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Tributes paid as Alastair ‘Breeks’ Brodie, owner of iconic Dundee record store Groucho’s, dies

Alastair ‘Breeks’ Brodie outside Groucho's.
Alastair ‘Breeks’ Brodie outside Groucho's.

Tributes have been pouring in for the owner of an iconic Dundee record store following his death.

Alastair Brodie, known affectionately by the nickname “Breeks”, passed away on Tuesday night.

Alastair Brodie in his store when it was known as Groucho’s Record and Tape Exchange and was based on Marketgait. He was photographed by us at the time after making badges urging Dundee United’s then-manager Jim McLean to reconsider his decision to resign. Photo taken on 11/7/88.

The 65-year-old was the owner of Groucho’s on the Nethergate and sold vinyl records in the city for 43 years.

Mr Brodie had been suffering from various health issues for some time but took a turn for the worse a few weeks ago.

Breeks at work in Grouchos

He had been in Ninewells Hospital for the past week.

His health is said to have deteriorated rapidly and his passing has come as a shock to family and friends.

A joint statement from Mr Brodie’s family and colleagues has been issued by Groucho’s following his death.

Alastair (Breeks) Brodie, 1953-2019.It is with a very heavy heart and much sadness that we have to announce the passing…

Posted by Groucho's Record Store on Wednesday, 31 July 2019

It reads: “Alastair (Breeks) Brodie, 1953-2019. It is with a very heavy heart and much sadness that we have to announce the passing of Alastair or Breeks as many will know him.

Thanks for accepting me as a Groucho’s person — a personal tribute to legendary music shop owner Breeks Brodie

“As the co-founder then sole proprietor of Groucho’s Record Store since 1976, he has been a mainstay of both the independent retailers of Dundee and more importantly the music scene in the city.

“There are few people who can say they have never been in to Groucho’s, nevertheless there are generations of Dundonians, fans and musicians who have enjoyed a real music retail experience in one of Dundee’s best loved shops all thanks to the genuine love of music with which Breeks filled the shop.

40 and not out: “Breeks” on why Groucho’s continues to thrive

“He passed away on Tuesday, July 30 following a short stay in hospital. He was surrounded by his loving family and took with him the love of many more friends, relatives and well-wishers.

“Funeral arrangements to follows, but the family would like to thank the excellent care and attention Alastair received from Wards Seven, Nine and 20 during his stay at Ninewells as well as support staff.”

The tribute ends with a quote from Jimi Hendrix, one of Mr Brodie’s favourite musicians.

It reads: “The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye…until we meet again.”

Alastair Brodie in Groucho’s on 26/12/99.

Mr Brodie was born in Edinburgh in 1953.

He moved to Dundee where he opened Groucho’s aged 22.

Mr Brodie’s nephew, Dundee author Chae Strathie, is among those paying tribute to his “coolest uncle”.

“Everyone thought he’d pull through,” he added.

“Things deteriorated suddenly on Monday night and he went downhill quite rapidly and the family were called in yesterday.

Browsing records in Grouchos, Dundee

“Breeks was so many things to so many people in Dundee, and for decades. He opened Groucho’s in 1976 and stuck with it all through the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond.

“When you think of all the musicians who would have gathered there over that time. It was a hub for so many different musicians: Michael Marra, the Average White Band right up to Kyle Falconer and The View.”

Alastair Brodie in Groucho’s.

Mr Strathie said: “Grouchos was his life. He wasn’t from Dundee originally, he was from Edinburgh. Everyone assumed he was from Dundee because he spoke like a Dundonian and acted like a Dundonian.

“You couldn’t meet a more passionate Dundonian. He loved the city and he really loved its people. There will be people who’ve been coming to Groucho’s for 40 years.”

Last year Mr Brodie had announced his plans to retire in August 2019, citing health reasons for the decision.

Thanks for accepting me as a Groucho’s person — a personal tribute to legendary music shop owner Breeks Brodie

Groucho’s was also facing closure for a time after the shop’s landlord announced last year his intention to sell the premises.

However in February 2019 the store’s future was secured when a deal was struck with the new owner of the building Jamal Property World.

The agreement extended the Groucho’s lease by five years.

Mr Strathie said: “That was a real source of joy for him and he was never going to retire. He was Groucho’s.

“Even if he hadn’t been going into the shop every day he would have been sorting records at home. It really wasn’t a job to him, it was his life. Absolutely it was everything to him.”

Groucho’s is one of the most well-known and best-loved record stores in Scotland.

Music-lovers browsing through LPs and records in Groucho’s.

Perth writer and broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove – who has written extensively about soul music – also paid tribute to Mr Brodie.

He has previously described the shop as a “rite of passage” for music-lovers in Tayside.

Mr Cosgrove said: “Breeks was one of Tayside’s great influencers. New bands, underground classics and hidden classics; he had a passion for music that resonated in the community.”

Groucho’s is popular with a number of celebrities including Johnny Marr, formerly of the Smiths, who has described it as one of the top two shops of its kind in the UK.

Other famous fans include comic Lenny Henry and Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green.

Dundee United FC, who Mr Brodie followed devoutly, also paid tribute to him.

The club posted: “We are sad to hear of the passing of passionate Arab Alastair (Breeks) Brodie after illness.

“Breeks, 65, was a well known and popular face around Tannadice having supported the club for many years and established the Tangerine Trading Post shops. He will be sadly missed.”

Mr Brodie was a lifelong member of Dundee United fans group The Arab Trust.

Associate Director of the organisation Stuart Campbell said it was a “sad, sad, day”.

“He was an all-round great guy and a true Arab,” he said.

“He was so helpful to us over the years both as a board member and as a friend really.

“It’s an incredibly sad day for the city though, never mind the Arab Trust.

“His shop is an institution in Dundee.”

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