THE owners of one of Colchester’s most iconic retailers have bid a fond farewell to the town after 37 years serving musicians in the area.

Lou and Sue Moodie opened their first music shop in 1984 in Butt Road.

The couple were both musicians and say Magpie’s Nest (the name of the previous shop which they decided to keep) sold second-hand musical equipment.

Three years later and the couple took over a second shop, located nearby in Alexandra Road, and began selling new instruments and accessories under the new name of Music Warehouse.

Lou had quit his office job a year earlier and the couple began running both shops simultaneously, communicating between the two using CB radios.

Gazette: Sue and Lou Moodie inside Magpie's Nest in Butt RoadSue and Lou Moodie inside Magpie's Nest in Butt Road

It was in 1989 when Music Warehouse first moved to its famous home in St John’s Street, taking over a Grade II listed building which used to be a burger bar.

Lou said: “The shop expanded so much that in 1995 we bought next door.

“As the buildings were listed we couldn’t just join them together.”

Sue added: “We had doorways between the two buildings, but there were lots of separate rooms.

“Everybody liked the atmosphere in there because it was different to most shops.”

Over the years Music Warehouse has become something of an institution in Colchester.

Many residents of the town bought their first instruments at the store and continued to visit on a regular basis.

In fact, their first ever customer, resident Alan Sharp, returned before their closure to ensure he could be the shop’s last ever customer too.

Gazette: Sue Moodie, Alan Sharp and Lou MoodieSue Moodie, Alan Sharp and Lou Moodie

The stores have welcomed members of Blur, Status Quo and Scottish icons the Proclaimers over the years while McFly’s Dougie Poynter bought his first bass at Music Warehouse.

Lou and Sue were clearly doing something right as musical legend Jack Bruce, of Cream fame, made it his music store of choice.

Lou said: “Jack Bruce was a good friend and customer. We were two of 150 people invited to his funeral.”

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The business used to host regular Music Warehouse parties - gigs where customers’ bands would perform to other customers - as well as providing equipment for events in Castle Park and at some of the town’s most popular venues.

Sue said: “The thing with music is most people do not give it up.

“We had musicians coming in who are older than us and were playing in bands back when we were.

“Back when we were in Butt Road, schoolkids used to come in on their lunch break and sit on the floor and jam.

“That is what they liked about it, that atmosphere.”

Gazette: Lou Moodie, Jerry Elvin, Matt Blunderfield and Sue Moodie outside Music WarehouseLou Moodie, Jerry Elvin, Matt Blunderfield and Sue Moodie outside Music Warehouse

Music Warehouse closed for the final time last Saturday, a sad day for Lou, Sue, staff members Jerry Elvin and Matt Blunderfield ,as well as generations of musicians in Colchester and further afield.

Lou said: “Once people knew we were closing, we had so many people pop in and tell us they were sorry to see us leave.

“We would like to say thanks to all of the customers who have supported us over the years.

“Our motto was always we are a musicians’ shop, run by musicians for musicians.

“We gave out a lot of advice over the years and hopefully helped people.”

Sue added: “It has been a real privilege and we feel we have nurtured many young musicians in Colchester. We will always be grateful for our loyal customers who stuck by us.”

Lou added: “It has been a fantastic journey and we have enjoyed every minute.”