June 1968: University of Minnesota students Dan Foley and Ron Korsh opened the Electric Fetus at 521 Cedar Av. S. on Minneapolis’ West Bank. They had no experience in running a store, but rent was only about $18 per month. They used Foley’s student loan of $5,000 as start-up money for record albums, posters and smoking paraphenalia.
February 1969: Korsh and Foley faced misdemeanor indecency charges for displaying a poster in their store window with an illustration of then President Richard Nixon and his wife, Pat, standing together nude, just like John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the “Two Virgins” album cover. Local media picked up on the story, charges were dropped and the poster became a hot seller.
April 1970: New co-owner Keith Covart was arrested for putting up a stars-and-stripes flag with a peace symbol where the 50 stars usually are. He went to trial for desecration of Old Glory, and he prevailed because the court ruled that it wasn’t officially an American flag.
1970: The Fetus moved across the street to 514 Cedar Av. S.
March 1972: The Fetus ran its infamous naked sale: Take your clothes off in the store and get a free LP and smoking pipe. About 50 people took advantage of the promotion, which caused controversy with the store’s landlord.
June 1972: The store relocated to 2010 4th Av. S., in the same building as a printing company and hardware store.
1981: The Fetus started a “One Stop Division,” selling albums wholesale to other record stores. That operation shut down in 2011.
1987: Electric Fetus opened stores on the same day in Duluth and St. Cloud (the latter closed in 2014).
1995: The Minneapolis store expanded, taking over the entire building.
June 13, 2008: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak declared it Electric Fetus Day in honor of its 40th anniversary.
Aug. 19, 2009: A tornado caused extensive damage to the Fetus.
2010: Ringo Starr wore an Electric Fetus T-shirt to the Grammys, which was visible when he presented an award. The tee was given to him by a nephew who was living in Minneapolis at the time.
April 16, 2016: Prince, a sometimes Fetus customer, shopped on Record Store Day, buying CDs by his heroes Santana (“IV”), Joni Mitchell (“Hejira”) and Stevie Wonder (“Talking Book”) plus anthologies by rockers Missing Persons and gospel pioneers the Swan Silvertones. Prince died five days later.
May 2018: Minneapolis Musical Theatre took to the Fetus to stage “High Fidelity,” a play about record-store clerks based on the Nick Hornsby novel and the 2000 John Cusack-Jack Black film.