Library - In Memoriam

Remembering oral history interviewees who have passed away.

William F. Ludwig II was proud of the company his father started, largely based on the 1909 patented bass drum pedal, which allowed the drummer to sit down for the first time.

Billy Wennlund and his brother Don made up one of the most iconic sales teams in the music products industry. Don was the salesman, the guy with the pitch and Billy knew the products inside out. Together they helped establish the Lowrey Organ in the home market. They were both born in DeKalb, IL and while Billy was in the US Navy, Don got a job at Wurlitzer. When he returned, Billy joined Don at Wurlitzer and in 1958 they opened their own music retail store. Years later Billy became the Vice President of Product Development for Norlin, which owned Lowrey Organs.

Kenny Chilton was deeply passionate about the electric organ. While working at a piano and organ retail store in the Los Angeles area in the late 1960s, Kenny was approached by a research team working with the Mattel Toy Company. After answering a series of questions over several days he was asked if he would be interested in helping the toy company design and produce a low end organ instrument. Kenny headed the sales efforts for the Optigan, which was produced between 1971 and 1976.

John Massa was the vice president of customer service at the Selmer Company and was known for building a strong dealer base, many of which became his personal friends. John contracted Polio at the age of 12 and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but never once let his disability define him. He was a pioneer in handicap awareness by just insisting he be able to do his job. As a result ramps were added to airports he used and buildings he worked in. During his 17 years of attending the Frankfurt Fair special chairlifts were installed to accommodate his needs.

Bob Luly built the first sound system for the Rolling Stones that they used in the United States. The system was created for the Orange Show in the 1960s and led Bill to build systems for the likes of Three Dog Night and Frank Zappa (whom Bill played electric bass for on stage in the early part of Zappa’s career). Bob worked to improve the sound and electronics for live shows and found he had a great interest in designing amplifiers.

James M. E. Mixter may very well have been the only person in the industry to have worked for Baldwin Pianos before, during, and after World War II. As a result, he was able to provide meaningful stories and facts regarding an era for which changes occurred in the industry. These changes had an enormous impact on music making for many years. Mr. Mixter later served as President of the American Music Conference (AMC) and provided wonderful insight on the growth, development, mission, and goals of AMC.

Charles Bickel was working on the bench at Selmer when George Bundy decided to try a different plastic emulsion for his idea of a plastic clarinet. The first try was not successful. Mr. Bickel recalled the look in Bundy’s eyes when the first Resonate clarinet was tested, “We all started to clap and cheer.” The product saved the Depression-weary company and, because of its low cost, allowed many families on tight budgets to still afford music for their children. Charles worked his way up to president of Selmer before his retirement in the 1970s.

Ted Krumwiede was a veteran of the piano industry working for Kimball and Story & Clark in the important re-birth of the piano business following World War II.

 William McCormick may always be referred to as an industry outsider by some because he came to the music retail business with a Harvard MBA, from the sugar industry – over 30 years ago!  His skillful understanding of the business was second to none.  His service to the Jordan Ki

Ike Turner was well known for his role in the life of Tina Turner and as the guitarist and arranger of her early career.

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