Publication:

The News (New Glasgow) - 2021-11-25

Data:

‘For the crib’

Front Page

STEPHEN COOKE SALTWIRE NETWORK scooke@herald.ca @NS_scooke

Basketball great LeBron James is the proud owner of a sleek-looking piece of Nova Scotian industrial history with his recent purchase of a vintage Clairtone console stereo. The star L.A. Lakers forward announced his new acquisition on Twitter this week “for the crib” in Beverly Hills, while also issuing a plea for anyone in the city who could restore the 55-year-old Pictou County-built stereo back to its original, state-of-the-art — for 1966 — sound. Lured from Ontario to a new plant in Stellarton in the mid-1960s in a deal concocted by Nova Scotia businessman Frank Sobey and the provincial government, Clairtone’s space-age stereos already had some celebrity cachet for their modern design and superior sound — still cherished by collectors today — with endorsements from Frank Sinatra and Oscar Peterson. James’s new acquisition is a Clairtone Project G2 model, with modular turntable, receiver and record rack plus globe-shaped “sound spheres” to project the music. Sharpeyed movie lovers can spot similar models in the 1967 counter-culture classic The Graduate, and the Sinatra romantic comedy Marriage on the Rocks. Offers to repair the b-ball player’s new record player came flooding in via Twitter, with multiple recommendations of Los Angeles-area shops that specialize in vintage audio gear. More than a few said they’d be delighted to make a house call and get the stereo back up to speed in an hour or two. One of the most legit replies came from Monreal based writer D.C. Hillier, creator of the Mid-Century Modern (MCM) Daily website and a Clairtone collector and restorer (with the Clairtone.ca website). He identified James’s new console as a first-generation G2 designed by Clairtone engineer Al Faux with company co-founder David Gilmour (not to be confused with the Pink Floyd guitarist of the same name), and designer Tony Mann, who would go on to teach at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and co-found the Ecology Action Centre, among many other achievements. Hillier offered to help restore the new-to-James unit, but there have been other offers of help closer to home than Montreal, like California-based Twitter user @JakeAndHoops who bills himself as both a big sports fan and a Clairtone stereo specialist, which is a happy coincidence. Oddly enough, even though Clairtone closed its doors in 1972, the company has been in the news again in recent years following the sale of its former Stellarton plant to a cannabis production company in 2014. After its 2019 re-opening as Zenabis, the plant will again be shutting down, following its purchase by Canadian cannabis company Hexo Corp., in February, 2022.

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