Wallace, though, also sees value in Burnett's Eight-Track Museum efforts: "If someone's doing that," he says, "then that's great."

Turns out, though, Burnett isn't the first person to have come up with the idea of an eight-track tape museum. That designation belongs to Bob Hiemenz, a semi-retired newspaper publisher in Flora, Illinois, who for the past few years has been engaged in a similar effort. And he might be more qualified than Burnett to run such an entity.

His eight-track collection numbers somewhere in the vicinity of 69,000 tapes—the largest collection in the world. Like Burnett and the Gibsons, his collection started by accident: Hidden within a home stereo console he'd bought at a thrift store to mine for parts to repair a different set of speakers, he found a small collection of tapes that, for no particular reason, spoke to him. And then he just kept buying more and more of them. Doing so earned him quite the reputation, too. Before long, people just started giving them to him. Three years ago, he was given a set of 30,000 tapes by the widow of a New Mexico collector.

On Monday, February 14, Bucks Burnett will open the world's first eight-track museum. And yes, he knows how weird of an idea that is.
Allison V. Smith
On Monday, February 14, Bucks Burnett will open the world's first eight-track museum. And yes, he knows how weird of an idea that is.
Eight-tracks started falling out of favor with the major labels in 1982 and were last mass-produced in 1988.
But Burnett and a handful of other locals are hoping to reignite interest in the dead format.
Allison V. Smith
Eight-tracks started falling out of favor with the major labels in 1982 and were last mass-produced in 1988. But Burnett and a handful of other locals are hoping to reignite interest in the dead format.

"Little old ladies, they just send them to me," Hiemenz says.

Sometimes, they don't even know his name. When the post office receives a package addressed to "the eight-track guy in Flora," the postal workers in this town of 5,000 know exactly for whom it's intended.

"I'm the eight-track hoarder," Hiemenz admits. "I just think they're so neat."

And, like Burnett, he wants others to appreciate the medium, too.

"I think there should be an eight-track museum in every state in the United States," he says.

First, though, he'd like one in Flora. One problem: The city isn't so sure about that.

For the past few years, Hiemenz, a former member of the Flora City Council, has been embroiled in a debate with the current powers that be. There's a vacant building downtown, he says, that would make for a perfect spot for his museum. It could be a tourist attraction for Flora, he says, a non-profit museum (unlike Burnett's) that would benefit various youth organizations in town. In exchange, he's asked the town to pay its electric and water bills. But the city refuses. And so the debate rages on.

To hear Hiemenz tell it, it's become quite the hot-button issue in Flora—so significant, he says, that it might sway upcoming elections.

"We think it'll happen eventually," he says. "It's just a matter of time."

Unfortunately for him, though, come Valentine's Day, the opportunity to open the first eight-track museum in the world will have passed from Hiemenz and Flora to Burnett and Dallas.

Walking around his still-being-prepared museum, Burnett is quick to extol the eight-track format's virtues.

"You look at this stuff, and you can just envision people driving around, listening to the music of their choice, or taking their music with them to the beach for the first time," he says. But, more than that, he argues, their existence alone is enough to merit celebration. "Every format is an important part of a band's output," he says. "If it's official product, it's an official part of that band's history."

That, actually, is how Burnett got turned on to eight-tracks in the first place. A near-maniacal Beatles fan, Burnett got into the eight-track game because, at a garage sale in the M Streets, he found an eight-track copy of the Beatles' white album. (Fun fact: The white album, in eight-track form, comes in black packaging.) He bought it, took the tape home, placed it on a mantel in his living room, and got inspired.

"I just thought," he says, "'How cool would it be to have all the Beatles' eight-tracks?'"

It took him five years to complete his collection—which, he believes, is the only complete Beatles eight-track collection in the world. While building this Beatles collection, though, he started acquiring other cartridges along the way.

"You see five Pink Floyd tapes at a garage sale and what are you gonna do, not buy them?" he asks rhetorically.

Now, though his isn't the biggest collection, he's convinced that it's the most impressively curated.

"I want the best and the coolest and the rarest and the most beautiful," he says.

And, Burnett believes, people will be interested in seeing that—so much so that he has tentative plans to open a second Eight-Track Museum in Brooklyn, New York, by 2012.

Professor Thompson tends to agree with him about the level of interest.

"I imagine that a lot of people, by just hearing about this museum, would be happy to make a pilgrimage to go see it," he says.

The early returns would seem to back Thompson up. With every turn Burnett has taken to celebrate the eight-track, there's only been more interest awaiting him. It started in 2009, when he was invited to showcase his collection as an art exhibit in the Barry Whistler Gallery. That show led to him displaying his collection at Denton's annual music festival, the 35 Conferette—where he, for the first time, started calling it, "The Eight-Track Museum." With that exhibit, the national media caught wind; The Wall Street Journal even featured his efforts in a front-page piece the day of his Denton opening.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
jesusissavior.chris
jesusissavior.chris

Please bring back 8 track decks, players, and recorders back into the production line again.  Also please bring back quality cassette decks back into prouction line again  I would like to see  8 track and cassette decks brand new in stores in my hometown.  Also, bring back the cassette boombox.

Joshua
Joshua

Well, I can play them all in my 1975 cadillac eldorado convertible that was MADE for top down, nite time cruisin with the volume up to compete with the wind noise...and smokin those ole cigars. yeeeeehhhhh (kinda like ole Howard Dean's campaign swan song washout..)

JoseF
JoseF

Hated them , it wpould stop in the middle of a song to switch to the next track, terrible.Cassettes were/are better.

Cdkase07
Cdkase07

"Go Bucks Burnett" I am glad you are bringing more attention to this exciting format.I have several players and loads of tapes.I taught myself to repair them a few yers ago(a must if you want to play them).A lot has been said about the disadvantages of them but I have to say..being an audiophile with high end vintage equipment such as Marantz,Pioneer,etc..I love the sound of 8 tracks..I have a pioneer hr-100 tape deck (a beast) and the sound when playing a good tape (new splice and pads are a must) is superb..I mean shockingly good..I understand peoples frustration as there are a lot of varibles which must be met(proper tape speed,good pads,etc) but when all the stars are "aligned" (the tape head too !) the sound in my opion is even better than the flat, compressed,sound of digital.Sure digital is great for instant track access but for the remainder of us who do not have A D D and enjoy listening to an entire recording it is quite an experience ! KEEP ON TRACKIN'Chris Kase

Snail22858
Snail22858

i have lots of 8-tracks if u but them u may contact me at snail22858@yahoo.com also on facebook

Dplanedplane
Dplanedplane

"More Than 20 Years After Their Death?" It's closer to 30, but I digress. 8-track tapes, at the time, were a welcome format due to their portability. Home, car, boat, etc., one could finally take music virtually anywhere. Quite a novelty at the time.

Yes, there were problems with the format as the tape casings themselves were usually glued together, being but one. And, yes, the playback head did move up/down the tape itself to the desired track which caused not only wear on the tape, but alignment problems of the head, as well. Old-timers may remember 'cross-talk' on 8-track tapes. Tape speed was 3.75 ips which was standard on most reel-to-reel decks. The demise of this format came about mainly to a lack of quality or high-end equipment, the slip-shod glued casings, and transfer capability - recording to an existing blank 8-track tape, among others.

When good sounding, financially viable cassette recorders/playback machines became available in the late 60's, I like many, switched to this format because the tape shells were reliable, they had multiple heads which alleviated alignment issues, and even though the tape speed was half that of 8-tracks, they were superior in sound, much smaller, and one could record up to 120 minutes on a single cassette. Then Nakamichi introduced the Tri-Tracer in '74, and the hand writing was on the wall.

Continued to play 8-tracks in my cars until 1980. They were a source of great enjoyment for myself and others for many years. The idea of the museum is a cool idea. I mean, why not? Take the kids (grand kids?) and tell 'em what old grand dad used to listen to. Of course, if you really want to freak 'em out, show them a 45 rpm!

tiedye
tiedye

As a veteran to the audio repair industry with 25 years of experience I have a real problem with 8 tracks. Some ideas are just bad. 8 track was one. 8 track's one advantage, being able to switch between 4 songs at the push of a button is exceeded by every format in digital. Keep in mind you didn't get to jump to the beginning of songs, you switched to a random place, usually in the middle.The list of disadvantages:The tape head has to move up and down. This makes alignment difficult and not very precise.The tape has to slide against itself. It requires lubrication which eventually fails and the tape self destroys. IT sis very bad in cold weather.The tape to head speed is relatively slow which means sonically the medium is inferior (Nathan Brown is either totally ignorant or he expects readers to be gullible. There were very few highend 8 track players ever built, none could stand up sonically to a good turntable and record. I have a good turntable and would bring it out for a head to head A/B comparison any day. (It would be a landslide)

After resisting the switch to Cassette tapes for years I finally threw my Akai 8 track recorder and about a hunerd tapes in the garbage bask in the 70s. I still have a hi-end turntable and about a hunerd albums. Many of them out perform the digital recordings of today. Super CDs come close. 8 tracks not so much. If you don't believe me ask ANY older audio repair technician what he thinks of 8 track.

Mike butts
Mike butts

Good to see it. Have about 200 myself. Also in 1967 had a 4 track player installed in my car with 2 speakers for 29.95$ .

Jada
Jada

I don t mind 8 tracks resurrection. I would love for cassettes to come back strong. C D's are terrible, scratches and they dont even last near as long as an 8 track or cassette tape. and bring back polaroid film too, no joke.

nathan brown
nathan brown

geez...i mean, i get why people have such a miserable view about 8 tracks. for one, making fun of them is built into pop culture (even if there is no prior experience), and we'd hate to disagree with the majority, right? also, most people's experience is hearing them through a mono speaker in a crappy portable player or in a car system from the 70s (most car manufacturers didn't start making stock systems/speakers actually sound good until the late 80s). i have no need for nostalgia or novelty. i'm a musician and most of my music has been recorded digitally from the mid 90s to the mid 2000s. then i discovered analog recording and 8 track listening. according to my ears, what i record onto my 8 track recorders is what i get out. that's what you want from any transfer. 8 tracks' bad rap is not because of the technology or tape itself, but rather due to lack of care in the manufacturing, materials, presentation, and consumer. i used to think records sounded great until i heard refurbished 8 tracks through a good deck and sound system. digital...it literally falls flat and i can't stand to listen to it anymore. then there's the issue of having patience while listening to 8 tracks as they move at their own pace without scanning or skipping around (though some decks offer "advanced" options). 200 years ago anyone of us would have been blown away to even hear live music. now we need every album in our pocket. a bunch of spoiled a-holes we are (myself partially included). i like subjecting myself to one of, if not, the closest format to hearing a band live on their time/terms - 8 track. listening to 8 track makes you a better listener.

K8Tracker
K8Tracker

Fun interview. Very nice (and long) article Pete! Thanks for taking the time to come out and talk with us. We've been able to do so many things because of these crazy 8-tracks. We've met some cool folks like Bucks and many others. Got VIP tickets to the taping of Wheel of Fortune and met Vanna and got our picture taken behind the wheel. Shipped 8-tracks all over the US and around the world. Recorded new 8-tracks in the 21st century. 8-tracks... who would have thunk it!

akquillabootay
akquillabootay

Anyone remeber quadrophonic 8's?Quadrophenia by the who?

yokel
yokel

Wow. Does he also have a collection of brick phones like the one made popular by Zach Morris on Saved By The Bell? While somewhat technologically significant, historically speaking, they are crap so why the fuss over an 8-track collection?

Hardly Coffin
Hardly Coffin

I've still got an 8-track of Burl Ive's "Jimmy Crack Corn ... and I don't care". Wonder what it's worth?

Dr. P
Dr. P

Everyone always waxes nostalgic over the 8 track tape. No one seems to remember the front runner to it, the 4 track tape. Was introduced a year or two sooner. Same technology but monaural. Both sucked. No way to search...listening to your favorite song meant listening to an entire track...and then, when you least needed it...the tape would start the dreaded squeaking, the harbinger of death!!

nathan brown
nathan brown

yes!! chris, so glad to hear that you've met the right combination that unlocks the excellent sound quality 8 tracks can poses. this is the exact situation i'm trying to promote through my 8 track label/production company - the dead media. please feel free to contact me through my website - deadmediatapes.com - as i'd like to discuss a couple of related items with you.

nathan brown
nathan brown

yeah, i've run into plenty of you "vets". wish there were a way to invest money in your opinions. then i could put a wad of cash in your mouth to do repair work for me. if you did your research, you'd know that part of my interest in 8 tracks is reversing consumer laziness and utter convenience that has obviously swallowed you whole. a baby boomer you are, no doubt. in all fairness, i am ignorant....ask my wife.

 
Loading...