Oral History -

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Lyle Ritz worked for a Los Angeles music store in the 1950s when his career as a studio musician began to take off. Lyle’s studio years were filled with numerous ground-breaking hits, many featuring his influential electric bass. His incredible list of recordings includes “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher and the Beach Boys “Good Vibrations.” In the 1980s, Lyle returned to his first musical love, the ukulele, thanks to the urging of Flea Market Music founder and ukulele historian Jim Beloff.

Larry Moody began his career in the music industry as a retailer working for Ziggy Coyle in Ohio. The store was owned by Ziggy, a past president of the NAMM Board of Directors, and Russell Hill. The retail experience was helpful to Larry, who was hired by Yamaha and later by the Gemeinhart Flute Company in Elkhart, Indiana.

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.

Johnny Mandel is the arranger and composer who may be best known for writing the theme to the movie and television series M*A*S*H*. As a songwriter he spent several years in the 1940s and 50s plugging his songs in the Brill Building in New York, the then hub for music publishing.

Abbie Leithold-Gerzema is the co-owner of Leithold Music in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Abbie and her brother also share management duties in the store that their great-grandfather established in 1888. Abbie graduated from Drake University with a music degree in Pipe Organ and Music Business.

Teresa Leithold began teaching music in 1956 and conducted her last lesson just ten days before she passed away at the age of 87 on February 13, 2019. Music was her passion!  While her husband ran the family music store in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Mrs. Leithold created the music lesson program for the store.

Roger Leithold recalled moving into the historic building where Leithold Music is located on Fourth Street in La Crosse, Wisconsin during his NAMM Oral History interview. The building was originally a furniture store created in 1889. When the Leithold's moved their store into the building in 1964 the store was actually older than the building.

Paul Leithold is the fourth generation to run the Leithold Music store, along with his sister Abbie. The La Crosse, Wisconsin-based store was established in 1888 as a piano store and repair shop. Just like his great-grandfather, Paul was trained as a piano tuner and has overseen many elements of the company including the band, orchestra and combo departments. He has created the store’s web site and stayed abreast of technology to uncover new areas of growth for the company.

Russell Kephart enjoyed his years as a band director but found great satisfaction when he opened his own music store and could provide the service he felt band directors were missing. The Iowa-based store expanded over the decades but always remained focused on customer service.

Lynn Kephart worked with her husband Russ to establish the Iowa-based Kephart Music Centers. Her attention to details was the perfect match for accounting, inventory and payroll in the pre-computer age. Her friends spanned the entire industry, retailers and suppliers alike, and she is often thought of fondly for her memorable dinner parties.