Remembering Peter Schliewin of Record Revolution

L to R: John Kostik, Columbia Records; Peter Schliewen, Record Revolution; John Gorman, Denny Sanders, Murray Saul.  Though the "Mott" album by Mott the Hoople hadn't gone gold or platinum nationally, local sales were strong enough for the label to issue a special plaque to WMMS and Record Revolution for being the #1 selling album in Cleveland.

L to R: John Kostik, Columbia Records; Peter Schliewen, Record Revolution; John Gorman, Denny Sanders, Murray Saul. Though the "Mott" album by Mott the Hoople hadn't gone gold or platinum nationally, local sales were strong enough for the label to issue a special plaque to WMMS and Record Revolution for being the #1 selling album in Cleveland.

It was twenty-six years ago – June 16, 1983 – when we lost Peter Schliewen, the founding owner of Record Revolution on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights.

You seldom hear his name mentioned today – and that’s a shame.  He was a prominent part of the star maker machinery behind Cleveland rock and roll scene in the seventies and early eighties – and a close friend to everyone at WMMS.

Peter looked like a rock star and lived like one, too.  He drove a Porsche 911 SC, a Harley XLS 1000 and a top-of-the-line high performance Jeep. He was always the most rock and roll fashionable person in the room – even amongst veteran rock stars.

Peter’s Record Revolution, along with Lakewood’s Melody Lane and downtown’s Music Grotto, were the three “breakout” record stores in Greater Cleveland. When we added a new album or a new artist, mostly one on the cutting edge or somewhat left of center – the first indication of its popularity would come from sales in those stores.

Peter loved turning friends and customers on to new music.  He stocked imports.  If a new album arrived that hit Peter’s hot button, he’d call about it.  If he were really hot about a new import, he’d drive down to the station and drop it off.  Peter was no fool.  He’d get a free mention or two on-the-air – and, more than likely, sell a few copies of an album he had that no one else did.

Peter also kept us supplied with the latest issues of U.K. music magazines like Melody Maker and New Musical Express, which enabled us to stay current with emerging European music trends.  We discovered Detroit-to-London transplant Suzi Quatro from the British music magazines in the early ‘70s.    Though she didn’t duplicate the equivalent musical success in the U.S., she was a superstar in Cleveland.

I best remember Peter for turning me on to Queen. At the time I lived within walking distance of Record Rev, as we called it, and every Saturday morning, I’d stop by Peter’s office in the back of the store, and listen to his latest finds.  He was an animated guy as a rule – but he was exceptionally excited at the occasion to crank up “Keep Yourself Alive” on his Voice of the Theater speakers.   It was a good month and a half before the album was released in the U.S. By the time it was, Cleveland was recognized as the group’s breakout city since the band was already established from the import’s airplay on WMMS. We owe that breakout to Peter.

He did in-stores with many of the breaking artists like Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Elvis Costello.

Peter’s Record Rev was a destination for many rock stars passing through Cleveland – and most of his famous customers autographed his store’s walls.  Among them were members of Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Bad Company, the Who, Mott the Hoople, and Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny.

Rock critic Gene Sculatti’s 1982 book, The Catalog of Cool called Record Revolution,”the coolest place to buy records” in Ohio.

He also had the best, most knowledgeable staff – that could ID tunes from a lyric or a hum.  Two of his staffers formed the popular Pride of Cleveland reggae band I-Tal.

Though Peter expanded the store to include rock clothing, used albums, and paraphernalia, it was becoming increasingly difficult to compete with the larger discount chains.

Kid Leo and Peter Schliewen at the 1983 Taurus Party at Sachsenheim Hall in Cleveland

Kid Leo and Peter Schliewen at the 1983 Taurus Party at Sachsenheim Hall in Cleveland

As record retailing technology improved, the lag time between an artist’s initial exposure to established success went from months to weeks and the fickle labels lessened Record Rev’s importance as a “cutting edge” breakout store and spent fewer dollars to support him with advertising and promotions.   For Peter to stay competitive and profitable, he was forced to broaden his customer base by adding more drug paraphernalia items – and opened a store a new store in mainstream Parma. And that’s when his problems really started.

Though there was nothing illegal in what Peter was selling – the far-more-conservative-than-Cleveland Heights Parma city government fervidly attacked Peter’s store for selling paraphernalia.  In the early eighties, he was getting more press on that fight than he was for his true love – music.  His legal costs approached a quarter of a million dollars.

Despite these problems, Peter continued to be upbeat on the future of his business.   On Thursday, June 16, 1983, Peter was with friends at Nighttown on Cedar Rd. in Cleveland Heights. It was their annual Bloomsday party, in honor of Irish writer James Joyce. Looking for a break on this warm summer evening, Peter asked a young woman if she’d like to take a ride in his Porsche. She did – and off they went up Cedar Rd. to Fairmount and from Fairmount to Shaker Boulevard.

He was a safe driver – but as anyone whoever rode with Peter would tell you – he had a need for speed. In the 21200 block of Shaker Boulevard he lost control of the Porsche. It jumped the curb and slammed head on into a tree at a high rate of speed.  Peter and his passenger were thrown from the vehicle.  His passenger, though critically injured, survived the crash.  41-year old Peter didn’t.

He may be gone but those of us at WMMS who knew him will always remember his determination, drive, and genuine love of rock and roll.

Advertisements

19 Responses to “Remembering Peter Schliewin of Record Revolution”

  1. Heather Schliewen Gordon Says:

    Fabulous!

    Heather Schliewen Gordon
    (his daughter) DOB 7/22/70

  2. Great piece, GMan. I lived a mile away on Euclid Heights Blvd. and spent many hours in the store as well. I’ll never forget Peter’s intensity and passion. It broke my heart to visit the store during my Cleveland trip in ’07. The current owner had been forced to reduce CD space and talked about just selling the Top 200 plus a few hot indie bands. 22 months later, I’m sure that’s the case but I hope he’s doing well with vinyl.

  3. Patricia Schliewen Nero Says:

    Thank you for the tribute to my brother. He was such a unique person and a loving brother, father and son. We were all richer for having him in our lives, and it’s nice to know that others remember him too.

  4. Randy S. Says:

    Great summary of Peter’s career and a couple of sinsights into his uniquely compelling

  5. Randy S. Says:

    Great summary of Peter’s career and a couple of spot on insights into his uniquely compelling character I had the rare pleasure of knowing him and will always fondly remember him.

  6. mike allison Says:

    bought rec rev from janna summer of 85 we always give peter top billing when people ask about our beginnings. we still r funky and rock & Roll and still have a touch of what the 60s70s used to be..we will keep hangin on till we see the lite..stay strong rock & roll forever………

    • HEATHER SCHLIEWEN Says:

      MIKE…I’M PETER’S DAUGHTER. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS. DO YOU STILL OWN RECORD REV? I HAVE ALL OF HIS GOLD/PLATINUM RECORDS. I SAW JANNA IN MAY. WE’RE STILL VERY CLOSE. IF YOU HAVE ANY RECENT PICTURES OF THE “STORE” PLEASE EMAIL THEM TO ME. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE RECORD REV AND COVENTRY AS IT IS TODAY. IT HAS BEEN MANY YEARS SINCE I HAVE BEEN BACK THERE.

      • John Pacy Says:

        Hi, I’m not sure whether this goes to Heather Schliewin or to the writer of the article on Peter. If Heather, you may remember me but you were young. I’m an old summer friend of Peter and Jana from Bethany Beach, Del. I’ve long lost touch with Jana and would love to contact her. Any help would be appreciated.
        All the best,
        John

  7. mike allison Says:

    nice to hear from u we r on facebook ck it out. any problems call us id yourself ask for rob.if u have any old shots of the store etc we can put it on facebook..never meant your dad but he was a great promoter..take care have a great life.we will keep recrev going as long as posssible…ROCK & ROLL FOREVER…………..

  8. I was just at Record Rev and it is about to die. It’s almost exclusively a head shop now.

  9. Janet Hannigan wasSchmidt at the time... Says:

    Worked with Pter in the early 70’s. I was in the store then went to the office on Fairmount Blvd. Great memories

  10. I grew up in Cleveland Heights we moved there in 1970 when I was 5, and ended up going to school with some of the Belkin Productions offspring at Hawken. And of course as a music fan I was always in Record Rev in the late’s 70’s and into the 80’s and then later about 1991 or so a friend of mine Matt Mugridge was a co-founder of the Grog Shop.

    Sadly we no longer have either of these two men who brought so much to the Cleveland, Ohio and World music scene. Gone but never forgotten by this guy.

    Peace to All.

  11. David Taylor Says:

    I worked at Record Rev from 1971 to 1974 and worked with a number of great people. I would love to get the grounp of people that worked during what I call the “best” days of Record Revoluntion together for somekind of reunion. Heather is your mom, Diane still alive and what about your brother too? Is Skip Weiss still around? I actually have a list of former employees who worked at the store during my tenure.

    • GREGORY GORDON Says:

      hey this flash gordon i know where ellie and criag are.

      • I worked for Record Rev on Coventry from ’76 to ’83. Peter gave me my first meaningful, really fun job that changed the course of my life forever. He was the best employer one could ask for and a true friend. Janna, Craig, Chris & Stacy, Jay, George (& Barb), Fred, Warren, Phyllis, John, Holly, Mary, Flash, all the PR folks and company reps, I remember you all fondly, as well as some of our awesome customers and fellow biz folks like Tommy!. Those were such fun days on Coventry! I went off with Ital (as John mentions) and decades later ended up marrying the Jamaican drummer (Winston Grennan) who actually created the one drop (reggae) beat. Sadly lost him not long after we wed in 2000. Lived in Jamaica for a decade – back here 5 years now. Peter helped chart my life’s course, unbeknownst to him at the time, in amazing ways. Gman, thank you so much for this piece, albeit years late for me. It was just brought to my attention. Todd and Heather, I remember you as well from those years… I was the skinny blonde dancing behind the counter or swinging a mop! (Ps, you might wish to correct the spelling of Peter’s last name in the title for google’s sake)

  12. David Taylor Says:

    Heather I have photos of my time at Record Revolution, not many but a few of your dad and his working in and around the store. Would love to hear from anyone who worked during the early 70’s… Thanks

  13. Chris Dixon Says:

    I spent a lot of hours at Record Rev in the early 70s, even before I could drive often bicycling down from nearby Shaker Hgts. Even on the hottest brightest days you’d go in and it was dark, cool and smelling in incense and always the roar of those huge Voice of The Theatre speakers (yes I remember the first Queen album playing)! Thanks for filling in a little more of the history.

  14. […] to the oldest business in Coventry Village, Record Revolution (opened in 1967!). Here’s is a cool story about the impact this record store had on the music scene in Cleveland back when WMMS and the […]

  15. Lawrence Roth Says:

    I lived one block away from Peter’s record store on Coventry Road, in Cleveland Heights. I lived on Hampshire in a beautiful three story just around the corner. I met Peter thru dating one of his employees a lovely girl named Holly. Peter and I took to each other right away as both of us loved music and rode custom Harley-Davidson Sportsters. His was the faster of the two, and he always loved to prove it up and down Ceder Road, Lee Road and Mayfield Road. We often ate at Erv’s Deli right on the corner of Hampshire and Coventry. He stored this crazy jeep with a small block chevy in it in a old garage near Coventry. That thing was built to the hilt and really crazy fast. Peter was a down to earth guy, treated people fairly and well, had his head on straight and held the respect of most everyone that knew him. I am proud to have known him, rode with him and call him my friend. R.I.P. Peter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: