How a "priceless" letter from the Pet Shop Boys ended up in an Altrincham record store

The Pet Shop Boys

In a record store in Altrincham, a letter from Pet Shop Boys star Neil Tennant thanking Janice Long of Radio 1 for playing the group's debut single in 1984 was found.

Trevor Morris, the owner of the shop, purchased the 12-inch West End Girls record as part of a job lot of vinyl at an auction, and the note was tucked inside the record's sleeve.

He explains to the BBC that "they mustn't have checked it to see what was inside.".

"My guess is that they believed it to be a typical Pet Shop Boys song. ".

He contacted the auction house to inquire about whether they had accidentally sold the memorabilia, but they insisted he keep it.

They simply said, "What a great find for you!" he chuckles.

Neil Tennant's letter to Janice Long
Janice Long's letter from Neil Tennant.

The typewritten letter is dated April 12, 1984, which is three days after the premiere of West End Girls.

Tennant, who was still employed by Smash Hits magazine as a journalist, thanks Long for her support and gives some background information about the band that he and musician Chris Lowe founded.

When the then-29-year-old was working on a feature on The Police in New York last summer, she writes, "I met the disco producer Bobby 'O' there.".

"When Bobby heard the songs Chris Lowe and I had written together on a cassette, he immediately suggested we record with him. We've finished recording the first half of the album and will return to New York soon to complete it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the twelve that I've enclosed, and thanks for playing West End Girls on Thursday. You are now officially a Pet Shop Girl, in my opinion.

Neil Tennant at Smash Hits
Neil Tennant attempted to launch Pet Shop Boys while working as an editor at Smash Hits.

This early iteration of West End Girls was a significant false start for the Pet Shop Boys, so the discovery is significant.

The duo was fired by their record label, Epic, after the song stagnated at position 133 in the UK charts.

However, Parlophone bought them when the song began to become popular in European nightclubs and had the song redone with new lyrics and production by Stephen Hague.

A flawless run of hits, including Rent, Left To My Own Devices, It's A Sin, and Being Boring, began in 1986 when the revised version reached number one in the US and UK.

The Guardian dubbed West End Girls the best number one of the 1980s in 2020.

David "Kid" Jensen, Gary Crowley, and Janice Long, who sadly passed away two years ago, are among the DJs Tennant recalls writing to express gratitude for supporting the original mix.

"They all played it on their radio shows, which was exciting for us even though the song didn't even reach the Top 100," a listener said. He tells the BBC, "It was a start.

"While the Bobby 'O' album was never completed, we did record songs with him, such as It's A Sin, Rent, and Opportunities.

"Chris and I always enjoyed seeing Janice, who continued to be a warm PSB supporter. Sadly, that was the last time we saw her after she interviewed us for her BBC Wales program in 2020.

She is an honorary Pet Shop Girl, which makes me very happy.

Janice Long
Throughout the 1980s, Janice Long hosted the early evening new music program and the review program Singled Out on Radio 1.

The first pressing of West End Girls can sell for up to £200 in mint condition, but Trevor Morris recently sold his copy, which included Tennant's letter, for just £40.

I'm not so sure it's an invaluable collector's item, he says. "I think it's probably worth tuppence ha'penny to someone who loves the Pet Shop Boys, but priceless to someone else,".

"You know, the purpose of this shop isn't for it to generate a ton of revenue. Sharing music with others is the main goal. ".

Morris only recently opened his store, Dead Cloud Records, three weeks ago, using the proceeds from the sale of his former company, which specialized in senior care.

Although caring for people is very rewarding, he added, "I've always wanted to work in music, and the quickest way to do that is through a record store. ".

Trevor Morris, owner of Dead Cloud Records in Altrincham
This month, Trevor Morris opened his used record store in Altrincham's Oxford Street.

When he discovered the record, local journalist David Prior, who was covering the store's opening for the website Altrincham Today, offered Morris a prize.

I immediately realized what a piece of pop memorabilia this was because I've always been a fan of Pet Shop Boys, the man claims.

David Prior with his copy of West End Firls
David Prior, a journalist, displays his inexpensive PSB collectible.

The story of a music journalist starting a pop career and hustling to release his new work into the world is at its core.

"I had to have this at that very moment, I told myself.

"I couldn't believe it was that affordable. I was willing to spend several times that amount!

As soon as possible, Prior says, the letter will be put on display "in as prominent a place in my house as I can find."

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