Roy Imber, Owner of Record World Music Retail Chain, Dies at 87

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Record World storefront during Bee Gees In Store Appearance at Record World on Nov. 21, 1976 in Roosevelt Field, New York. 

Roy Imber, the owner of the Record World music retail chain, died on Monday. He was 87.   

Imber founded Record World in 1959 and built an East Coast music retail empire with about 100 stores from Florida up into New England. That also included running the Square Circle music departments inside Times Square Stores, whose bankruptcy in 1989 forced Imber to sell Record World in 1992 to The Wall -- a record store chain operated by British retail operation W. H. Smith.   

Imber was record store royalty. Back in the day when indie music stores were being built into regional and then national record store chains, Record World was among those vying for national status. According to a story by then-Billboard retail editor Geoff Mayfield in the magazine's Oct. 18, 1986, issue, Imber's father, Jack, founded the company known as Elroy Enterprises, which was the corporate name for the Record World chain; while his uncle Sam Goody started the Sam Goody chain, which was subsequently sold to the Musicland Group and became a nationwide chain with about 1,000 stores. Beyond his own chain, Imber, who was born Sept. 11, 1931, became an industry leader serving in 1986 as the president, of the U.S. music retail trade group the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), now known as the Music Business Association.   

Mayfield remembered the former retail executive in a public comment on Imber's Facebook page. "Even before he knew how to pronounce my name, Record World founder and CEO Roy Imber always made me feel welcome with his wonderful smile and outgoing nature," Mayfield wrote. "Whether at a NARM event or one of Record World's functions, it was always a pleasure to see him, while the company he built provided me with valuable insights and friendships. And, not for nothing, of all the retail chiefs I've known, he was the best dancer."

Both of Imber's sons, Mitch and Bruce, worked for the Record World chain and were well known retail executives. Mitch eventually moved over to the record label sales side, working at the PolyGram organization before joining Warner Music Group's WEA, where he is an executive vice president.  

Imber is survived by his sons, Bruce and Mitch, and daughter, Susan, their wives and partners and children.