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October 11, 2012

Roxbury Eight Track Museum opens Saturday


Lenihan said he hopes visitors — both those too young to remember the eight-track format that faded out in the early 1980s and those who grew up with the tapes looped inside bulky plastic cartridges — will leave the museum with a greater understanding and appreciation of the evolution of technology for musical recording.

“One of the goals of the museum is to impress upon our visitors — especially the young people — how the eight track figured in that process,” said Lenihan, a 59-year-old Massachusetts native who spent the earlier part of his adult life as a rock promoter.

Eight track tapes, he noted, took off in popularity in the 1970s after William Lear, an aviation industry titan for whom the Lear Jet is named, sponsored research aimed at developing a way for making musical recordings more portable than the vinyl record albums that had to be played on turntables.

Some of the highest-quality machines can now fetch thousands of dollars on the internet auction site eBay, and certain rare tapes can also be worth hundreds of dollars to collectors.

“The interest in eight tracks has been aided greatly by their collectible value,” Lenihan said.

He said the festivities Saturday will include a live broadcast on community radio station WIOX, hosted by Jezz Harkin, from 5 to 7 p.m. Lenihan said he hopes to feature some music by Levon Helm, a founding member of The Band who passed away earlier this year and had lived in the Woodstock area.

Noting the building he purchased two years ago has some 7,000 square feet of space, Lenihan said he eventually wants to open a cafe and rent space to retailers as well. While paper products have suffered as digital communications becomes more popular, Lenihan said he hopes to sell stationery products, note cards, books and magazines.

There are many people, he said, who still prefer to read writing on paper more than they do viewing computer screens of electronic gadgets.

“Some day this building could be a monument to obsolete technology,” he said. “But I believe people still have a romance with the tactile printed materials.”

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