Library of Congress May Acquire Important Country Music Collection

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The Library of Congress is courting unofficial country archivist and American original Leon Kagarise:

The tiny frame house is cluttered from floor to ceiling with a lifetime\'s leavings. Leon Kagarise buried treasure beneath his mounds of junk, guarding it with a collector\'s obsessive ardor. After 40 years, he finally has let the world in on his secret, a trove of American cultural history . . .

In a living room darkened by teetering towers of records, mounds of clothes and a tangle of wires, Kagarise has assembled a rickety shrine to his beloved country and bluegrass music. From the late 1950s through the mid-1960s, the electronics whiz privately recorded and photographed country stars at the top of their game. By the time he stopped, he had amassed 5,000 hours of music and nearly 1,000 color slides. Then he stowed it all away.

Now, as word of his cache makes its way from collectors to record companies to archivists, the suburban Baltimore retiree has become an unlikely legend. Record executives have made offers. The Library of Congress has come courting. What makes Kagarise\'s stockpile such an intoxicating prize, they all say, is more than its vast breadth and its near-pristine sound quality. It provides a front-row seat on a vanished world . . .

More from the San Francisco Chronicle. Too bad they\'ll never get Joe Bussard\'s collection.

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