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This article was updated with comment from the team behind the @UnfinishedBid Twitter account.
How does a record label infamously known for its Nazi releases continue to not only stay relevant but to produce material?
Germany-based Rock-o-Rama Records has been listed as defunct since 1994 on several websites. Despite this, they continue to operate their own site and churn out releases—mostly in the form of reissues—as recently as April.
First, a little history.
Rock-o-Rama Records was founded by Herbert Egoldt, in 1978, as a brick-and-mortar record store with the intent of focusing on the punk and new wave genres. Prior to this, he had operated a mail-order company called BIG-H that sold American rockabilly bootlegs.
In 1980, Egoldt, using his physical store, entered the world of music production. Enter the now-infamous Rock-o-Rama Records label.
ROR’s first few years of producing consisted of music that was either apolitical or—surprisingly, considering their later history—left-leaning. Many of these earlier releases included those by Oi! bands. Oi!, a subgenre of UK-based punk, found its beginnings in the late 1970’s.
One of the label’s initial left-leaning offerings was their release of Finnish anarchist hardcore punk band Destrucktions’ debut album “Vox Populi” in 1983 that features a prominent circle-A made of rifles and ammunition on the cover.
With the release of “Hail The New Dawn,” the sophomore album by neo-nazi Ian Stewart’s band Skrewdriver in 1984, ROR cemented themselves as the premier record label for European bands that preached white power and, especially, those that were included in the “Rock Against Communism” phenomenon. That same year, the label released the debut album for Böhse Onkelz, a German far-right band, that was eventually indexed and banned by the German government. Being “indexed” meant the product was only available to be purchased by those over 18 years of age.
The label continued to regularly release neo-nazi and other far-right material through the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s via a plethora of sub-labels including White Power Records and Victory Records.
In 1993, they were raided by the German government.
In a New York Times article from Feb. 4, 1993, Ferdinand Protzman reported that “the German police began a sweeping crackdown on the country’s right-wing music scene today, raiding the homes, studios and record companies of producers and rock musicians suspected of fomenting racial hatred and violence and glorifying Nazism.”
“The focal point of the action today was Bruhl, a small town near Cologne, where Rock-O-Rama Records is based,” Protzman further reported. “Rock-O-Rama is suspected of being the world’s leading producer and distributor of right-wing and neo-nazi rock music. Most of the recordings seized were taken from the company’s office and represented the work of 28 right-wing bands.”
Egoldt closed the label the following year in 1994 and later died in 2005.
In May 2008, German-based news site Belltower News reported that the record label had been purchased by a company under the name “Rock-O-Rama Unlimited Ltd.” that was “based in Cardiff in Wales” and “whose representative is Willi Benz from Rees.”
Belltower News also reported that the company had taken over “the online mail order company ‘Rock Nord’ and its print magazine of the same name.” Both Rock Nord and its magazine were described as “the Bravo of the right-wing rock scene” that claimed to have a more-than-likely exaggerated circulation of 15,000 copies.
In an update to their article from July 2019, the news site wrote: “The Rock Nord mail order business no longer exists (‘Closed due to revision’), nor does the magazine. However, there is still a ‘Rock Nord Internet forum’ with a Facebook and Twitter page.”
Left Coast Right Watch could not find evidence of a social media presence for Rock Nord that still exists.
But the mainstream media and many online repositories of musical history have largely written-off ROR as a label of the past, no longer in existence.
Aside from a single buried sentence, the Wikipedia entry for ROR is written in the past tense and its abstract ends with “… Egoldt closed the label in 1994 under the threat of legal action from German authorities.”
Its Wiki page says “the label folded in 1994 after a police raid.”
According to a keyword search on their site, even the New York Times—which published opinion pieces and extensively reported on the German government’s early 1990’s crackdown on far-right music and ROR—hasn’t mentioned the record label since 1994.
As recently as 2018, the Financial Times erroneously reported, in an article ironically titled “The re-emergence of white supremacist pop,” that “most of the bigger labels such as Rock-O-Rama Records are now defunct.”
But ROR is far from “defunct.” Their website openly celebrated “45 years rebellion against the establishment” in 2022 and boasts that, since 1977, approximately 2.5 million records have been sold in a total of 47 countries.
They also advertise their presence on a single social media site: Gettr, which they joined in July last year.
ROR’s current online catalog—sold between two webstores in the U.S. and in Germany—is mostly filled with reissues of older releases and a sprinkling of newer music.
As an example, the U.S. ROR web store currently features a CD by German far-right skinhead band Endstufe and even a reissue of Skrewdriver’s 1981 “Boots and Braces” compilation at the top of its website.
Oddly enough, ROR’s German webstore includes bands that are explicitly antifascist and antiracist including Oi! bands Angelic Upstarts and The Oppressed.
Neither band was aware that their music was being sold through ROR.
“We are a well known Anti Nazi/Anti fascist band, the nazis/fash hate us, so no doubt they find it amusing to include [us] in their inventory,” Angelic Upstarts’ guitarist Neil “Newts” Newton told LCRW. “They’re not exactly the brightest of folk.”
Newts added that there isn’t anything the band’s members can do about who sells their music but that they would “contact [their publishing company] to see what action can be taken.”
The Oppressed’s response was simple.
“If the [thick] cunts sell our releases there’s nothing we can do about it,” The Oppressed said to LCRW, “but they must be really stupid to sell our stuff.”
A WAREHOUSE AND A GHOST
Both the German and U.S. ROR web stores’ legal pages list the Tualatin, Oregon address for a Shipito warehouse.
According to the company’s website, Shipito’s warehouses allow international customers to shop from online retailers such as eBay and Amazon—where shipments may be either absurdly expensive or simply restricted—have their items shipped to a Shipito warehouse, and then sent to the customer from there. They even offer an “Assisted Purchase program” for shopping help.
The process of having products stored until a bulk shipment to the destination country decreases the cost of international shipping and Shipito, taking advantage of certain states’ business incentives, has strategically placed its warehouses in states like Oregon.
While Shipito LLC is registered in Utah, the LLC’s registered agent is listed as “Capitol Corporate Services, INC.” of Salem, Oregon. The LLC is also, according to its business filing, a member of Global Access Group LLC, also based in Utah.
The company’s website highlights the three warehouse locations’ benefits. For Tualatin, Oregon, it’s the absence of sales tax; for Torrance, California, it’s low cost and speed; for Rastenfeld, Austria it’s fast service from Europe and possible same-day processing.
Shipito’s website does not provide a contact other than for support services. The company’s support staff unexplainably closed several “tickets” created by LCRW asking for comment in relation to their warehouse address being listed as a legal address for Rock-o-Rama Records. LCRW could not find an additional contact for Shipito LLC.
Above the warehouse address on the two ROR web stores’ legal pages is the name “Greg D. Gartland.” Garland is, apparently, ROR’s legal contact.
Gartland, for lack of a better term, is a ghost aside from a handful of punk reviews attributed to a “Greg Gartland” in Punk Planet during the 1990’s and a one-off mention by record collector and owner of now-defunct label Gloom Records, Nate Wilson, during an interview he gave with No Echo in May 2017.
LCRW reached out to Nate Wilson for comment and did not receive a response.
ROR’s online stores are run through Germany-based Gambio who’s website touts themselves as an “all-in-one ecommerce solution.”
It doesn’t take long for anyone reading Gambio’s terms and conditions to see that ROR’s usage of their services is in direct violation. As per the site, specifically 8.3 under “General rules for using the customer forum:”
“As the platform operator, Gambio GmbH cannot and will not check the legality of customer content in advance. Therefore, every customer is obliged not to post any illegal content in any form. On the one hand, this applies to everything that is relevant under criminal law, but on the other hand also to content that can only be prosecuted under civil law.”
Further, Gambio’s terms and conditions specifically state that:
“Content which, or whose content and/or direction, incites hatred against sections of the population or against a national, racial, religious or ethnic group, calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them or thereby attacks the human dignity and general personal rights of others that parts of the population or a aforementioned group are insulted, maliciously slandered or slandered.”
It should also be noted that ROR’s online store accepts payment, through Gambio, using four means: “bank transfer, PayPal, credit card, Paysafecard.”
Out of these four means, only one has truly made an effort in recent years to rid their clientele lists of neo-nazis and the far-right: PayPal. The U.S.-based online payment site has largely escalated their efforts to prohibit their usage by these groups but only in the years since the “Unite the Right” Rally in Charlottesville.
But don’t give them too much credit. PayPal only did so because they had been the site for fundraising that funded the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Expectedly, the secondhand market can be a wild west — even if there are “terms and conditions” involved.
For example, eBay has decently thorough terms and conditions. As part of their “offensive materials” policy, the California-based ecommerce site lists prohibited items for sale including:
“Items with racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise demeaning portrayals, for example through caricatures or other exaggerated features, including figurines, cartoons, housewares, historical advertisements, and golliwogs.
Any item that is anti-Semitic or any item from after 1933 that bears a swastika.
Media identified as Nazi propaganda.
Listings that imply or promote support of, membership in, or funding of a terrorist organization.”
eBay’s enforcement of such policy is, apparently, lackadaisical as a simple search of any of the above items will turn up a number of applicable results. A search for ROR releases will do just the same.
As a result, some Twitter bots will lift these sales items that are in violation and automatically post them onto the social media site, furthering its dissemination.
See comment from @UnfinishedBid’s creator below.
Twitter user @Systemaux, who runs the Rare Record Bay bot account, responded to LCRW’s request for comment after we initially published this article:
“@UnfinishedBid is an automated Twitter bot account which posts links to vinyl records on eBay. It tends to locate record listings which have a lot of interest on eBay, from many genres. There’s usually something unusual or notable about the records that get tweeted. To be honest I sometimes struggle to keep up with the output, as other bot authors may tell you. Still, I was horrified to discover that this account which I created had tweeted several records with extreme right-wing lyrics and fascist symbolism. I am very sorry about that. Thanks to Left Coast Right Watch I’ve become aware of this problem, and I’ve addressed it by deleting the offending tweets, and adding the name of the record label to a filter/block list.”@Systemaux, manager of the Rare Record Bay account.
On the contrary, Discogs—the Beaverton, Oregon-based user-generated online music database and international marketplace—is rather liberal with what they choose to prohibit for sale.
“Our policy is to block any releases from our marketplace that, through images and text on the release itself, are primarily created to incite violent hatred against groups of people based on areas such as their ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual identity, or with reference to physical or mental health,” the website says.
The database, though, is off-limits and the company “is committed to remaining an open discography of all viable audio recordings.”
Discogs’ Support Team referred LCRW to Vice President of Marketing Jeffrey Smith who did not respond for comment by press time.
Circumventing Discogs’ sales restrictions is not difficult.
Due to the site’s sales restriction on unofficial releases—i.e. bootlegs and counterfeits—groups have been formed on sites such as Facebook to facilitate those transactions that would, otherwise, be banned. While the vast majority of these restricted items are harmless, some neo-Nazi content does slip through—especially from ROR—due to virtually nonexistent moderating of sales posts.
“Some users try to use it for banned right wing groups,” an administrator for the Facebook group said to LCRW. “When those posts are seen or reported, they are removed.”
In some cases, there are groups formed specifically to facilitate the sale and purchase of this material. One way that groups selling this explicit material get around censors is by sneakily using other names and terms that directly, or indirectly, reference white supremacist or Nazi ideology.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
“Compared to the bad ol’ days, Rock-O-Rama has gotten pretty quiet over the years,” said antifascist activist and founder of One People’s Project Daryle Lamont Jenkins. “I can understand why people think the label is defunct, especially since all the other [white power] labels either seem to be or otherwise [are] dormant.”
The media’s inaccuracies have contributed to ROR’s success at remaining in business, let alone maintaining a cult following, just below the radar yet simultaneously continuing to be visible.
“We have alway had this problem where media outlets have been less than accurate when they report on fascist activities — if they report on them at all,” Jenkins told LCRW. “When they get something wrong, few correct them, not even the fascists themselves, possibly because they might expose things in doing so that they don’t mean to expose.”