Backstory: 17 years later, back in the news

Bill

Ed Kemmick/Last Best News

From the clip files: My original story on Bill Reichert from Aug. 21, 2000.

There are some good things about being a dinosaur.

I first wrote about Bill Reichert and his amazing collection of 45-rpm records 17 years ago, and my story was published in the Billings Gazette on Aug. 21, 2000.

He had about 10,000 45s then, which was amazing enough, as were his almost comically meticulous records documenting each disc.

I hadn’t seen Bill in the intervening 17 years, but last week I heard from Dick Wesnick, editor of the Gazette when that story was published, alerting me to some cool news: that Bill was about to donate his entire collection to the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University.

So I caught up with Bill earlier this week, spoke with the director of the Tennessee center and posted my story this morning. What a rare treat and a strange privilege to be able to follow up on something like this all these years later.

The original story was published too long ago for it to be in the Gazette’s digital archives, but fortunately I used to clip everything I wrote and glue the stories into spiral notebooks (did I mention that I was a dinosaur?), and above you’ll see a photo of the original.

My only regret is that I didn’t take photographer Jim Woodcock along with me this time. My photos weren’t too bad, but even on my best day I could never hope to get a shot like the Woodcock photo accompanying the original story. Oh, well.

And I wanted to add this: I mentioned a few things about the Center for Popular Music in the story, but I recommend clicking on the link and doing some exploring there yourself. I’ve been a fan of old-time American music for most of my life, so talking to center director Gregory Reish on the phone was like being a kid and talking to Santa Claus.

What a huge honor that our own Bill Reichert, a product of Wolf Point and a longtime resident of Billings, is making this donation to such a fine institution.

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