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Davis, California

Friday, July 19, 2024

Longtime owner of Armadillo Music passes away

Music lovers in Davis know where in town to finger through a treasure trove of classic records. Offering a place to find music almost every day of the year is Armadillo Music at 205 F St.

But on Saturday, the music stopped playing and shop was empty for the day. Recognizing and honoring the passing of Mike Krell, the longtime owner of Armadillo Music, the store closed for the day.

“We closed the store to respect the man,” said Jordan Smart, assistant manager of Armadillo Music. “We wanted the employees to be part of the memorial. No question – this was a significant event.”

Those closest to Krell celebrated his life at The Palms Playhouse in Winters, where Krell’s favorite song, “She’s Not There” by The Zombies, could be heard.

Krell was 65 when he was struck down by heart complications June 23. He would have celebrated his 66th birthday this July.

The family has left funeral arrangements in the hands of Wiscombe’s Davis Funeral Chapel. According to a webpage dedicated to Krell, he leaves behind two daughters, Diana Krell of Oakland, Calif. and Athena Chapman of Davis, as well as his partner Cathleen Edmonds of Davis and his wife Helen Krell.

Before establishing Armadillo Music in 1996, Krell received his law degree from UC Berkeley. He practiced law and also served as court administrator for the County of Sacramento until he retired in 1993. Besides his legal work, Krell was also a businessman and was involved in Downtown Davis Business Association.

According to store manager Nicholas Glass, Krell was an able listener and willing to adjust to the economics of running an independent record store, including restocking Armadillo with vinyl.

“He adapted with the times,” Glass said. “Mike was very open to adopting [ideas] to get a good store. He was laidback but he really made good decisions.”

Owner of APEX Cycles Aaron Curtin was friends with Krell and had run into him as recently as a week-and-a-half before his sudden passing. He said that the news of Krell’s passing stunned him.

Curtin credited Krell for helping start his own business. He remembers the day Krell offered him an opportunity to advance his own life. At the time, Curtin was working as a barista at Café Roma. A frequent customer, Krell believed Curtin had potential to do more than just serve coffee.

“I was working at Roma and my son had just been born,” Curtin said. “[Krell] took me aside and said, ‘There’s something about you. You should not be working at Roma.’ He gave me an opportunity to work for him and I ran his learning center. He gave me experience to do more with my life. He gave me a platform to run my business.”

When he was not sharing his business acumen, Krell devoted time to his own business. Besides Armadillo Music, he also owned several properties within the city. However, Smart said that Krell especially loved the record store.

The fate of Armadillo Music will rest in the hands of Krell’s family. Smart said that the store’s management will meet with the Krell family within the next couple of weeks to contemplate the future of the store. However, he hopes to preserve the same store that Krell built.

“In my opinion, he probably would want the store to stay open,” Smart said. “Mike always said he wanted to be the last store in Davis to close. But we will go along with the wishes of the family.”


JACKSON YAN can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.


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