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Johnny Angel gets Ginchy with new Brighton Heights shop

| Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

Jack Hunt has apparently never lacked for energy.

Better known as musician Johnny Angel, he made his first record at 15 with the Cordells on Steel Town Sound Records. He still performs with the Halos and other bands. He's also been a successful businessman and is part-owner of eight Atria restaurants, among others. And when he was younger, he was a boxer.

Now, he's opened a new business in Brighton Heights called Ginchy Stuff, which sells memorabilia he acquired during his performing career, that included countless tours.

“Ginchy is '50s slang and means cool or hip,” Hunt says. “The first time I ever heard it was on ‘77 Sunset Strip' when Kookie said, ‘She's ginchy.' Sandra Dee said it, too, in some of the beach movies.”

A serious collector, his memorabilia fills the attics of two private homes, storage units and the backroom at a friend's store, as well as the basement under his new store.

“Whenever I picked something up for my kids, such as the M.C. Hammer doll, I bought two, one for them and o ne for my collection,” Hunt says. He left the ones he bought for himself unopened in their original packaging.

Music is the most extensive part of the collection. Items for sale include recordings, of course, on 45s and 78s, as well as LPs. Concert and other promotional posters are strong on old rhythm-and-blues artists.

He's made his own framed collages, for which Hunt does his own matting and framing by hand. One of the most impressive is of the Beatles. Below an original “Meet The Beatles” poster, he's mounted three early and rare 45s by the Fab Four.

“The Beatles changed the whole way young people thought about music. I wasn't a big Beatles fan at first, but bought a lot because they were popular. I got into them more later,” he says. “I had all these great pressings on Tollie, an English label, VJ Records, a rhythm-and-blues-dominated label, and Swan Records, which bought VJ. When they went on to record for Capitol, they became megastars.”

Ginchy always meant more than music. Hunt's store is filled with Steelers and Pirates materials, too, including an original 1960 “Beat 'em Bucs” poster. It's in mint condition, except for being signed by one of the players.

There's even a Star Trek board game, still factory-sealed.

Hunt grew up in Manchester, but Brighton Heights has been his home for more than 40 years, although he's rented apartments in New York, Philadelphia and Detroit when he needed to for his career. He's long been an active member of the local chamber of commerce and leadership council. On a recent visit to his shop, friends and neighbors stopped in, while others honked their car horns while driving by.

“I started buying collectibles right from the start because I thought it would be fun,” he says. “Someday, I thought, I'll be able to open a museum or store.”

Mark Kanny is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 312-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

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