California, US

Village Music – Mill Valley California,US [closed in 2007]

John Goddard owner of the Village Music Record store was a man, who loved music and proved it with his presence over time. It is no coincidence that Elvis Costello has described Village Music as the world’s best record store.

John Goddard was born in Mill Valley. At the age of 13 he started working at Village Music and in the late 60s he took over the business.

village music john goddard
Photo: John Sebastian Russo, The Chronicle

Village Music was a good reason for someone to visit Mill Valley. Tens of thousands of old and rare vinyl records were available for sale. There were also many live events organized by John Goddard at the record store.

As people have said, Village Music was something like… Christmas. The whole space of the record store was covered in vinyl records, posters and memorabilia. Hundreds of picture discs were hanging from the ceiling.

There are testimonies of people who claim that they would go to the back of the store and they would miss the sense of time listening to the thousands of 7’’ singles of Village Music.

Sammy Hagar (ex Van Halen) had said that his music was heavily influenced by the music he played by buying vinyl records from Village Music.

John Goddard was not just a regular record store owner. He helped many American artists. He would invite them to play live either at Village Music or at Sweetwater (a live venue in Mill Valley), when he thought he had to help them. Soul singer Bettye Lavette is a great example. After her appearance at Mill Valley, she signed a record deal, while she also sang at the inauguration of President Obama with Jon Bon Jovi in 2009. The fact that Bettye Lavette herself said on camera that John Goddard saved her career says a lot.

Goddard was a supporter of both American music and the music community.

village music mill valley
Photograph by Joseph Greco. 

A documentary by Gillian and Monroe Grisman (the children of musician, David Grisman) on Village Music and John Goddard, “Village Music: Last of the Great Record Stores”, was first screened in Mill Valley film festival in October 2012. It is a documentary that describes what happened in Mill Valley, the history of Village Music, the music community and Goddard’s contribution. It features many great musicians and they all have something to say about Village Music and Goddard.

In September 2007, Village Music ceased to operate after a long and significant presence. Times change, people grow up and leave the music industry. Some, however, leave a big imprint in time and in people’s hearts. John Goddard was definitely one of them.


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