Collinsville residents know Bill Cherry as an Elvis tribute artist who travels all over the world performing rock 'n' roll hits from the '50s, '60s and '70s.
But now the hometown boy with long black sideburns and a bright white smile is adding "shop owner" to his repertoire.
Cherry recently opened Monster Vinyl, a record store that combines his love of music and monsters. Racks are filled with albums, CDs, cassettes and eight-tracks. Shelves are lined with vintage toys, dolls, action figures and other collectibles, many related to sci-fi and horror films.
"It's like my bedroom, open to the public, without the bed," Cherry said, laughing.
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He and his childhood friend, Scott Wallace, have been talking about opening a place like this for years, and with vinyl making a comeback, it seemed like the perfect time.
Cherry also is building a recording studio, called Howling Studios, next door with help from local musician and songwriter Nate Johnson. The idea is to keep metro-east singers and bands from having to drive to St. Louis.
"I think there's only a couple of operating studios within 25 miles of here," Johnson said. "I own all the equipment. It seems a shame not to use it."
Monster Vinyl occupies a brick storefront at 107 E. Main St., the former home of Johnny's Sidebar. Cherry designed the eye-catching sign with Frankenstein peering over it.
Inside, customers are greeted by a creepy butler statue holding a silver tray. Looking up, they see posters of horror-film greats such as Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. The cash register sits on a glass case of monster masks that used to be in Cherry's home.
"I didn't know anything about all of this until I met Bill," said his fiance, Sydney Mason, who helps run the shop. "But I thought it was kind of interesting and cool."
Monster Vinyl buys, sells and trades music and other items, so the inventory is constantly changing.
There are an estimated 12,000 pre-owned albums in stock, including heavy metal, classic rock, disco, country, jazz, blues and other genres. Most are priced at $5.
"I'm actually a fan of all types of music," Cherry said. "A lot of people think because I'm a tribute artist, all I like is Elvis, but that's not true."
Steve Ritter, who owns Jim's Pawn and Jewelry two doors down, has bought albums by Jimmy Buffet, Sammy Hagar, Ted Nugent and Charlie Daniels.
"I like it," he said of the new store. "There's a lot of good vintage stuff, and it's not an empty building. Empty buildings aren't good for business."
Decor at Monster Vinyl includes two old jukeboxes. A back corner is dominated by a giant "Grease" movie poster and a pair of golden arches from a McDonald's restaurant.
Smaller collectibles range from a vintage Ozzy Osbourne concert shirt to a rare set of KISS dolls. There are tour books for Van Halen, Journey and The Police, a ticket from a 1966 Beatles concert at Busch Stadium and a Wolfie doll autographed by Butch Patrick of Eddie Munster fame.
Tiffany Derham already has become a regular customer.
"I'm looking for 'Alice in Wonderland,'" she said. "I love anything 'Alice in Wonderland.' And I'm looking for Pennywise stuff for my sister."
Cherry's favorite item is probably a set of Universal Studios Monster Soakies bottles that held bubble bath in the 1960s. They're patterned after The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein.
Cherry has been portraying Elvis since 1989 and working full-time as a tribute artist since 2009, when he won the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest at Graceland in Memphis and began touring with its official band.
Today, Cherry performs about two weekends a month, mostly at Elvis festivals and competitions across the United States. He also has traveled to Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, England, Italy and Singapore and entertained on cruise ships.
"I've even been to the Middle East," he said. "I was recently in Qatar. They've started an Elvis Presley fan club there. Isn't that amazing? The power of Elvis. His music is like an international language."
Cherry couldn't resist throwing in a stage joke about how his life has changed in the past 10 years.
"It's a long way from being a welder at a steel mill," he said. "The closest I get to a flame is 'Burning Love.'"
Cherry presents an annual concert for metro-east residents. This year, it will be July 14 at The Falls Reception and Conference Center in Columbia.
Monster Vinyl opened April 13, which was Friday the 13th, with guest appearances by Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 618-772-7213.