Saturday, 30 March 2013

Bye Bye Nipper

To my generation, Nipper is an old treasured friend. Nipper is the dog you see on that immortal brand logo of His Master's Voice, better known as HMV. Most of us , in the good old days, owned a HMV Radio and certainly bought a few HMV records - or at least one or two, for the money would stretch only so much those days. In India, until Television really came to the country along with the Asian Games of 1982, HMV radio was the prime entertainment medium of the land. HMV has now gone into receivership and , I'm afraid Nipper will now be consigned to a dusty shelf in some museum.

Nipper, was Mark Barraud's dog and lived in the late 1800s in Bristol in England. On his death, a sorrowful Barnard painted the famous picture of Nipper listening to a gramophone with a puzzled expression and sold it to the Gramophone company. A marketing genius there called William Owen made it the logo of the business and thus was the immortal His Master's Voice born.

The Gramophone Company started sometime in 1902 manufacturing and selling LP records. In 1921 they started their first musical store, in London's iconic Oxford Street. In the 1930s they started making radios and the later televisions as the music and entertainment industry took off. They opened a number of music stores all across the UK. While their music stores were chiefly in the UK, their radios found their way all across the world, or at least in the British Commonwealth. The picture of a family huddled next to the HMV Radio  and amidst the crackle and the hiss, coming those famous words This is London and then the Lillibulero, was the classic picture in many parts of the world a  while ago.

Many of us, from a certain generation , who have had the opportunity to travel to the UK, will fondly remember browsing through the HMV store on Oxford Street. Maybe not to buy, but wandering around the store was one of the pleasures of life.  The last time I went there was 4 months ago, ducking into the store on a cold and rainy evening.

As music, increasingly became digital, and online, HMV was bound to fail. Its time in sun was over. Who buys records anymore ? And even if we did, who buys from a music store - we order it on line. Or more likely, we listen to our choices online for free and never buy anything. HMV struggled for many years and at last early this year went into receivership. His Master's Voice had been stilled. I fancy Nipper stirred in his grave.

Well, all we can do is shed a tear for Nipper. And ruminate that not too distant in the future, a blogger might write a post wistfully remembering the days of Napster or that the great musicians of the age had their own site on MySpace !

As I conclude this post, I marvel at the crappy post on nostalgia I wrote not so long ago. I must have been punch drunk when I wrote that !!

Farewell good friend Nipper.  Yelp Yelp !


  1. Sandhya Sriram30/3/13


    there are many other beautiful nostalgic posts that you have written, each a memory to cherish by itself (leave aside their subject).

    My Grandfather had a beautiful gramaphone and had many records. and he had a cupboard full of books on astrology. those were his most cherished possessions all life. Just before he passed away, he gave them both to me as i was the favourite of his 30+ grandchildren. the cupboard stayed with me for many years, but then, since i wasnt using them, i donated them to an aspiring astrologer with a very heavy heart, but it is better is useful rather that it being decorative. i still have the gramaphone and all the records. but the needle is broken and no one sells gramaphone needles now. not sure, how long i would hold this physical memory....

    The human mind is quite paradoxical. it wants to keep moving on and then, keep feeling guilty about the choice to move on. but then, your way of remembering many of these in the virtual world is possibly a nicer alternative.

  2. @Sandhya- look for a Philips electronics service station. My dad has a table top too and touchwood its still alive and kicking! (after this post I've realized, we would be in a mourning if something happened to it). Anyways, our needle was broken too, so the Philips guys not only fixed it for us, they gave an extra needle as well.

    @Ramesh- count me in, in your nostalgia and pensive mood. The logo is one of the first things I must have started recognizing in my toddler days. All the more reason to cling on to our treasure trove of LPs now.

  3. oh, this post sends me down memory lane too. My grandpa had a portable set which he brought from Germany. It was like a square small briefcase brown in color. I used to go with my dad on his bullet to buy the LP records for my grandpa's gramophone. The store was next to Koshy's @ B'lore.( i doubt if it still exists) The logo which you have put here adorned the name plate of the store. I have heard the dog(did'nt know his name then) used to listen to his master's voice through the gramophone and hence the company got the name. I remembering even breaking a LP record. it was like a plate. Any scratches on the plate and it used to give a apaswaram sound.

  4. Wow. I hadn't realised that there was such a gramophone history in the family of the kiddos who have commented :):)

    @Sandhya - There's your solution from Deepa !. Lovely expression - the mind wants to move on and then feels guilty about it. Very nice.

    @Deepa- Oh those LPs will soon have nothing but antique value. But I am awaiting the dada of LPs, Ravi, who is a regular commentator on this blog to add his view. He owns a whole house full of LPs !

    By the way I thought you are still a toddler :):)

    @Asha - Down memory lane - the old LP shop, the scratches on LPs producing apaswarams, the square brown briefcase ...... Waaaah.

  5. Hey, a couple of years ago I bought myself a LP player--perhaps as a therapy while going through the divorce!!! It is more than a LP player though--a table top device that is also a CD player, a tape player, and a radio. Works really well, and has an awesome old style appearance. I didn't have the money to buy the version that could make MP3 files out of the vinyl music. I am on a tight budget, not because I am a cheapo ... hehe! Every once in a while I swing by the local Goodwill to scan for LPs--they typically cost 99 cents, sometimes even lower than that ... somehow playing the LP while drinking freshly brewed coffee becomes an infinitely rich experience ...
    Seriously, if you are interested, it appears that there are a lot more models now:

    Oh, btw, two years ago, I even blogged about a rather funny experience when I bought LPs at Goodwill:

  6. @sriram -Et tu ?? Is the whole world populated by LP enthusiasts ? And Ravi has not even commented as yet - he the LP nut.

  7. Ramesh
    In similar vein, I would say VCR/Tape Recorders and its casettes are collectibles today. Gosh I still remember the top and front loading machines. I think the earlier STUFF were more HARDWARE driven and today everything is SOFTWARE driven... For me I like the earlier era... it was fun once in a while to open the box and try to repair it... (In the end I screwed my tape recorder much to the agony of my parents)... But I enjoyed it :)

  8. Yes, Ramesh, there are many who simply love such old stuff ... And, following up on Sanjay's remark, it is a pleasure to listen to the old "mixtapes" from the 1980s and 1990s--the tapes where my friends or I or the woman I was married to had spent time to record songs and then share as gifts.
    Recently, I emailed the photo of the case of one such mixtape from a friend ... with all the song titles and artist names in her handwriting. Launched her on a nostalgic path ...

    BTW, here is a photo, from two years ago, of my turntable setup soon after I bought that Doris Day LP :)

    The nostalgia does not mean in any way that I think that everything olden is golden. No sir, I am happy not to go back in time :)

  9. you simply can't beat the sound quality of Vinyls! I have (Had?) about 200 of them (From Tchaikovsky to Pink Floyd and anything else in between. I have pretty much the same collection on Cassette tape and on CD and on on Digital format. Yet it is the vinyls/LPs that stand out in terms of quality. Had an old LP record player at home and later upgraded to a Technics player.

  10. @Sanjay - True. Tapes and VCR have the same allure, although I dare say LPs will live longer than either of them.

    @sriram - Didn't do much of recordings and exchange of tapes; so can't relate to that, although quite a few people I know did. Like the way you have photos of everything !

    @Kiwi - I can imagine you in leathers, driving a Ducati, listening to LPs, ........
    Ha Ha

  11. Ha Ha! Got the leathers, got the LPs no luck yet with the Ducati. Have to settle for a cheap Korean replacement (Hyosung GV650 Cruiser, subject to the better half approving the mid life crisis redemption purchase)

  12. Ramesh the LP was invented in 1945...

  13. @Ravi - Stop quibbling. LP, shellac record, same same :):)

  14. @Kiwi - I'll put in a word :)
    @N - Please say no to the Korean rubbish and buy the young lad a Ducati instead :):)


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