole thing with One Up is the music, and it comes first. It’s the same in most independent stores that I’ve ever been in. To put the music first is maybe a folly, but it certainly worked for us over the years.

“We should have shut two years ago if we ruled with our heads instead of our hearts: in the last three years there’s been such a decline; it’s been so rapid. It never took us by surprise – we knew it was happening – and we trimmed our sales to deal with it, but now we’ve no sales left to trim.”

On a personal note, I feel I owe a debt to One Up and its staff. Had the shop not existed during mine and my partner in crime Russell's musically-formative years, had we not had a place to meet and discover and discuss all kinds of new and exciting sounds, then this very website might never have existed.

So long One Up. You will be sorely missed. Thank you for all the memories.

Please leave your memories of One Up in the comments section below.
“Thank You One Up” photo by James Mackinnon.


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