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A hobby worth having… Kyle Bowles’ record-setting vinyl record collection

From attire to posters of music stars, Kyle Bowles’ decades-long hobby has grown substantially. He has collected around 10,000 vinyl record albums since he began in 1965.
Photo courtesy of Jimmy Lowe

By Allyson Dix, Jobe Publishing, Inc.

Tucked away in the small community of Temple Hill is an avid collector of vinyl record albums and other music memorabilia, a near lifelong hobby for one man that began nearly 60 years ago.

It was a Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs album that started Kyle Bowles’ vinyl-seeking journey, one that would ultimately grow to around 10,000 vinyl records.
“Then from there I started buying them every once in a while,” Kyle shared. At the time, Kyle said he didn’t even own a record player before his love of vinyl albums started but after landing a couple of jobs in high school, he was able to buy himself one.

“I came up very poor,” he continued, “I car hopped at Tasty Freeze when I was in school and worked for J.J. Newberry’s during high school. When I started making a little money, I bought me one.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t just the music that would draw Kyle in with vinyl records, it was often the detailed album covers themselves he appreciated and enjoyed.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, vinyl records became the rage and while Kyle may have had a small role in it, the sales industry for vinyl albums skyrocketed.

A few years after picking up a few here and there, he just started buying albums on a regular basis and became a frequent visitor of the old Rice’s Radio and TV shop.

“I’d go down to Rice’s Radio and TV shop off the square in Glasgow often,” Kyle said, “One day I was looking around for something to buy and she recommended Glenn Campbell when he first came out.”

It was Eleanor Rice who recommended the Glenn Campbell album to Kyle, she was the prior owner of Rice’s Radio and TV Service alongside her husband, Ellis, until the early 1990s.

Kyle says he didn’t care too much for Glenn so he opted for a Bill Anderson album, one he also didn’t care too much for, but it ended up being one that he favored a lot.

“I ended up buying the Bill Anderson album and then I just fell in love with all those old songs, ya know?” He would go on to own every vinyl record album by the singer-songwriter.

Rice’s Radio shop was the place to be for the newest music since there was a weekly Billboard magazine with all the songs making the top charts around the nation.

By the time he married his wife, Linda, in 1979, Kyle owned around 100 albums. On his way to work that year, he stopped at a yard sale and purchased seven or eight albums at once.

“From there, the collection just took off,” Kyle said.

“I started hitting yard sales, consignment shops, Goodwill, everywhere looking for them,” he said. It wasn’t just the albums, it was the hunt for them that became the best part of his hobby.

“I just still love to get out and hunt for them,” he explained, “the hunt is always better than finding it.”

Recently, Kyle decided to start selling his vinyl records from his ultimate collection near and far.

Kyle, a humble yet humorous gentleman, chuckled when he asked his wife, Linda, if he could share what she said the fate of his vinyl records would be had he not stepped in and made the decision to start selling them.

“First of last year, we’s talking one day and she said if something happened to me, they’d probably end up at the Salvation Army,” Kyle said, half smiling with a pensive gaze.

Kyle’s interest has waxed and waned through the years in collecting his musical memorabilia, and he said he might as well start selling them. It especially waned after his call to preach in 1996. Nonetheless, he continued to come across vinyl records to add to his collection although his interest had declined.

The older country music was one of the genres he favored quite a bit, but as most have experienced with such genre, those songs can be quite depressing.

“All that country beer drinking, cheating songs, and all that, just leave ya feeling so bad,” Kyle smiled again, “But I’ve got a whole lot of gospel, too, and those songs can uplift you.” Kyle said country gospel is one of the largest genres within his vinyl collection.

Music is perhaps one of the most profound tools for mankind for many reasons. Extensive research has shown what seems to be an unending list of positive effects music can do for the mind, the soul, and for each other, although many didn’t need research to know these things. But it does accent the importance and appreciation music has in our lives.

One of the roles music has in our lives is the amazing way it creates connections and closeness for humans, and it brings people together, oftentimes where paths may have never crossed otherwise.

Kyle’s journey hasn’t just been about vinyl albums, but the numerous encounters he’s made in the music world and time spent enjoying all of the aspects that come with music and musicians.

Kyle’s son, Dane Bowles, has a passion for music as well and it would be difficult to deny that some of that comes from his dad.

“It’s hard to know just how much dad influenced my love of music–there’s a deep appreciation for music, and a lot of talent, on both sides of my family–but there’s no doubt a lot of it comes from dad’s passion for it,” Dane said.

A part of Dane’s love for music doesn’t stem from only his father’s massive music collection, but the footsteps he walked alongside Kyle through the years.

“It’s not just his collection, but how much I was immersed in that world, too,” Dane added, “We went to lots of live shows when I was a kid, and I met tons of the older country stars from the time I was probably a toddler or maybe younger.”

While the material collection has grown, perhaps, more importantly, are the passions and love for music intertwined with the memories of days gone by that have carried down from Kyle to Dane, and now Dane’s four-year-old daughter, Piper.

Piper also loves to sing and perform. She is also one of the biggest Dolly Parton fans around.

But for Kyle, while he may have one of the largest collections of vinyl records in Barren County, his pursuit of music memorabilia has been more than material items.

Dane said it best, “I think maybe that’s what people don’t always see in his collection, is that it hasn’t been just a collection, for a long time it was really a way of life.”

Kyle Bowles holding a purple suit once owned by Porter Wagoner, a country music star known for his flashy suits. Porter signed the inside of the suit before giving it to Kyle. Photo courtesy by Jimmy Lowe

Kyle Bowles with some of his music memorabilia. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Lowe



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