Published on April 24th, 2013

johnokeefe600x239John O’Keefe isn’t just the owner of Top Five Records on J Street, he is the unofficial vinyl king of Palm Beach County. Back in 2009, he opened the highly respected record shop with his own collection of a staggering 50,000 records.

It’s no surprise that he first fell in love with vinyl at the ripe age of 11. All it took was hearing some records on the radio that caught his ear; he went out and bought them and the rest is legendary. Even in the 1990s when vinyl was presumed dead and labels weren’t doing pressings, he was a loyal vinyl guy. With such a massive collection, John still has his favorites. He’s partial to the psychedelic era of the 1960s, labeling The 13th Floor Elevators “Psychedelic Sounds” and The Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction” as favorites.

So what is it that sets Top Five Records apart from the others? How has John’s lifelong adoration for vinyl translated to a storefront? In his own words “I have the finest examples of classic rock and roll in the country. Everything is in pristine condition, that’s my whole deal. My records are perfect. They are used, but they are perfect.”

He opened with his personal collection, but John is building his stock daily with purchases from other record collectors—but only the finest make it onto the shelves of his primo Lake Worth location. A resident of Lake Worth as well as a business owner, John has seen peaks and valleys in the city’s music and arts scene, but sees it on a real upsurge right now. The shop is sandwiched between the brand new Coastar’s Coffee Bar and Propaganda, there’s a new art gallery across the street, next door to the Bamboo Room. J Street is officially a bustling little spot.

Stepping things up a notch was the recent Lake Worth Vinyl Project featuring photos by Dave Earley & Lauren Vocino of participants with their most beloved record. The pictures are now proudly on display at Top Five, much to the liking of John who said “I thought the idea was fantastic and the pictures are now up permanently.”

The latest revival of vinyl fans has produced an entire new group of consumers that John wasn’t expecting. He approaches the new age collectors with a bit of a “You kids get off my lawn!” but is constantly surprise by the depth of their rock knowledge. At the same time, John says “I think every teenager got a record player for Christmas last year.” With Record Store Day right around the corner, Top Five Records is looked to by many in the area as a must-stop. “The tradition we have is I feed and drink everybody” said John who is a little shaky about what this year’s activities will entail. Years past saw Lake Worth musician John Ralston lending a hand and booking as many as 20 performers in store. This year, we aren’t sure yet whether Ralston will be able to bring the goods, time will tell.

All is not lost however if the performances don’t go through, John is going to put out 100s of unbelievable records that he has been stockpiling since December. He plans to pull out all the stops and promises customers are going to find treasures they have probably never seen before. We have no doubt Top 5 Records will deliver a Record Store Day worth spinning again and again.

Top Five Records, 10 South J Street, Lake Worth ~ Dana Krangel