Oral History -

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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.

Lynn Wheelwright has always been fascinated with the guitar, especially the craft of building the instrument. After performing as a teenager, he developed many of his luthier skills from repairing guitars in his own shop. After befriending Alvino Rey in the 1980s and repairing several of Mr. Rey’s instruments, Lynn began studying the history of vintage guitars.

Stephen Stern was born a wood craftsman. In fact, growing up his two passions became building furniture and playing the guitar. When he had an opportunity to put both together in the early 1980s, he jumped at the chance and went to work for Charvel Guitars. After returning to cabinet making he saw an ad for a job at the newly created custom guitar division at Fender and applied for the job. John Page hired him back in 1993 and gave Stephen the task of over-seeing the building of the D’Aquisto arch top guitars at Fender.

Dan Smith was inducted into Fender’s Hall of Fame for good reason. Dan designed the re-launching of the famous guitar company after it was sold by CBS. Dan’s vision was to bring the product back to the early concepts that originally made the Fender name famous. His success led to a long career with Fender including his role with artist relations and marketing.

Money Mark grew up fascinated with music and musical instruments. He read all he could about the latest keyboards and synthesizers, which were becoming popular during his childhood. In his 20s he played in several Los Angeles-area bands, wrote his own music and began recording. All of this was the perfect background for his next big adventure--meeting and recording with the Beastie Boys. Money Mark worked on the Check Your Head album in 1992 as well as III Communication (1994), Hello Nasty (1998) and The Mix Up (2007).

George Hanson’s father was hired by M. Steinert and Sons, the piano dealer in Boston, in 1900. Forty years later George would help his father out after school and on weekends to earn some pocket money. In 1947 George was hired full time and became the longest running employee in the company’s history.

Frank Green opened his first music retail store in Southern California in 1959 and called it Music For Everyone. He began working in the music industry some 12 years earlier as student enroller in an accordion school. He soon became a teacher for the school and a manager before deciding to open his own store.