Collection Obsession: Derry man's records could set a record
By Emily Young , Staff Writer
Who: Mark Tucarella, 78, of Derry, N.H.
What: More than 25,000 recorded songs from the big-band era
* 1,200 10-inch, 78 RPM (revolutions per minute) records
* 50 12-inch, 78 RPM records
* 2,550 song sides on LP (long playing records)
* 470 sides on 45 RPM records
* 13,775 songs on cassette
* 10,000 songs on CD
* 20 different record labels, including 1920s recordings by Cameo Record Corp. and Columbia Graphophone Co.
Why: From the day his father came home with a phonograph in 1939, Tucarella, a Lawrence native, loved listening to big-band music. A friend initially gave him a record and Tucarella "played it so often that you could almost hear the other side." He didn't have the money to buy a lot of albums as a kid, so he and his friends would head down to the local music store on Essex Street to listen to the permitted five records in a sound booth. "Big band brings me back to the old days. I listen to them every day. They've been with me for so long that they're a part of me, and I'm a part of them," Tucarella said.
How: Tucarella earned pennies selling empty bottles and rags to buy 37-cent records when he was around 12. Roughly four years later, Lawrence native Jerry Cerullo decided to sell off his big-band collection at $1 a record. Tucarella was able to thumb through the collection and pick out the artists that he wanted, which greatly bolstered his own collection.
Collection highlights: Tucarella still has that first 78 record his friend gave him at 11 years old: Bob Crosby's recording of "Speak Easy," put out by Decca Records. He has four picture LPs, which feature the portraits of Harry James, Ralph Flanagan, Tommy Dorsey and Louis Armstrong emblazoned on the vinyl records themselves. He also has an early track soundbite of Sammy Davis Jr. singing at just 7 years old, as well as Frank Sinatra when he won a singing competition as a member of the Hoboken Four on the "Major Bowes Amateur Hour" in 1935.
Favorite recording artist: "Oh, Harry James. I have every single recording on 78s. It's his trumpet – he could play it sweet, he could play it hot, he could play it anyway you liked," Tucarella said.