Library - In Memoriam

Remembering oral history interviewees who have passed away.

Del Courtney was among the most popular Big Band leaders of the golden age of swing. Getting his start in the Al Hill Orchestra, Del soon found fame when he formed his own band at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Calif., in 1939.

 David Abell formed his piano retail store in Beverly Hills back in the late 1950s.  Since that time he has established one of the finest reputations in our industry.  Noted musicians, industry leaders and movie stars alike have boasted of his quality of service and the fact that most of h

Lou Mitchell was a product of the big band era and cut his teeth on swinging trumpet solos, such as those of his musical heroes of the 1930s. After meeting Rafael Mendez (his life-long friend), Lou moved to Hollywood and worked for the movie studios on countless soundtracks.

Bud Reglein’s uncle formed a small mouthpiece company in Elkhart, IN and named it jj Babbitt as he felt it sounded better than Jessie James Babbitt. Bud took over the company in 1939 and, in the 1940s, engineered a custom facing machine to ensure each mouthpiece made could be consistent, thus setting the stage for a much larger product line. His creative thinking and dedication guided the company through expansions and growth. Bud’s son, William, took over as company president and has clearly inherited his father’s love of the industry.

This audio only interview was conducted for a radio program by Dan Del Fiorentino and donated to the NAMM Oral History program: Jack Lesberg expressed feeling blessed and how proud he was being a musician and sharing music with people all around the world during his interview.

Dr. Robert Moog was the father of the synthesizer and perhaps the best-known promoter of the Theremin and electronic music. When he passed away in 2005 after a short illness, he was eulogized as an inventor and lover of music. When his Modular Moog was introduced in 1965, followed by the Minimoog in 1969, he forever changed the range of tone in modern music, and many would say its attitude as well. The synthesizer celebrated the two things Bob loved most, electronics and music. Before Bob, the idea of electronic music was toy like; today, it is a way of life.

 Howard Bailey was the executive account representative for the Freeman Companies, which serviced the NAMM show. Howard became a beloved part of the NAMM family and helped develop many benefits for the trade show attendee as well as the exhibitor. Beginning in 1964, Howard provided detail dimensions and locations of the exhibit space (first in hotel sleeping rooms and later in the great ballroom and convention settings), which provided great benefit to the exhibitor, allowing them to be more precise about the inventory they brought to the show.

Bernie Vance played the saxophone in a number of big bands during the swing era. He was drafted and served during World War II, only to come home and find that musical tastes had changed. The big band era was over so Bernie turned to what he knew best, his horn. If he couldn’t play it for a living, he would teach and sell. In 1946, the Vance Music Store opened in Bloomington, IN. However, the first year was a difficult one for the store (like so many others in his same situation). Bernie needed to learn about overhead and taxes, which he learned fast.

Al Kahn, the founder of Electro Voice and the inventor of several important microphone models told a great story on how his company got its name. Mr. Kahn was an industry pioneer and an early supporter of AMC and a NAMM member since the year after the company was formed in 1932!

Jimmy Martin came to the door the day of his interview in nothing but his boxers. He exclaimed, “Was that today!? Well, come on in, let me go get my teeth” and so started one of the most entertaining interviews of our collection.

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