Joe Bussard, Obsessive Collector of Scarce Information, Dies at 86

Joe Bussard, who made it his life’s obsession to accumulate exceptional 78 r.p.m. records — some 15,000 of them, encompassing jazz, blues, state, jug band and gospel — and who spread his appreciate for the songs on radio and among people who joined him to pay attention to the fragile disks in his basement, died on Monday at his house in Frederick, Md., one particular floor higher than his hoard. He was 86.

His death, in hospice care, was confirmed by his daughter, Susannah Anderson. She reported the result in was pancreatic most cancers, which was identified in 2019.

“He essentially lived the tracks, breathed the tracks and passed them on to as many individuals as he could,” John Tefteller, a uncommon-records vendor and auctioneer, said in a telephone job interview. “It was his life from morning to evening. I consider him a national treasure.”

And any enthusiast of his treasures could arrive to his household and hear to his 78s.

“Anybody who received ahold of him, he’d say, ‘Come on over,’” Ms. Anderson stated.

From his house in close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mr. Bussard (pronounced boo-SARD) drove the state roadways of the South trying to find 78s that had been languishing in people’s residences. He was selective about what he brought back to his basement. He beloved jazz but detested any jazz recorded soon after the early 1930s. He cherished nation songs but decreed that nothing excellent came right after 1955. Nashville? He termed it “Trashville.” Rock ’n’ roll? A cancer.

“How can you listen to Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw when you’ve listened to Jelly Roll Morton?” he said in an job interview with The Associated Push in 2001. “It’s like coming out of a mansion and living in a hen coop.”

Just one working day, in the 1960s, Mr. Bussard was driving the streets of Tazewell, a modest city in Virginia — the sort of area he normally canvassed door to doorway, asking men and women if they had 78s — when he met an aged male who said he had some 78s at the shotgun shack where by he lived.

From a dusty box below the man’s bed, Mr. Bussard observed some excellent country information (Uncle Dave Macon, the Carter relatives) and then the form of mind-blowing discoveries he craved: a 78 on the Black Patti label, which recorded jazz, blues and spirituals in the late 1920s.

“‘Oh my Gahhd!’” he recalled imagining in the liner notes to his CD “Down in the Basement: Joe Bussard’s Treasure Trove of Classic 78s” (2002). “It was all I could do to hold my hands from trembling.”

“So I laid it down, you know, and mentioned, ‘Oh, which is good,” he continued. “The old man suggests, ‘Oh, them, there is a good deal of them in there.’”

There were being 15 Black Patti documents, and the aged gentleman, who did not treatment for them, asked for $10 for the bunch. Yrs later, Mr. Bussard stated, he was made available $30,000 for a person of them, “Original Stack O’Lee Blues” by Prolonged Cleve Reed and Small Harvey Hull. He didn’t sell it.

“When I depart this environment,” he included, “I feel I’m gonna have that document laying on leading of me in my coffin.”

Mr. Bussard designed his lifestyle close to his information. Right after doing the job in a supermarket and in his family’s farm source company, he held no normal task immediately after the late 1950s. He was supported by his wife, Esther (Keith) Bussard, a hairdresser, and his moms and dads.

“It’s like my mom and I had been in one particular world, he was in a further,” Susannah Anderson claimed in a mobile phone interview. “It was difficult. He was like an absent father, even while he was in the property.”

In a profile of Mr. Bussard in Washington City Paper in 1999, his spouse was quoted as stating that if she experienced not been a “born-again, spirit-filled Christian, who the working day I married him manufactured a commitment to God,” she “would have still left very long ago.”

But, she extra, she liked audio as nicely (she blared bluegrass documents in an additional element of the house although her husband blared his new music from the basement), highly regarded his collection and appreciated that he was “saving it for background.”

Mr. Bussard uncovered kinship in individuals like Ivy Sheppard, a disc jockey and 78 collector with whom he recorded radio packages for numerous stations together with WAMU in Washington and WBCM in Bristol, Va., all developed typically around his unusual documents but also like some of hers. He recorded demonstrates for a selection of stations above a lot more than 40 years.

Ms. Sheppard recalled that she and Mr. Bussard generally talked for hours on the phone though listening to information. She described checking out his basement as “the biggest encounter in the environment.”

She included, “I’m dropped in this earth with no that nuts old guy. He was my greatest pal.”

Joseph Edward Bussard Jr. was born in Frederick on July 11, 1936. His father ran a farm source small business, and his mother, Viola (Culler) Bussard, was a homemaker.

When he was 7 or 8, Joe began stocking up on information by Gene Autry, the star of western videos who was regarded as “the Singing Cowboy” within just a handful of many years he heard the region singer Jimmie Rodgers and was smitten. When he couldn’t locate any of Rodgers’s data at a neighborhood store, he commenced searching for them, knocking on neighborhood doors right until a female gave him a box that contained two of Rodgers’s 78s.

As a teen, he started web hosting a community radio display from his parents’ basement. When he obtained his driver’s license, he expanded his research for the data he beloved — the 78s manufactured of difficult, brittle shellac resin, the format that preceded vinyl — while canvassing in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

It became an obsession, 1 that delighted him and manufactured him dance and enjoy air sax, air guitar and air banjo in his basement. (He also played the guitar and mandolin.)

He manufactured 1 final vacation a month back, to a flea current market in Emmittsburg, Md., in research of 78s, but didn’t uncover any.

“He had a good deal of document looking still left in him,” Ms. Anderson stated, including that there were being no strategies, for now, to move the assortment.

Mr. Bussard not only gathered 78s he also constructed a basement studio in his parents’ dwelling in the 1950s to make his individual. Less than his Fonotone label, he recorded artists like the Possum Holler Boys, a country and rockabilly band, and the Tennessee Mess Arounders, a blues group (he was a member of both equally), as perfectly as the influential fingerstyle guitarist John Fahey. (He later on moved his selection and his studio to the household he shared with his wife and daughter.)

A five-CD collection made up of 131 of Mr. Bussard’s 78s, “Fonotone Documents: Frederick Maryland (1956-1969),” was introduced in 2005 by Dust-to-Digital and nominated for a Grammy Award for greatest boxed or unique confined-version package.

In 2003, Mr. Bussard was the matter of a documentary, “Desperate Person Blues: Identifying the Roots of American Music,” directed by Edward Gillan.

In addition to Ms. Anderson, he is survived by three granddaughters. His wife died in 1999.

After, in a minimal coal town in southwest Virginia, Mr. Bussard requested a gas station attendant where he could find information and was told to go to a close by components shop. When he received there, the operator guided him to a cache of 5,000 information, which had never ever been performed.

“The very first a person I pulled out was ‘Sobbin’ Blues,’ by King Oliver on Okeh, completely new, at the very least a $400 history,” he excitedly recalled in the Washington Town Paper interview, referring to a report label launched in 1918. “The upcoming one I pulled out was ‘Jackass Blues’ on Vocalion by the Dixie Syncopators.” He picked out 4 stacks of 78s and compensated $100.

“I was so substantial when I went out of that retail store,” he stated, “I could have floated.”