March 8, 1935 – Jan. 26, 2018
When Mack S. Luchey opened the first Doris Records store on Broadway in 1962, he always had a speaker outside.
“He and Doris would drive to New York City and bring back something that hadn’t been heard here yet,” said his son, Derrick, who helps manage the Buffalo record store. “It was when ‘Green Onions’ was popular. When people passed by and heard the new stuff, it would attract them in.”
Mr. Luchey remained active in Doris Records, now the oldest record store in Western New York, until he was injured in a fall in December 2016. He died in his Buffalo home last Friday. He was 82.
Born in McCormick, S.C., the second of five children, he came to Buffalo with his family at the age of 9 months. A graduate of Hutchinson Central High School, he studied engineering at the University of Buffalo.
“Between his junior and senior year, he realized engineering was not for him,” his son said. “He didn’t want to be stuck in a room. The entrepreneurial spirit already had been awakened in him when he was growing up.”
As a boy he delivered groceries in a little red wagon. He picked beans on a farm in the summer.
“I would outpick everybody, even the adults, because I liked earning money,” Mr. Luchey told Buffalo News reporter Emma Sapong in 2011. “My father taught me to work hard, pay your bills and save.”
He enlisted in the Army Reserve, was driving delivery trucks for UPS and working as a bartender in his father’s tavern on weekends when he met a clerk named Doris Banks on one of his visits to Audrey and Del’s, the city’s first African-American record store. They decided to start their own store after they got married.
“She knew about the business,” he told Sapong. “I love music, all sorts of music, and wanted to open the store. We made a lot of money when we started.”
After six months on Broadway, they opened their flagship store at 286 E. Ferry St., which is still in operation, followed by Doris Records Stores on William Street and Jefferson Avenue and a Mighty Mack record store in Central Park Plaza, which have closed.
Along with the latest releases, customers sought out the store for its large stock of hard-to-find jazz and gospel records. Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim, Ice Cube and Kool Moe Dee have come through its doors.
Rick James grew up in the apartment building next door and his mother ran a restaurant there.
In the 1960s, when hotels in the area refused to cater to black entertainers, the Lucheys took them into their home. One of their guests was Aretha Franklin, whom they met after a concert in 1967.
“She came over to the house, helped cook breakfast and told dirty jokes until 6 a.m.,” Mr. Luchey told Buffalo News reporter Deidre Williams in 2012.
Although Mr. Luchey and his wife divorced in 1975, they remained friends. She died in 1996.
“She got the house and I got the business,” he told an interviewer in 2003. “I kept her name out of respect, because she taught me the business.”
Doris Records survived through evolutions in musical styles from blues and R&B to hip-hop and from changes in formats from vinyl to tape to CDs and DVDs. In recent years, the store has added sportswear, handbags and other items.
Mr. Luchey was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003 and underwent radiation treatment at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was a founding member of Men Allied for the Need to Understand Prostate Cancer (MAN UP), a prostate cancer awareness advocacy group, and recorded a YouTube testimony about his treatment and recovery.
“On occasion a customer may come in, knowing that I am a survivor, and tell me that he has prostate cancer and ask for advice on what to expect, namely because he is scared,” he told an interviewer from Roswell Park in 2015. “Whenever this occurs, I always say, ‘piece of cake’, and invite him to my office for discussion. I really love doing this.”
He was among the founders of Buffalo’s Juneteenth Festival, served on its board of directors, and supported numerous community activities. He was a longtime member of First Shiloh Baptist Church.
He was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
Survivors also include two other sons, Gregory and Duane; three sisters, Willa Mae Brittin, Thelma Taggart and Chloe Luchey; and five grandchildren.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday Feb. 3 in First Shiloh Baptist Church, 15 Pine St.