Doris Records Inc is not a kitsch record shop riding the vinyl revival wave. This store is a staple that’s survived since the early days of LP and on through 8tracks, CDs, and the Sam Goodys of the world. Slowly expanding over the years from a one room shop off the corner of Jefferson and E. Ferry, to eventually occupying the whole building, Doris’s has not only survived the change in music formats and distribution, but also the fall and ongoing rise of the city around it.
Established in 1962, Doris Records opened their doors to a much different Jefferson street than the one we see today. At the time, Jefferson was a booming, predominantly black owned commercial district. The building the store occupies, once contained 2 other businesses including a restaurant.The small record shop was opened by Mack Luchey and his wife, Doris, after working together at another record store down on Broadway. His son who goes by Big Pete, still runs the shop today. When I asked how long he had been working there, he told me 1972. It wasn’t until talking with him about the original shop that I realized ’72 was actually the year he had been born. He jokes about being born right in the back office, and after hearing about the deep family roots in the shop, I wouldn’t be surprised.The walls are covered in a mix of family photos taped up next to promotional flyers and posters.
While I was there, Pete joked with someone on the phone, people came in and out of the shop to ask for various items or concert tickets. They sell tickets for most of the shows and venues around the city. A woman had come in while I was looking at hats, and just took a seat to talk with Big Pete for awhile. They spoke, while I went through the CD buckets and stacks of old LPs. When I spoke with Pete he told me stories about the original shop and the neighborhood around it.
There is one in particular that sets Doris Records apart as a significant place in both Buffalo and music history. The butchery and apartment building that had once occupied the parking lot next door, was also once home to Mabel Johnson, mother of James Ambrose Johnson Jr., better known as Rick James. When Rick James was living with his mother, he lived there, in an apartment above the butchery. The record store next to that apartment at the time was Doris Records. As a young boy, James would walk over to the one room shop, where Mack Luchey, Big Pete’s dad, would let him sit and listen to records. “I’m going to be famous one day.” You’re going to be selling my records in here” he would say, and Pete’s dad, Mack, would agree. Eventually when he did, he came back to Doris Records and presented Mack Luchey with a plaque of a signed album cover and poster.
To reiterate, Doris Records is the record store Rick James spent his childhood in, and recognized as a major influence in his career. Don’t believe the story? Then head down to Dorris Records, and ask Big Pete for yourself, he’s most likely there.
286 E Ferry St
Buffalo, NY 14208