Born in Edinburgh, October 1953. His older sister is two years older than him, he lost his father and his mother now lives in a care home. His father wanted him to pursue a career similar to his own, therefore after leaving school he went to Edinburgh University to study Civil Engineering. He was only interested in the design aspect of the course and dropped out after a year. His primary interest was music and he wanted to pursue that. His uncle, who lived in Glasgow had a gramophone and him and his sister were sometimes allowed to wind it up and play records on it.
Alistair spent a year unemployed after leaving university, he remembers sleeping for most of the day, then going to record shops before going to the pub or gigs, that would end with people in his flat listening to music. He enjoyed various genres of music in the 60s, The Beatles, British Blues and led Zeppelin and going into the 70s he started to listen to the Doobie Brothers and Robert Palmer. He'd always collected records as his father had bought a record player form their neighbour when he was young. His local newsagent sold singles, so his collection first started to build up with those. he does not have a lot of LPs however he does have an extensive collection of seven inch singles. He thought was handy as he had a 'wee stint' at Tiffany's in Edinburgh DJing before and after bands. He mainly shopped in department, one record shop he remembers was Bruce Findlay's in Rose Street. One day him and a friends form school went to Bruce's because Moody Blues were there promoting themselves. However the store was so small that it had to be closed, however Bruce still let the young boys in.
People used records in those days, to find out more a person. Alistair said that a record collection could tell you what kind of person owned the collection. Therefore it was important to have a good collection. He bought and sold records at school, people would put lists up on the noticeboard of what kind of records they were looking for and what they were selling.
When he was at university, he had managed to get a Saturday job at Varsity Records. this was around the same time that Middle of the Road's 'Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep' came out and recalled having to wrap up 50 copies in one day. He had tried to persuade the owner to incorporate some underground rock type records, he would get a few records here and there, but mostly sold pop music. He also remembers Vivian Stanshall from Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah being in the shop, he was a big fan of him. Edinburgh was terrific for live music, his first show was Jethro Tull in 1969 at the Usher Hall. He is asked about the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, however he was too young to see them. His mother claimed that she saw The Beatles through a hotel window, when they stayed just down the street from their home.
He had a few small jobs the year after he left university. he worked for a magazine getting advertising. He was in Greyfriars market to see if anyone there would advertise, when he bumped into one of his school friend's sister who told him a record shop on Coburn Street was hiring a manger. He went there there the next day for an interview and he was offered a job then. He also got his flatmate Marion a job working for him. he started there in 1974, and left a year and a half later to open his own shop, however that fell through and he ended working in the market again, but with someone else. He bought a cheap flat that was supposed to be due to be demolished. he had a friend in one night who said they were planning to move to Dundee, he had found three cottages, and asked if he'd be interested in one. so he and his girlfriend decided to take it. he says it was quite reckless given that they had to give up their jobs and neither really knew Dundee at all. He got a loan from the bank and the moved up July 1976.
They found a record exchange on Victoria Road called Rock of Ages and one in Hilltown called Record Exchange. The music scene in Dundee was similar to Edinburgh, however Dundee seemed to be more clubby. Also, Edinburgh music was genres like, Country and Western and Scottish, whereas Dundee had more Soul. They opened the shop in August of 1976 and were married in the September. he remembers locals being helpful. he didn't sell singles, just LPs and different kinds of accessories. Those who all owned or worked in the street would gather after they had closed up in a pub to talk about what they had sold and to who that day. By 1977 music had changed, the Sex Pistols had released Anarchy in the UK and so Rock had become more popular. However he liked more blues based music. He believes this gave him a younger clientele.
Had different music tastes from his dad, but got his record collection when he passed away. Whilst having the shop on Perth road, he became ill with Crohn's disease. Managed to get a new shop closer to the Old Overgate, noticed an increase in sales.
Shop name Groucho was based off of a store in Edinburgh. Started to sell more clothes and shoes. Costs of rent went up in the Overgate, so many moved to either the Keiller Centre or the Wellgate.