This page has been archived as it's no longer updated.

For the latest news, visit our main site.
Feed News
Encore for R&Bs as owner looks back on 30 years of musical memories

Encore for R&Bs as owner looks back on 30 years of musical memories

It was 30 years ago that two friends, armed with a passion for music and just a few thousand pounds to their name, quit their jobs to open a tiny shop above a fishing tackle store.

From these small beginnings R&B Music became an Aberdeen institution; a friendly haven for instrument advice, a place for budding musicians to congregate or simply shoot the breeze with the owners over a coffee.

Since opening in 1984, the fledgling business went from strength to strength until it was turning over an annual profit of £1million.

But with three decades of musical memories behind him, handing over the keys of R&B’s store on The Green to new proprietor Kenny Graham was a bittersweet moment for owner Bill Sinclair.

Looking back to the mid-80s, he explained: "We were both fed up with what we were doing and with no wives or girlfriends, no mortgages we thought we’d start a music shop.

"We saved up and managed to save £8000 and we were accepted onto what was then called the enterprise allowance scheme. We each got £40 a week as a wage and we started in a little upstairs shop in Belmont Street in 1984."

  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV
  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV

R&B Music's first store on Belmont Street

Situated above Brown’s Fishing Tackle Shop, the tiny space allowed Bill and business partner Ross Donald to indulge in their love of music, a coffee machine constantly on the go with Plectrum the cockatoo sitting in the corner as customers came in for advice with a smile.

Bill had a little ritual of chatting over coffee with each customer who came in - he remembers, almost with fondness, his hands beginning to shake with overconsumption of caffeine as the shop grew in popularity.

The tiny shop’s impact as a respected music store reverberated across the city, joining the likes of One Up and Bruce Millers. Soon R&Bs was expanding, opening a larger premises in Rosemount in the early 90s followed by a short-lived stint in Inverness.

Bill admits: "Inverness wasn’t as vibrant and buoyant, so that lasted a couple of years and we just closed it down.

"But Rosemount was really where things took off. It was a great location and we were there for about seven or eight years then we moved down to The Green."

  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV
  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV

Opening what was to be R&B’s final store in 1995 was Jim Marshall, the inventor of the iconic Marshall amplifier and friendly customer who often made the trip to Aberdeen to visit the shop, fond of signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans, always with a smile.

There was no shortage of celebrities who perused the stands or searched for spare springs in the shop, as Bill reels off big names that came through the door whilst on tour in Aberdeen.

  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV

Bill (left) and Ross (right) with Jim Marshall (centre) opening R&B Music on The Green in 1995

  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV

Bill (right) and Ross (second from left) with Level 42 drummer Phil Gould (far left)

"We had the Stereophonics in, Jools Holland, Pete Docherty from Babyshambles.

"It was always a bit of a surprise when someone like Billy Connolly walked in out of the blue. He bought a guitar for his granddaughter.

"We’d try and treat him just normally but our customers would be looking round like ‘that’s Billy Connolly!’

"It was good fun."

R&B’s popularity was matched by the takings in the till, with Bill adding: "Around about 20 years later the annual turnover was a million or in excess of a million."

  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV

But just as the independent store began to thrive, the rise of internet shopping threatened to take with it all Bill and Ross had worked for. Bruce Millers, an institution for over a century, closed its doors in 2011 and has remained a shell on Union Street ever since.

Not far behind was Belmont Street’s One Up. The realisation that buying competitively alongside internet giants was becoming an increasingly difficult task for Bill and Ross, with the latter leaving the business a couple of years ago.

"I just noticed that it was harder and harder to make a profit," Bill said. "Nowadays it’s getting very difficult for independents and I think you need three or four or five branches to allow you to buy competitively."

  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV

Determined not to let R&B’s become another shell, a mutual friend helped set up a meeting with Kenny Graham, whose independent music chain Kenny’s Music has been a hit since opening its first Dundee store in 2008.

An understanding of online retail and commitment to keeping its website ticking over with stock has helped Kenny’s business beat the odds.

Keen on expanding, it seemed the perfect solution to keep an independent music shop in Aberdeen without running R&B’s into the ground.

Bill said: "[Kenny is] well thought of in the industry and thankfully he’d heard similar things about me and the two of us hit it off."

The decision was made and on October 1 Kenny's Music took over the shop at the bottom of Back Wynd Stairs, with more stock, big name brands of acoustic and electric guitars lining the walls and a commitment to keeping its online store as up to date as any other.

  (Bill Sinclair)
via STV via STV

The R&B Music team on The Green

But little hints of the shop's heritage remain and all staff have been retained, some of whom have worked for the business for around 17 years.

And the ethos of employing keen musicians to offer the best customer service is as staunchly important to Kenny as it was for Bill and Ross.

"From my point of view, it’s nice to know the business I built up is still there and that the guys that have been loyal to me for fifteen or seventeen years are still actually working there and looking after things. All in all, it’s a nice outcome," Bill said.

"I had some fantastic years with my business partner Ross so it will be a big end of an era. I like to look back on the good things and I have no regrets.

"Thirty very, very happy years – better than having a normal job anyway."

Previous Next Close

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.

Let's get you set up on the STV Player.

This field is required. The code must be 5 characters long. Sorry, we don't recognise that code. Please try again.