Red Cat Records and The Legend of Buddy by Dave Gowan
I (intern artist lisa w) met with Dave (left) and Lasse (right), co-owners of Red Cat Records on a rainy Monday afternoon at 4332 Main Street. Dave and Lasse both used to be in the Vancouver band the Buttless Chaps, and had toured across Canada for a while. They both dreamed of owning their own record store, though, and when Dave heard his friend Andrew opened up Red Cat, he was glad to work there.
Above: an image of the staff picks wall. The employees' current favourite albums.
Amy and Andrew were the original owners, who opened the record store in 2002. The record store has moved three times throughout the same block on Main Street. I had always wondered: 'Why the name Red Cat?', so I asked them about it today, and got to hear the amazing story of Buddy the cat.
Amy and Andrew owned two cats, one was hairless as Andrew was allergic, and Buddy was an orange tabby cat with quite a disgruntled demeanor who was found one day in the alley behind the store. The owners adopted him, worried because he seemed to have lived a hard life. He and the other cat never got along. Buddy lived in the back room of the original Red Cat Records store, and eventually ventured out and had his own seat in the storefront. He had a sign near him to warn that he was not nice, and that children shouldn’t pet him.
Dave remembers a time when a kid in a one-piece snowsuit innocently approached buddy, hoping to pet him. Buddy stuck both of his paws onto either side of the child’s hooded head, ready to attack. Dave thought surely they would be sued, but was thankful the kid was not seriously harmed. He was relieved when the little boy’s father reacted by saying “Live ‘n learn, kid.” Buddy sure gave him a good lesson that day.
People used to come to the record store specifically to see Buddy. Dave remembers when Lasse first started working at the store, a stream of people came in to see Buddy; they also owned orange tabby cats and showed Dave and Lasse pictures of their 6 cats. Dave recalls how amazed he was with the loyal following of orange-cat-lovers. Lasse was slightly weirded out by the stores clientele, but was reassured that their customers did not always bring in pictures of their orange tabby cats.
Buddy sadly got sick late in his life, and even had surgery, but eventually died when he was about 10 or 12 years old. His life had a big impact on many people. There is a painting of him hung in Red Cat that people still come to look at. Dave said that people sometimes come back to see Buddy, and had actually wept when he informed them of his death.
Buddy left a lasting legacy, though. On top of being the muse of a record store, Buddy was featured in a Japanese toy commercial (which I believe exists but no amount of googling will help me find!), and was the subject of a cd recorded by now 60 year old American Musician Ry Cooder who recieved a mysterious drawing of Buddy in the mail. The cd is called My Name is Buddy.