Just looking at this picture of the door to our store, the entryway to all that great stuff that’s been exciting our customers and us for over fifty years; It brings back memories of instruments and events, and so importantly people in the industry, all of them so wonderful and so special, many of whom I haven't thought about or seen in years. All those stickers and decals that we added to the door, and added, and added, over the thirty-five years we were at that location, I hardly know where to begin.
Lessee now, at random: Right in the very middle is Fender. Despite knowing of my reputation, they wouldn’t give me the line forever due to being afraid of flak from the “big guys” on 48th Street, until I got a call one day from Larry Moudy, as fine a manufacturer’s rep as ever there was, that because of a call to Fender’s top top executive from Jimmy D’Aquisto (whose designs they were selling at the time), I was in. Fender and I got involved with so much together over time, one result of which was the growing, practically from scratch, of their Custom Shop. And Jimmy D'Aquisto? IMHO the most genius-Stradivarius-level guitar maker ever to live and work in America, and a very dear friend. And Martin! From CF Martin III (he ran the company from the 1930s to the 1980s) to his grandson Chris Martin IV to Danny Brown, that wonderful character who ran the Custom Shop and Dick Boak, who ran just about everything that no one else there could figure out how to run; they were all so great to work with and exchange ideas with. D’Addario, maker of all those strings, from Jimmy D’Addario on back to his father who had started it all in this country in the 1960s. And Bill Collings!!! The only person on Earth who ever saw what Martin had done and actually got a bit beyond them, and I was thrilled to put him in a prime spot here in NYC and especially to know and work with him on coming up with some models with unique combinations of features. NAMM shows! Four days of intense noisy insanity every year for more than forty years but mostly, for me, the opportunity to connect and re-connect and inter-connect with so many of those wonderful people who make our industry run. Gretsch..dang! I worked in their original factory in Brooklyn as a teenager and thirty years later worked with Mike Lewis of Fender to give the Gretsch line a boost via my store when Fender acquired the rights to do so. OME banjos; Tanya Ogsbury, whose dad Chuck had started the company under the name Ode in the ‘60s and which I longed for one of when I was in high school. Tanya later took over the company, brilliantly, and became a dear pal. PRS! Paul Reed Smith, the first and only person IMHO to ever make electric guitars of truly super-high quality that were not Fender or Gibson copies. Paul is a perfectionist and runs his company in Maryland like a beautiful machine and speaking of which, Ralph Perucci, my PRS rep, a true class guy, with style. And not to forget the two Dianes, Ponzio and Magagna. Diane Ponzio toured and performed on behalf of Martin, worldwide, and was a major presence in so many ways. Diane Magagna, with whom I’m still in touch, repped over the years for Gurian, Rickenbacker, and with great longevity for Taylor. There were very few women sales reps in our industry in those days and Diane was looked to by all in the biz as “Want to know how to do this job right? Look to Diane Magagna”. And a total sweetheart too. And Ernie Ball! Sterling, son of the immortal Ernie, were both movers and shakers. Larry Fishman, maker of so many zillions of pickups that went into guitars at the manufacturer's level and also sold after-market. Larry changed the world of guitar amplification forever. Originally a stand-up bass player looking for a way to plug in and boy, did he ever succeed. Seems like I could go on forever with all those wonderful people I got to know and work with over the years and decades. Gibson folks like Paul Jernigan, Don Ruffato, Robi Johns, Trish Moss. Bob Taylor of you-know-where, as fine a person as ever there was, anywhere. Seymour Duncan, gave us more choices of fine replacement pickups than you could shake a stick at but somehow, when we would meet up at NAMM shows, we'd only talk about our insanity over our hobbies, Seymour with his huge rock collection and me with the 1907 tugboat I was helping to restore. Want an unusual one? While the Dobro name had been taken over by Gibson, one of its originators, Rudy Dopyera of the Dopyera bothers (DO-pyera-BROs = DOBRO, get it?) came back years later with OMI, for Original Musical Instrument Co. and I met him and worked with them and carried their guitars. And what a fine person he was, originally from the "old country”, Slovakia. And of course Dave Olivier, Senior Sales Manager for Gary Castelluccio & Associates, who brings us so many cool electronic brands.
You know, I could go on with this stuff. I’ve got nearly sixty years of involvement with the guitars but most outstandingly the people involved with making and getting them out there, and we did so much work together exchanging ideas, suggestions, creating models and styles, many of which became iconic. But very few, if any of these people ever got direct credit for their efforts and thoughts. Next time you pick up your instrument, or fuzz box, or put on a new set of strings, remember that there were so many very fine folks behind all of this, and thank them for what they gave us.