For decades, hundreds of vinyls and tapes sat untouched following the 1979 suicide of Audiotek Systems, Inc. owner Dan Holmes. Now, 260 reel to reel tapes from the Minneapolis record label and studio are on eBay for $19,900.
ASI originally operated at 711 W. Broadway Ave. until Holmes moved the business to a studio attached to his Maplewood lake house. Following his death, the house, studio and all of its contents were purchased. After the current resident contacted Wrongdave’s Records owner David Jenkins last May, he bought the entire inventory, he said in an interview with Andrea Swensson.
Over the summer, Jenkins sold some of the items on Ebay and at his two Wrongdave’s Records shops in St. Paul and in central Wisconsin.
“By the time the weather started to turn cold, I began looking hard at the mass of vinyl 45s and 8-tracks occupying fully half of my double garage. I called John Kass [of Go Johnny Go] and he came by and took all of them away. That left the next obvious portion of the lot,” he said.
After organizing and defining all the tapes, Jenkins put them on eBay on March 2. Since then, he said, about 500 people have viewed it and he’s received a couple offers.
The massive catalog includes bands like White Wing, Judd, Cain and Haze — whose debut 1974 album rocked the rhythm and blues charts.
“We just kind of happened upon ASI,” former Haze member Paul Johnson said. “We were looking for a studio to record a demo. And the reason was to get work. We wanted to work in the Twin Cities but we were an all black band, and it was very hard to do at that time.”
Soon after the group recorded their demo, Holmes offered them a record deal and ASI put out Haze’s first album.
The single “I Do Love My Lady” was “coming down the charts [towards No. 1] like a bullet,” ultimately landing at number 20 on Billboard’s rhythm and blues chart, Johnson said.
But the rapidly growing buzz took the small, local company by surprise, hindering the band’s success.
“Dan was really trying to get that PR going and stuff, but he wasn’t able to keep up with it because the record was selling and there was a lot of demand for more copies … and it just kind of fell to the wayside right before it peaked,” Johnson said.
While the heyday lasted, the band appeared at record signings and interviews. Johnson recalls playing a show Holmes set up for the group in Iowa, at a club where people lined up down the block to get in.
“I remember when we drove in to the city, and we were listening to the radio and our song came on. And the DJ was excited about it and he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I just got word that Haze is in the city.’ And we just laughed, you know,” Johnson said.
In 2010, Secret Stash Records reissued the album as “Haze: When We Were Kids.” And two tapes comprise the original album sitting in Jenkins’ collection, along with the work of dozens of other ’70s groups.
“If I had to guess the outcome, I think it’s possible that I’ll sell some of the ‘better’ tapes and the rest may have to be put to sleep,” Jenkins said. “The first offer I got was a person who wanted to buy just the metal reels the tapes are on, which leaves a lot of magnetic tape to dispose of.”
Jackie Renzetti is a student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is a projects editor at the Minnesota Daily and co-hosts Radio K’s “Off the Record.”