Oral History -
John Galante was the accountant for the Story & Clark Piano Company beginning in the late 1950s. John oversaw the growth and development of the piano industry during those years and witnessed first hand the powerful team at Story & Clark as they worked to compete with the home organ boom, which became strong in the mid to late 1960s. John enjoyed his role within the company and took pride in the team of people that he brought together on various programs over the years.
Bob Furst was a veteran of the piano industry for over 50 years, Bob sold nearly every brand of player, upright and grand piano that you can think of. Over the years he also became an expert on the value of pianos and a historian on the background of piano manufacturers.
C. Darby Fulton’s father opened a music store, which seemed the perfect place for Darby growing up. He enjoyed the business and worked with his father as the company grew into 26 locations during the boom of the home organ craze in the 1960s.
Larry Fresch has worked by day as a sales manager for piano and organ companies and by night as an accomplished saxophone player and singer in Southern California. He grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, where his father had a music retail store. Young Larry began playing the accordion before switching to the saxophone at the age of ten. He enlisted in the United States Navy and attended the Navy Music School in Washington, DC. Larry performed on many Goodwill Tours including those for wounded soldiers returning home from Vietnam.
Wolfgang Förster’s family-owned piano company was formed in 1859 by August Förster, who opened a small piano workshop in "Löbau, Germany. Wolfgang grew up in the family business and recalled as a young boy hiding under the workbench while his father and grandfather worked on building pianos. After nationalization of East Germany in the early 1970s, the company became state-owned, although Wolfgang continued to manage the building of their musical instruments.
John Felice likes to say he was in the right place at the right time when he opened a Hammond Organ dealership in the 1960s. As the home organ market began to take off John had the staff and inventory in place to meet customer’s needs. His creative marketing led to many special promotions within the store as well as sales at events such as county fairs.
Keith Emerson was the British rocker who in the early 1970s helped define live performances on electronic musical instruments such as the modular Moog. He gained fame as a musical composer and clever keyboardist for The Nice before forming Emerson, Lake & Palmer and recording a string of hits for the influential supergroup. With high profile tours and live performances all around the world, Keith helped set the standard in high-tech gear. With towers of keyboards and large patch chord towers, the stage often looked like a spaceship, with sounds to match.
Vernon Drane played several musical instruments growing up in Tennessee including the trumpet and saxophone. He later studied instrument repair and spent 68 years (!) working with the Amro Music Company in Memphis.
Dave Campbell grew up in a household full of music! Both of his grandmothers were piano teachers and his father was a professional piano player. With such a strong background in music it was no surprise that Dave became a professional musician and made it his career until his early 30s.
Dean Burtch was a past president of the world famous music publisher and retailer JW Pepper. The company was formed in 1876 and was purchased in 1941 by a group of businessmen headed by Harold Burtch. Under Harold’s leadership, the company expanded its publishing catalog and opened a chain of retail outlets across the United States.