Kentucky

Kevin Cranley grew up in the music industry and has a passion for all elements of the music business, as if it were in his blood.  As a young man he completed odd jobs around the Willis Music store and helped his father with the publishing side of the business.  Years later Kevin took over the...
Jack Shallat was a professional violin player who landed several gigs with traveling bands in the 1930s and 40s.  During that time he met Buddy Rogers and both men opened separate music stores in and around Cincinnati in the early 1950s.  In 1967 they decided to merge their businesses and work...
Dan Herbert played trumpet as a kid and later switched to drums to form a rock band in the days following the Beatle’s popularity in the early 1960s.  During the summers, he would work part time for the local music store, Willis Music.  Dan remained a professional musician for several decades...
Janet Gratsch began working at Willis Music when she was 17 years old in the Choral Department.  She remained with the store until she retired and even after her retirement she would be called by the staff and hummed a song for her to name, and she would.  Janet was hired in 1940 and recalled with...
 Bob Willcutt still loves repairing guitars.  The nice view of downtown Lexington from his repair bench doesn't hurt.  Initially working as a social worker, Bob repaired and rebuilt vintage folk instruments as a hobby starting in the 1960's. After repairing and mentoring at a local music store, he...
Gordy Wilcher believes that with the right mixture of passion and knowledge, the independent music retailer has the strength to bring music to young students, build new brands within their stores and pass along a joy of music to those who walk in their doors. And every day Gordy and his staff try...
Carl Henderson opened his first piano store in Covington, KY in 1963, after nearly 20 years in the finance business. In the early days he struggled to increase his inventory but ensured that he always allowed a budget for advertising. Over the years his newspaper and TV ads have not only helped...
Rick Kukulies helped design and develop the Kustom line of amplifiers in the 1970s. His electrical engineering background along with the advances in technology during that era resulted in the highly successful Kustom product line. When the Hanser Music Group purchased the Kustom line, Rick stayed...
Bill Xavier was introduced into the music products industry while working with Hartley Peavey. Peavey became a strong mentor to Bill and was like a second father to him. Bill has often said that much of the passion he has for the music products industry was developed as a result of working with Mr...
Ernesto Gittli was born in Uruguay and moved to the U.S. as a small boy before he began taking piano lessons. He met his wife, who also taught music, and together they envisioned a music school that would encourage all ages to become music makers. Gittli Music opened in the mid- 1960s with a strong...

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