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LOVE, 225: Record store holds nearly half a century of music and BR memories

1 year 4 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, February 16 2023 Feb 16, 2023 February 16, 2023 7:49 AM February 16, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

From 90's R&B singers Montell Jordan and Jon B to R&B group Shai and to comedian Mike Epps, tons of performers have made stops in Baton Rouge, specifically to visit a local landmark that has been open for more than 40 years.

The man who started it all has left quite a mark on the city.

Buddy's Rock Shop, the mom-and-pop record store on North Acadian Thruway, has a storied history that starts and revolves around Buddy Stewart.

“He had his band, and Buddy was making plenty money at one point because he only played, at that time it was segregation, white clubs,” said his nephew and driver, Ronald Smith.

“When integration set in, he stopped making the kind of money he used to make."

Stewart first earned his reputation as a musician, performing in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Natchez, and more in the 1950s and 1960s.

“He and I put placards or whatever advisement,” Smith said. “We'd go all over to different clubs and when his band was out there I used to drive for him."

In addition to being a working musician, Stewart was also a record producer.

“He actually produced two records. Those records were pretty good,” said Zelda Stewart, one of Stewart’s daughters.

“You'd hear somebody playing your daddy's records and say, 'that's my daddy's records,'” she excitedly remembered.

In addition to being a musician, band leader, and record producer, Stewart also made lots of calls as a concert promoter, bringing some of the biggest performers of the day to Baton Rouge, including Tina Turner, Al Green, and James Brown.

Stewart established quite a reputation before he opened Buddy's Rock Shop in 1980.

“The rest is history. He took over and did something with it,” said Smith.

Stewart's youngest daughter, Sonia Stewart, who now manages the shop, explained that her oldest sister gets the credit for keeping the doors open, bringing in celebrities in the process, and starting traditions like Rocktober Fest, which they have hosted at the shop for nearly 20 years.

“For 17 years, we had live bands out here from gospel to rap. We had poets out here. We started on the back of an 18-wheeler flatbed,” said Sonia.

“They called us a mom-and-pop record store,” said Zelda.

“While they were trying to build their names up, they said ‘we're gonna hit every mom-and-pop record store we could hit,'” Zelda said, explaining why budding rock stars visited Buddy's throughout the 1990s and earl 2000s.

Buddy Stewart died in 1997, and his family and friends remember him fondly as a father and mentor. His legacy continues to live on in the sweet music found in his record store.

The Buddy Stewart Memorial Rhythm Museum and Rock Shop is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

You can watch the full story about Buddy Stewart on Love225 on WBRZ+ Thursday, February 16 at 7 p.m. and on the WBRZ YouTube page.

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