Todmorden man's groovy new use for records

Phil Fowler removes the centre from vinyl records to make items such as clocks

Phil Fowler removes the centre from vinyl records to make items such as clocks

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Feature Writer

ALICE Cooper has one, so too do The Smiths’ Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce. One has even found its way into Duane Eddy’s home in America.

Clocks made from original vinyl records are the coveted items and they’re made by a Todmorden man who’s taken quite a bit of stick for his art.

But then when you chop up rare records like The Beatles’ first album on Parlophone – worth £800 – and sell it for £60, it’s bound to upset vinyl lovers.

Phil Fowler, 52, founder of Popsters (popsters.co.uk) explains the method behind his madness.

“I am a music lover so I understand why I get a certain amount of abuse for what I do. But I had to make a decision about the type of business I was in. Was I selling records or clocks and coasters and I decided the latter. However, I would never chop up my old punk collection even though it’s damaged.”

Phil, a training consultant, got the idea for Popsters in 1999 from a damaged vinyl of Jonathan Richman’s Roadrunner on the Beserkley Records label.

“It was such a great label design it was a shame to throw it away and I commented to my wife that it would be great to take out the middle and use it as a coaster. She just humoured me. But the idea stuck and I started to think of ways to create gifts from old records.”

But using record centres as coasters wasn’t practical, so Phil put on his thinking cap and devised a way of reproducing the coasters in plastic to protect from spillage. The clocks, however, are the originals. Even the record sleeves have been recycled as attractive presentation boxes.

Phil buys records mainly from dealers who put damaged stock aside for him or from flea markets and charity shops. He has a warehouse in Todmorden full of old vinyls and has no fear of running out of materials.

“Singles like The Beatles’ Help and Hard Day’s Night were made in their millions, so it’s an easily sustainable business.”

Phil’s products have attracted the attention of many a celebrity client, particularly when he sells at the Manchester markets. He was even invited to lunch by Edwin Starr who was doing a corporate gig in the area when one of his people spotted and bought Phil’s Northern Soul coaster set. “It was a bit intimidating, if I’m being honest,” says Phil.

One of the McFly lads also bought a set of coasters for his mum.

“People representing Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil bought from me in Manchester the other week. It’s amazing how many musicians and celebrities are out there.”

A set of six themed Popsters coasters costs £15 and clocks are between £10 and £75.

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