Rasputin Music

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Rasputin Music in Berkeley

Rasputin Music is the largest independent chain of record stores in the extended San Francisco Bay Area, California named after 19th century Russian religious figure Grigori Rasputin. The store was founded as "Rasputin Records" in 1971 in Berkeley, California by Berkeley entrepreneur, Ken Sarachan.

There are currently eight operating locations around the Bay Area: the flagship Berkeley store at 2401 Telegraph Avenue, 2 in San Francisco, Mountain View, Campbell,[1] Pleasant Hill, San Lorenzo, and Fairfield. There are also two locations in the Central Valley cities of Stockton and Fresno.


The original Rasputin Music store was located on Telegraph Avenue in the space currently occupied by Blondie's Pizza, which is also owned by Ken Sarachan. Rasputin moved across the street into a larger space when Odyssey Records went out of business. In the late 1970s it split into two separate locations, with one store specializing in rock music and the other in soul, jazz and other music genres. In July 1982, a suspicious fire at next-door Steve the Greek's restaurant destroyed the soul and jazz store. Rasputin's Berkeley operation was then consolidated into a single location. It currently operates at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Channing Way.

Although in recent years its prices have become more commensurate with those of other music stores, Rasputin was known for offering low prices on new and used CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records compared to other Berkeley music stores like Leopold and Tower Records. Its selection of new vinyl is unusually rich, as is its selection of used CDs and DVDs.

Rasputin occasionally features in-store performances by top musicians and bands. Metallica made its first in-store appearance in almost a decade at the Rasputin Mountain View store as part of the April 19, 2008 "Record Store Day".[2]

Rasputin published an in-house magazine and web site, the Rasputin Manifesto, with reviews of mainstream and independent music and DVDs. Its web location is no longer reachable.

On February 4, 2008, the Newark location closed due to redevelopment of the shopping complex in which it was located.[3]

Ken Sarachan Properties On Telegraph Avenue[edit]

Ken Sarachan owns several properties on Telegraph Avenue, and is considered a controversial figure in Berkeley because of the apparent neglect with which they have been treated. His other businesses and properties include Blondie’s Pizza; the vacant Cody’s Books building; the shopping mall at 2350 Telegraph; 2503 and 2509 Haste; and an empty lot 2501 Haste Street.

The empty lot at 2501 Haste has been vacant for over 25 years and the subject of innumerable blight complaints despite incentives offered by the City of Berkeley. Incentives offered have included waiving $640,000 in liens and interest if Sarachan builds stores and affordable housing.[4] In January 2012, the City of Berkeley sued Sarachan over the property.[5]

New projects were proposed for the Cody's site in 2013[6] and for 2501 Haste in 2012.[7] As of February 2014, no building has taken place on either lot.

Acquisition of former Tower Records locations[edit]

Rasputin acquired the leases of four former Tower Records locations: Concord (where the Pleasant Hill store was relocated), Mountain View, Fresno and Stockton. The Concord store, despite having been under Rasputin's management since 2007, still bears the Tower Records signage (with no mention of Rasputin) as of July 2013. As of September 2010 there is a poster displayed in the window of this location stating that the Tower Records sign is a "Historical Anomaly."

The Mountain View store at San Antonio Road and El Camino Real was closed at the end of 2011 and reopened about two weeks later about a mile southeast on El Camino Real.


  1. ^ Dennis Taylor (1997-01-03). "Rasputin Music is hoping for sweet sound of success". Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  2. ^ Ed Christman. "Metallica In-Store Set For 'Record Store Day'". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  3. ^ Todd R Brown (2008-02-29). "Iconic music store shuttered in Newark". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 2008-10-18. [dead link]
  4. ^ Fran Dinkenspiel. "Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue, Hit by Hard Times, Needs a Makeover". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  5. ^ Frances Dinkenspiel. "Berkeley files suit against owner of blighted Telegraph lot". Berkeleyside. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  6. ^ Emilie Raguso. "Mad Monk Center to rise on Telegraph". Berkeleyside. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  7. ^ Tracey Taylor. "Telegraph Ave property owner shows plans for vacant site". Berkeleyside. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 

External links[edit]