Rooftop Concert at Virgin Store


The busy San Francisco corner of Stockton and Market streets was a little noisier than usual yesterday.

Amid the rumbling buses, pounding jackhammers, wailing sirens and screeching brakes came the sound of amplified music echoing from some unseen place.

It was drifting off the roof of the new Virgin Megastore, where a passel of musicians — Cyndi Lauper, Jill Sobule, Rosie Gaines and the Beggars among them — were on hand to hype the store’s opening.

Billed by the company as the biggest record and video store in the country — 53,000 square feet — the three-story entertainment emporium is the latest in Virgin’s 60-store worldwide chain.

The store, which has 125,000 CD and cassette titles, 2,000 CD-ROMs, 15,000 video titles, a small bookstore, a cafe and 500 listening posts, actually opened Saturday.

But yesterday was the “grand” opening, with Lauper, her short-cropped hair the color of a canary and the texture of cotton candy, starring in a ribbon-cutting routine witnessed by a couple of hundred fans and passers-by crowded around the corner.

Lauper, dandy in blue-and-green checked peddle pushers, shiny black cowboy shirt with red fringe, green ’40s-style open-toed heels and blue toenails, wielded a giant pair of fake gold scissors while a Virgin official did the actual snipping. He made a remark that was drowned out by traffic. Lauper said something like, “Music, music, music! Shout, shout shout!” then was hus tled away by a pack of bodyguards and guys with walkie-talkies.

“Yeah, this is my first roof gig,” she said as she disappeared into a side door.

“Beach Blanket Babylon” star Val Diamond was also a roof virgin. “I hope we don’t have to climb up there on scaffolding,” she said with a smile.

Yesterday’s scene was a far cry from the famous Beatles performance on the roof of Apple Records in London in the late ’60s. The south side of Ellis Street between Powell and Stockton was blocked off to traffic to make room for spectators, but it was empty. You couldn’t see the performers on the roof anyway.

People poured through the store and milled around outside, where the roof action was broadcast on TV monitors and speakers. Around 1 p.m., writer Jessica (Decca) Mitford sang the Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” to kazoo accompaniment by the Dectones.

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