CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J.– Joan Demarest fondly recalls working at her father’s Cliffside Park music store during the summer of 1956 when she sold a record player to the King of Rock and Roll.
“Now, I tell everyone I have no proof, no autographs of pictures,” Demarest told Daily Voice. “But I was by myself behind the counter. I looked out and I see this big, black four-door car pull up. Out jumps this really handsome guy. I’m looking at him [thinking], ‘that looks like Elvis.’ He just ran in fast.”
Presley’s picture was even on the wall of the then-Taliaferro Music.
The King had his eyes on a record player in the window and bought it without trying it out, Demarest said.
“I couldn’t talk,” she added. “I wanted to say, ‘You’re Elvis!’”
Demarest conducted some research and found out that Presley was in the area during their encounter and that he would travel with a small record player – though not necessarily the one he bought in Cliffside Park.
Demarest took over the Anderson Avenue business in the 1960s with her husband, Bill. They later changed the name to Music Country, which at 82 years old, is the state’s oldest music store, Demarest said.
“I was practically born here,” she said. “I working here since I was 9 years old and hanging out before then
“We’ve been here through all the decades and changes in music. It’s just a way of life.”
In the early days, Anthony Taliaferro sold 78 RPM records and record players.
“There was one song on each side and if you dropped them they’d break,” Demarest said. “They were heavy.”
Soon 78s were replaced by 45 RPM records and LPs (long playing). Next came analog 8-track tapes.
“They were fun,” Demarest said. “You could put them in your car [and] keep playing them over and over.”
Records are coming back into fashion, and people are interested in cassette tapes once again, the store owner said. “They want to be nostalgic, I guess. I think they’re longing to hold something in their hands, collect it and listen to it.”