Kevin "Dyzzy" Diehm in front of his shop. Photo Credit: G. Scott Hughes
I’m pretty sure that we all yearn to know a Rob Gordon. I am happy tell you that there is one such man. And yes, there is one such place. The man? Kevin “Dyzzy” Diehm. The place? Dyzzy on Vinyl. Located at 3004 E. 7th Street in Long Beach, CA.
Dyzzy has been in business for at least twenty years. In an era of streaming and social media, to still sell actual forms of music (CD’s/Cassettes/LP’s/45’s and even a few 8 tracks) is quite a feat. I’ve been going there for years and personally, I ALWAYS find something to buy. My most recent find was a Smiths t-shirt. His prices are reasonable and the vibe that the store exudes is very cool. Dyzzy is always spinning something that will make you say: "Hey, Dyzzy! Just who is that you're playing?" Also, he is very knowledgeable about music and shares said knowledge openly.
I asked to interview him and he graciously obliged.
Here’s what happened….
GSH (Me.): In this day and age of streaming services, how does a place like this keep the lights on?
Dyzzy (Dyzzy): My rent is not that expensive. I sell 90% used records. I also sell cd’s, vhs and cassettes. I hustle. And I only have one employee-Me. Twenty years ago, I used to hustle more by going to swap meets and garage sales. These days, people bring stuff in and I buy it. I get asked if I have anything new. I say, “Yeah. From 1985.”
Me: Tell us about how the live music shows happened here. Do you need any permits, etc?
Dyzzy: No. I’m allowed to have in-store shows. I offer bands to do a record release party here. It’s mostly local bands from Long Beach, Orange County and L.A. I’ve been doing that for (thinks about it) for twelve, fifteen years. People can come in here and bring in a soda or a cocktail. If people want to bring in some diddley-doo weed, that’s fine too. Let ‘em play, y’know.
Me: What are your top five albums?
Dyzzy: Ai Yiyii! That’s always a tough one. I’ll have to start with The Allman Brothers- Live at The Fillmore East. An unbelievable sounding album. There’s a band from Alabama called Wet Willie. Which is a Southern rock, gospel sounding band. They came out with an album called Keep On Smilin’ in 1974. A lot of people don’t know much about them. Jimmy Hall (the lead singer. Present singer for Jeff Beck.) Keep On Smilin’ is one of my favorite albums. I’m from the 70’s. Bob Seger is one of my favorite artists. He’s got so much soul it’s amazing. Live Bullets (1977) is one of my top albums. I like live albums.
Dyzzy In Vinyl. Photo Credit: G. Scott Hughes
Me: I know you’ve got a lot of stuff here. What is your holy grail in the store at this moment?
Dyzzy: The Minutemen LP. It’s an original pressing. It’s not priced out of this world. ($50). Pet Sounds (Beach Boys) is always good to have on hand. I don’t have anything here that is worth, like, thousands of dollars. I get The Butcher Album (The Beatles) on a semi-frequent basis.
Me: Isn't that the one where they're all in lab coats and dangling bloody baby dolls and whatnot?
Dyzzy: Yes. Capitol Records, in order to save money, they pasted over the original cover because it was offensive. If you get the one that is pasted over, that’s worth anywhere from $200-1k. If you get the one that is not pasted over, that is worth quite a bit. They sold a sealed one for something ridiculous. Like, $70k.
One time, my friend Clint helped me peel the pasted cover since someone already tried to peel the cover off. Anyways, Clint said he would soak it in the bathtub and peel off the cover. So, he actually took a bath with it, then tried to peel the paper off and completely fucked it all up. So if you do get an original one of those, don’t fuck with it.
Me: And don’t give it to Clint.
Dyzzy (Guffaws.): Yeah. Don’t give it to Clint. (We both laugh at the faux pas.)
Me: I see a lot of posters here. Do you sell them or are they just for decor?
Dyzzy: I used to sell them. Everyone wants to buy that one (Points to the omnipresent Black Sabbath poster with an error on it. Basically, the names of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward are switched up.) But a lot of people don’t know that. They just like the look of it. Ozzy is like, nineteen years old in that shot. The 200 Motels poster came out of the actual album. The Jazz ones are really neat. I sold a cool, rare poster recently. It was a Greatful Dead poster from 1971. I was told that it was the last concert that Pig Pen played before he died. This guy came in and said “I’ll give you $500 for it right now.” I said, “Give me $300.” I gave him a deal. I don’t consider myself a Dead-Head but there is something special about their music. I love Jerry Garcia. He was such a doodler.
Me: I see some VHS tapes in here.
Dyzzy: I’ve got a couple. It’s hard to find the cool punk ones and the horror movies. That’s what a lot of people want.
Me: Basically, business consists of what you bring in and put out on a weekly basis.
Me (Musing): Some days it’s pearls. Some days it’s…pie tins.
Dyzzy (Chuckles): Yeah. It is what it is. Hopefully one day CD’s will come back. Look at that wall behind you. (That thing is loaded to the gills.)
Me: Remember when CD’s were getting prevalent? Around 1987-88. Places like The Warehouse and Music Plus were blowing out LP’s for a dollar. I basically got the entire Led Zeppelin collection for $10. With the way things are going, I can see within the next few years, CD’s could make a comeback. After the streaming stuff becomes part of the scenery. I think people will start gravitating back to CD’s. They're starting to acquire that cool retro vibe that people crave. Just like vinyl did circa 2008-09.
Dyzzy: If that’s the case, then when 8-tracks coming back? Never.
Me: Uhhmmm…. I really don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Dyzzy: They didn’t quite hit their goal with those with 8-tracks. The way to select a certain track was messed up.
Me: Yeah. I remember a friend back in the day had an 8-track player. It was such a pain in the ass to get the song you wanted to hear.
Dyzzy: Then you’re listening to songs and your drugs are peaking. Then you hear a click and something else plays. Your whole trip is ruined.
The phone rings. Dyzzy answers it, talks and agrees with whoever is on the other end. He hangs up the phone. He hangs up and looks at me.
Dyzzy: That was my friend. He’s coming in to buy a (effects) pedal.
Me: Ooh! What kind? I didn’t know you sold gear.
Dyzzy: It’s rare when gear comes in.. But it does come in.
Me: How did you get your nickname, Dizzy?
Dyzzy: When I was a kid in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; I hung out at baseball field. My last name is Diehm. There was a great baseball player in the 1940’s and His name was Dizzy Dean. I have had that nickname since I was 7 years old.
Me: You have a band, Plastic Horseshoes. How did that start?
Dyzzy: I was doing the math and it has been 12 years since Plastic Horseshoes was born. We were just fucking around at Jasons' place (Guitar. Plastic Horseshoes.) and playing loud as fuck with me on the drums. Then Joel, a real drummer, showed up. That’s when I started yelling, doing spoken word and telling stories while they were playing trippy music behind me!
Then one day, a band heard us fooling around at my store and asked us to warm up for them. The show was at The Bull Bar. We really wanted to do it but we (as a band) had never played in front of people. We’ve played close to one hundred shows since then. And that’s counting all the shows in my store.
Plastic Horseshoes in free flight. Photo Credit: Unknown
It (Plastic Horseshoes) has evolved. I wear crazy costumes, throw stuff and even wear a space suit. We have a blast! I never really knew how much people love it when they get stuff thrown at them!
Me: That’s very neat. I’ll go on record and say thanks for allowing me the time to interview. The floor is now yours….
Dyzzy: Buddy! After 23 years, I just want to keep on keeping on!! Having live music shows, selling records and keeping live music alive. I just enjoy the time as it passes.
Fast forward a few months....
I felt the urge to bang my head to new, relevant heavy metal. Dyzzy hosts local bands of all genres after the store after business hours. Think of these shows as an after hours club for music fans. I have seen many bands play there. I'll go on record and say it is a very intimate and fun setting to hear live music. And on this particular evening were two death metal bands. Pythagoras and Disciples of Death. My excitement came from the fact that I had never seen either of these bands.
Long Beach, California has a fine metal appreciation pedigree. When the nascent (then thusly dubbed…speed metal) scene got going, the same people could be found at shows from across the alley to Pacoima to San Diego. We welcomed any band that could get a mosh pit going. Sometimes, in an unwitting parents’ backyard. I personally saw Exodus with newly-minted Vocalist Steve “Zetro” Sousa hit the stage with an everlasting zest to whip a crowd into a frenzy at the gone but not forgotten, Fender's Ballroom. For just one fine example, listen to Iron Maiden’s Live After Death. Yep. Twas recorded at the (Now estranged from live music) Long Beach Arena.
Authors' Side Note: Damm! Now I should do a post about all the legendary shows I saw there. Another place, another time. Perhaps.
As I entered, I saw Dyzzy getting his face painted and I guffawed. Then the make-up artist looked at me and asked if I wanted to join in. Then, I really laughed out loud. Then, I thought about it and said Fuck it. Her name was Angel. She was more like a Goth Latina Angel. And yeah. I'm into that.
I sat down in front of the well-worn cash register. I looked her in the eyes. I told her to make it count. She nodded in the affirmative and went to work. Needless to say, Angel is a very talented make-up artist. She made me look like a legit Death Metal band member. All I can say is thanks, Angel. Maybe I should have gone for the red lipstick to give a bit of contrast?
Top shelf stuff. Photo Credit: G. Scott Hughes
The vibe was ramping up as Pythagoras warmed up. Once they started, it became very apparent that these guys had skills. They have a math metal edge as their songs bore into your head like a hydraulic drill press. The song titles are just as crushing. Example: Necrotizing Fasciitis. The vocals are just what is needed and nothing else. Think Chuck Billy meets Corpse Grinder meets Bruce Dickenson. Understand? The brutality and intensity of the breakdowns that Pythagoras plies with ease, are so sick they should be in an Intensive Care Unit.
Pythagoras. Melting faces. Photo Credit: G. Scott Hughes
If you like, no...wait, LOVE brutal 80’s style thrash metal with just a dash of death metal, then Disciples of Death is the axle of your wheelhouse.
Disciples of Death. Not allowing us to catch our collective breath. Photo Credit: G, Scott Hughes
They bring brutality, speed and a raw, youthful intensity to the thrash genre. I would like to see them whip up a pit in a crowd of 1k-2,500. Could they do it? Totally. Should they do it? Why not. I’ve seen a lot of par-level thrash metal bands. Fortunately for us, DoD are not one of those.
Both bands have the heart, passion and precision necessary to play death metal to the sky and back. They make me proud to be a metalhead form Long Beach, CA. I can't wait to see them both again. And since they share a drummer, I don't think that's too far a reach.
All told, it was a great night. Personally, the best part was scaring the bejeebers out of my Lyft driver as I got in her car to go home after the show.
In conclusion, go out to a show. Buy some merch. And definitely patronize your local independent record store. Please and thank you.
Much thanks to the man, the myth and the legend- Dyzzy for letting me interview him within the cooler than cool innards of his record store.
Now I’m done.