This is why so many were hit hard by the news that the store’s longtime former owner, Jerry Weber, passed away on Jan. 28 at the age of 73.
“Jerry was a local legend who brought the love of vinyl to the area and more importantly the appreciation of music to many generations,” reads Weber’s online obituary. “Jerry loved to bring happiness and music appreciation to everyone he encountered. He will be eternally missed and infinitely loved.”
From what a Pittsburgh City Paper article once called a “vast vinyl catacomb, a collector's paradise glutted with crates upon crates of good records for cheap,” Weber bought and sold records for nearly five decades. The Jerry’s Records website touts itself as being home to “half a million albums, 12″ singles, 45s, and EPs.”
The business started on Forbes Avenue in the 1980s before moving to its Squirrel Hill location in 1994. The pursuit was a passion for Weber, who set out to preserve a form of media that was quickly giving way to cassettes and, down the line, CDs, MP3s, and streaming platforms.
“People are convinced that records aren't worth anything,” Weber told City Paper in 2006. “I get calls all the time and they say, ‘This is what I got,’ and when I tell them their records aren't really what I'm looking for, they say they'll just put them in a Dumpster. That's when I say, ‘Records in Dumpsters? Not on my watch.’”
According to the Jerry’s Records website, Weber retired (kind of) in 2017, passing ownership on to his longtime employee Chris Grauzer.
Reactions on social media in the wake of Weber’s death reflect how many lives he touched in the time he spent collecting and selling records.
Local DJ J. Malls wrote on Instagram, “I don’t have the right words. I don’t want to write anything. Yet I could write a book. I worked for him for 21 years and change. Nobody in my life ever did more for me. I literally wouldn’t have my house if it weren’t for him. A great boss, kind of a father figure as I think many saw him (Jerry would say ‘I have enough kids’) and a great friend who I will never forget. Going to miss him a lot.”
“Just 3 weeks ago, I was digging through records at his warehouse. I wish I had known then that would be the last time I would ever see him,” reads an Instagram post from fellow Pittsburgh DJ Buscrates. “To say I am gutted is a massive understatement. We really just lost an entire institution with his passing. What he meant to us. I can’t even put into words. This is heartbreaking. Last of the OGs. Thank you so much for everything, Jerry. You will forever be missed.”
A Twitter post from the Pittsburgh radio station WYEP spoke to Weber's vast musical knowledge, saying he "forgot more about music in any given week than the best scholar learns in a lifetime."
Famous clientele also offered their condolences, including The Roots drummer Questlove, who posted to his Facebook page, “Ahhh man I can’t even express the joy of all the record shopping pilgrimages one can have going to Jerry's Records in Pittsburgh. Wow man….a loss. Thank You Jerry!”
According to his online obituary, Weber was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Brenda, and is survived by his children Johnna Carik and Willie Weber, and his grandchildren, Jade, Woodrow, Zach, Tyler, and Sophia.