All jokes about Christmas miracles aside, the world’s first eight-track museum opened on Christmas afternoon. Owned and operated by 51-year-old James “Bucks” Burnett (formerly known as the editor of the Mr. Ed Fan Club newsletter and ex-manager of Tiny Tim), the appropriately named Eight Track Museum is now located in Dallas, Texas and will hold over 3,000 eight-, four- and two-track tapes in a 700 square-foot space. According to Pegasus News over 100 people attended the museum’s opening to peer at curios like the complete eight-track calalog of Led Zeppelin and an original shipping box of sealed Elvis Presley tapes.
The story of the eight-track tape is not a long one. It was introduced in the mid-60s as the first commercial, portable music format. However, by the late ’70s the format was passed on in favor of the smaller audio cassette tape. While time and technologies (CD, mp3) passed quickly, the eight-track has remained an artifact of note for its higher audio fidelity (in comparison to its descendant) and occasional collectibility (certain recordings are only available on 8-track).
The momentum to create a permanent home began to build last fall when the Barry Whistler gallery in Dallas hosted the Eight Track Tapes: The Bucks Burnett Collection exhibition. The relative popularity of that show convinced both Burnett and organizers of neighboring Denton’s 35 Conferette annual music conference that a longer-term space was viable. At the time Burnett told Pegasus News, “2010 marks the 45th anniversary of the eight track, and I hope to present these tapes, for the first time in Denton, as historical pop culture artifacts… The eight track existed as a viable music format for twenty-four years (1965-1989), and deserves a worthy representation.” 35 Conferette funded the construction of a temporary museum in Denton that ran for one month starting in March 2010.
Burnett continued to pursue a home for his eight-tracks. As he told the Wall Street Journal, “There are only two choices. A world with an eight-track museum and a world without an eight-track museum… I choose with.”
The current space is located in Dallas’ Deep Ellum Foundation building. The museum is currently open to the public by appointment and for special events. In its first year, Burnett will organize six exhibitions and four educational events. The first show will be Conceived in Cars: Birth of the Eight Track 1965, which focuses on the inception of the technology as a car-only format. Mid-60s car stereo decks and other period memorabilia will be included. The show will run through February 2011.
For more information, please visit the Eight Track Museum web site.