The secret history and celebrity customers of rock and roll music shop Modern Music

When Truro’s favourite rock and roll music shop Modern Music first started out people said that it couldn’t be done and for a time it looked like they could be right – but 35 years later the shop is still going strong.

From its humble beginnings in 1982, when owner Andy Pascoe had to sleep in the store to stop the multiple break-ins, to being visited by guitar legend Peter Green, this is the story of how Modern Music has been bringing rock and roll to the city for more than three decades.

Cornwall Live spoke to Andy and his son Aaron, who is now partner in the business, to find out a bit more about one of the oldest music shops in Truro.

Aaron said: “My father had worked in a couple of music shops in Truro, but they were more general shops.

“One day he thought he would try to open one himself, one that would sell more group gear for the local bands, with PAs and drum kits and just a bit more rock and roll. He wanted to break the general mould of music shops.

“When he first started out, the other shops said that it couldn’t be done in Cornwall, that there wasn’t a big enough market to sell this sort of stuff down here. Back in those days, everyone travelled to London to get the proper equipment or rarer guitars.

“It was a bit slower at the start, but word got around. Now we can sell a lot of the higher end guitars because we’ve built up that base, even though we are a smaller shop.”

The shop often has sought-after instruments on its shelves and only last month sold an incredibly rare guitar which was one of just 75 made in the entire world.

The Martin guitar was a steel-strung acoustic, which was created in celebration of what would have been John Lennon’s 75 birthday.

But it wasn’t always quite as successful, Aaron said that when the shop first opened in 1982, it got off to rough start.

Aaron added: “The hardest part of it all was right at the start. When dad first opened the shop he had a lot of break-ins. It was quite targeted.

“It took a while for some of the local people to be happy about the shop because it was thought of as quite ‘rock and roll’.

“Bricks got thrown through the windows a lot. It got so bad that my dad actually had to sleep in the shop at the start with our pet Doberman. She was a big softy and wouldn’t have hurt a fly, but it helped deter people from breaking in.

“We have our moments, there’s never a dull moment.”

Over the decades the shop built up a good reputation and became a “second home” for musicians, even attracting some well-known names.

Andy and Aaron Pasco with some of the guitars and speakers that the shop has become well-known for

“We’ve had a few big names in over the years,” said Aaron.

“Sam Palladio, who plays Gunner Scott on the American series Nashville, which is really popular in the states, he’s actually from Penzance originally. He comes in on occasion. He’s actually quite a big name, but he’s so down to earth.

“We’ve also had Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac come in and all the local bands use us. You never know who could walk through that door.

“We were part of the campaign to try to get the Foo Fighters to play in Cornwall, it would be absolutely amazing if they came into the shop. But, I would probably be a bit star struck to be fair.”

Aaron, who spent his entire childhood in the shop meeting musicians, playing with instruments and learning the trade, said he thinks the shop is so popular because of its “relaxed and fun” atmosphere.

Some of the amazing guitars at Modern Music

He said: “I’ve just turned 27, I’ve grown up in this shop, it’s all I’ve ever known really. It’s quite incredible to think that dad was about 25 years old when he opened the shop, I wasn’t even born, and now I’m officially a partner.

“I started working in the shop about ten years ago. I tried music at college and couldn’t really find anything that took my fancy – I think I had been spoiled by being able to grow up around all of this.

“I spoke to my dad and luckily he let me start here doing the guitar setups, it’s a big part of our business.

“I learnt everything I know from my dad.

“I think the earliest memory I have here was probably when I was about six. I used to come in here with dad and used to love playing on the electric drum kits we had.

“What I think people like about it is that it’s not a sterile environment, it’s really relaxed and fun, it’s become like a second home to me and I think to a lot of our customers as well.”

Aaron is now running the shop alongside his dad and the partners hope to remain in Truro for years to come.

“We are looking forward to the future, you never know what’s around the corner,” said Aaron.


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