The former bassist and music store owner talks about the heyday of live music in Florida

ORLANDO, Florida. – On December 26, 1963, The Beatles released their first US release of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, and it skyrocketed to No. 1 on the US charts just 5 weeks later.

“I love, so many people, were inspired by the Beatles,” said Jim Ownby, who at the time was a music-loving teenager. “I heard this song and started growing my hair out.”

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It even caused him some trouble.

“My physical education coach made me wear a ponytail in front of my head because my hair was too long,” Ownby said. “It didn’t bother me. In fact, I think it bothered him more than it bothered me.

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Ownby started his first band at age 14 with friends in Ft. Pierce with Ownby playing bass and singing. The band finally got their first gig at a teen party at a club. It was the first time they had performed on stage in front of an audience.

At the age of 15, the group found themselves on the road to Coconut Grove for an even greater opportunity. The Hunn’s were going to open for John Sebastian’s band, before he founded Lovin’ Spoonful, in front of 2,000 people.

“I had a dose of ‘real fear.’ You think it’s nothing until you all go out there and see all these people,” Ownby said.

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It wasn’t playing with his band that made him nervous, though.

“My knees were wobbly and I thought I was going to fall introducing John Sebastian’s band to the crowd,” Ownby said with a chuckle.

Bassist Jim Ownby in the 70s (wkmg)

From there, Ownby continued to play in a few road bands – moving from Daytona Beach to Orlando, playing Rock and Roll and Blues hits. It was then that he found a new vocation.

“My goal was to be a rock star, but it didn’t work out,” Ownby said. “The reason I considered opening a music store was because I knew so many musicians in the area who had to travel to Orlando to buy almost anything, there was just no local music stores.”

In 1974, Ownby opened Coastal Discount Music Store at the south end of Beach Street in Daytona Beach. He and his wife at the time ran the store during the day and Ownby still played in bands at night. The store was the place to go for some guitar work and gear rental.

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Jim Ownby opened Coastal Discount Music in 1974 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (wkmg)

Spring Break was a big time in Daytona Beach in the 70s and early 80s. Every bar on Main Street had live bands and if they needed something, Coastal Discount Music was there to supply it.

“Daytona Beach was a music hub in the ’70s and bands from all over the country came to perform and often passed by the store because it was one of the only ones in the area,” Ownby said.

Local newspaper article written about Coastal Discount Music and its owner Jim Ownby aka Jimmy Ownby in the late 70’s. (wkmg)

Meeting bands like Lynard Skynard, Molly Hatchet and the Allman Brothers when they came over for little things here and there. Ownby even became friends with Neil Giraldo, an incredible guitarist who later married Pat Benatar.

One of Ownby’s fondest musical memories is the night Niel Geraldo and drummer Jeff Servera took him to play bass at a jam session.

“We played for 45 minutes and Neil blew them away,” Ownby said. “Talk about feeding the public. People heard him from the beach and came out of the beach to hear him play and he just tore the house down. It was truly the highlight of my musical career.

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Coastal Discount Music moved to the west end of Main Street in Daytona Beach and flourished until 1981, when the disco era pulled a lot of live music out of clubs and bars and replaced it with vinyl.

Deejay bands were more reserved than bands and that’s when the need for Ownby’s music store became less relevant.

“I was really sad to see this change happen. Not just for my business, but the feeling you had walking down Main Street Daytona Beach just changed,” Ownby said. when he hears live music and the interaction you get from the band and the audience is not something you get as much when listening to recorded music. nothing like the feeling that live music gives you.


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Alice P. Darby