'8-Track Fanatics' Keep Sales of '70s Tapes Going

Whatever Happened To...?

Over the crackle of the phone line, the clerk at a Boston used-record store said emphatically, "I know for a fact that we have the Village People on 8-track."

Captured in that single sentence is the essence of the 1970s.

Famous for their hit song "YMCA," the Village People were the epitome of a trend that came and went. But as they have regained popularity as a part of '70s lore, so too has the infamous 8-track tape player. Dennis MacDonald of Looney Tunes, a used-records store in Boston, says he occasionally sells 30 cartridges a day to "8-track fanatics."

Only one tiny Tennessee record company still puts out 8-tracks - otherwise, the tapes and players exist only in secondhand stores and moth-infested closets.

The 8-track was boosted by Ford Motor Company, which put a player in every car of its 1966 line. Sales peaked from 1970 to 1974, after which the 8-track was slowly replaced by the cassette. The 8-track boasted superior sound, but the paperback-sized cartridge was undone by its unwieldy size and tendency to break or malfunction if not properly maintained.

Former Beatle George Harrison's "Cloud Nine" album - considered one of the last major-label albums available on 8-track - was reportedly sold for $150 recently.

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