Craig Barritt/Getty Images Questlove
Questlove is hoping to track down the stranger who bought him a turntable and a handful of vinyls when he was a child, thus helping him start what is now his massive record collection.
The 49-year-old musician and DJ, born Ahmir Khalib Thompson, opened up about his encounter with the "kind woman" in a Facebook post on Saturday, sharing a note the stranger — whom he only know as "Ellie" — had written in 1976 after asking him what type of music he liked.
"The start of my record collection starts with this note," he began.
According to Questlove, he met the woman when he was 5 years old while waiting for his parents, who were performers at the time, to finish their set at a nightclub in Portland, Maine.
"Being the irresistible cat that I was, I talked an older woman named Ellie into buying me a stereo and a record collection," he recalled. "I truly didn’t think she was coming back the next day with my request. She asked me what did I like and I said 'records' she asked 'what type of records?' "
Lisa Lake/Getty Questlove
Questlove said he named several "songs of the day" that he liked, which included "Bad Blood" by Sedaka — because he "adapted to what was on the radio" — and "Dance With Me" by Rufus. He also told the woman he was a Jackson Five fan because that "was as common as oxygen."
"I knew talking to strangers was a no no but my instincts paid off. She started writing it down," The Roots drummer remembered.
Though Questlove "didn’t think anything was coming of this" at the time, Ellie returned to the nightclub the following night to present him with a turntable and three records.
"My parents were HEATED but she pleaded on my behalf 'please don’t have him get in trouble on my behalf!! He’s so cute of course I wanted to start his record collection!!!' " he recalled. "Whatever she pleaded saved my behind that night cause black parents don’t play w talking to strangers (wasn’t so lucky a year later when I asked a stranger to play 'Brick House' on the jukebox at the local corner store)."
Questlove went on to ask fans if they had any idea of whom the mysterious woman could be.
"But on the off chance someone in Portland Maine knows of a kind woman who in 1976 randomly purchased a turntable & 3 records for this lil black kid w an afro the size of Texas named Ellie.... I’d like to know," he wrote, alongside the hashtag "Where Is Ellie?"
In his 2015 memoir Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According To Questlove, the star said his family had "maybe five thousand vinyl LPs" when he was a child — much of the collection he inherited when he became an adult.
"We had more records than I knew what to do with, and either the radio or the TV was always on, playing music," Questlove wrote of his childhood home. "It was soul and it was rock, and I guess some of it was proto-disco (from the Greek protos, meaning first, signifying the earliest or most primitive form — so it wasn't disco yet but it was getting there)."
In the book, he also credited his father, late doo-wop singer Lee Andrews, for getting him hooked on record-collecting.
"My father took everything that interested him, from rock to soul to folk to country," Questlove wrote. "If he liked it, he liked it."