Among the many, many interesting Philadelphia interactions I’ve had in my life, this is one of the more interesting ones – with an unusual Philly music history spin.

Always on the search for broken down cheap Ibanez guitars, there was this pawnshop I would frequent in south Philadelphia – in a somewhat shady area. The owner was a man in his 50s who was undeniably mentally handicapped. He would tell me stories of how people rip him off, and how his family stole millions of dollars from him.

He wasn’t all up there. He tried to sell me a knockoff Chinese Gibson Les Paul that was clearly a fake to anyone who knew anything about guitars, saying that he’d give me a good deal. I asked him if he knew that the guitar was a fake, and he said he was just trying to see if I knew. Right. Mental shortcomings and all, the guy was interesting to me –  as was the prospect of someday coming across a good guitar in his pawnshop.

Amongst the regular junk in his shop, one day he had a pile of sealed mace sprays haphazardly dumped into a display case. I asked him what they were and he told me they were for women who didn’t feel save in the neighborhood, and he gave me two for “my girl and my mom”.

Another time I was in his shop I asked him about this tattered old small piece of luggage that was covered in tour and concert passes from the 1970s. It was obviously from a band member who had toured with O’Jays, Commodores, and some other acts. It was covered in a layer of thick dust. When I asked him about it, he asked if I wanted it for free. I said sure, and left the shop with it. Today that piece of luggage sits in our basement music room.



I went to take a look at it a bit more carefully today to see if I could figure out who owned it. After looking at the passes/badges on the luggage itself, and the small amount of contents still left inside, I was able to narrow down the original owner to one of four guys. I was able to figure the band the member was in.



There weren’t many clues inside, but they all made sense once I figured out the band. The band was a 70s Philly R&B/Soul group called Blue Magic [Here’s their Wiki page]. Within that page is the mention of their 42-week world tour, which had a ten-day stint in the Philippines (how serendipitous, considering my bloodline). Within the luggage was contents from that particular 42-week tour, including handbills, luggage claim from the flight home, a pay stub, and a girl’s phone number written on the back of a color film packaging.



Crazy people can be crazy. Sometimes they try to get pity from you; or try to sell you a piece of junk. Apparently, other times they give you mace for your family’s safety; and unknowingly (or uncaringly) give you a piece of music history.

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