A well-loved former record store owner was found dead in his shop following a suspected heart attack.
Emotional tributes have been paid to Ian Wallace after his sudden death on Friday, January 15, aged 64.
The owner of Big Sparra Vinyl was discovered in the Ayr’s New Bridge Street store which he was planning on transforming into a gift shop after the end of the Ayr record revolution 2019.
The alarm was raised after Ian had not returned home to his flat above the shop where he stayed with his partner of 15 years, Jena Thompson.
Business partner Robert (Sanchez) McCain collaborated with Ian by setting up the Ayr store and its sister shops in Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire and Glasgow.
He told the Ayrshire Post: “Ian lived above the shop where sadly he was found. The post mortem hasn’t happened yet but it is assumed he had a heart attack – he hadn’t been in good health for some time, he was working in the shop which he was going to turn into a gift shop.”
Robert joked: “Ian was that much of a dramatic guy I was so shocked to hear it wasn’t a police shoot-out that killed him, it was a quiet bow out.”
Robert was lucky to see his friend for the last time just before the coronavirus restrictions came into force. Now running a coffee business, he was able to pay his pal a visit when was trying to set up a market in the Grain Exchange.
Robert added: ”I got to see him just before Christmas. My last message on Messenger was just 14 hours before he died and we were talking about having a jam on the guitars.”
Ian and Robert met 10 years ago and began working together, opening a total of three record shops under the Big Sparra name.
Ian was a proud dad-of-one to daughter Sonya, 38, who is now a doctor.
Originally from Drumchapel, Glasgow, he moved down to Troon and then Ayr to run Big Sparra Vinyl from 2012 onwards.
During that time, the shop grew in popularity with its last Record Store Day celebrations in 2019 seeing 200 record vinyl lovers queuing along the streets.
The tiny shop also hosted a 12-piece group of talented musicians dressed as garden gnomes on one of its many eventful days.
Ian also mixed it with rock royalty as he spent time on a world tour with Metallica taking care of their merchandise during the 1980s.
Robert said: ”He was a drummer until his health changed which left him with a condition where he was unable to play.
“He even had two records out when he was younger. One day he bought some records and was listening to one of the singles and recognised it was him. He genuinely did not waste a second of his life.”
Ian had a varied taste in music but never shied away from his true passion of harder rock and metal.
Robert added: “He was the best salesperson, he made a recommendation to you and called it the ‘lost puppy’ technique; he would tell you go and listen to a record and if you don’t like it you can bring it back, but you would never bring it back, you’d take it home and love it.”
Ian made a huge contribution to the Ayrshire music scene Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai MacDowall had his single ‘Cry’ sold in Big Sparra Vinyl in 2019 with Ian backing the hit.
He told the Ayrshire Post: “When we put a single out in the shop we went out and spoke to him and he was a really nice guy.”