Oral History -
Millie Swanson was known as “The Sweetheart of Wurlitzer.” She joined the company in 1931 as an office clerk while still in high school. Over the years, as Wurlitzer grew into the largest musical instrument maker in the world, Millie was promoted to assistant to Mr. Wurlitzer and served in that position under the direction of three company presidents.
Jim Swearingen began composing for his students. He soon realized his music was not only helping students learn to play, but was also encouraging them since the music was similar to popular music the students heard on the radio. Soon his work got the attention of Barnhouse Music, which has published most of his music and method books over the years.
Bruce Swedien was working with Quincy Jones when Michael Jackson asked the two if they would work on his upcoming album, a thing called “Thriller.” It became the biggest selling album on the planet and in same ways has overshadowed Bruce’s amazing career before and after “Thriller.” As a recording engineer, he set the standard for many methods in audio engineering that contin
Michael Sweeney has been heavily involved in all aspects of music education over his career in the music industry. Originally a public school band director, he’s been a full-time employee of Hal Leonard Corporation since 1982, serving as director of band publications, composer, arranger, clinician and guest conductor.
Joe Swenson played trumpet in grade school and was influenced by his mother who played the piano and gave lessons. While earning his degree in trumpet performance in college, Joe worked in a local music store where his interest in piano tuning began. He befriended the store’s piano technician and worked by his side throughout his college years, then took over the tuning busin
Logan Swords has always been passionate about music and about promoting music makers. As a young child he began playing drums and found out first-hand the benefits of music making. When he opened his own music retail shop in Fort Worth, Texas, he found himself in the position of bringing those benefits into the lives of those who walked in his doors.
Wilton Syckes was thought to have sold more pianos than any other salesman. A veteran of the industry, Wilton was also a former president of the National Piano Traveler’s Association. The association awarded its lifetime achievement award to Wilton in 2000. Wilton’s love and knowledge of the piano business was unequaled – a fact clear to all those lucky enough to have met him.
Steve Sykes found it easy to answer one of the biggest questions in a NAMM Oral History interview; “Did you have music in your house growing up?”. Steve’s mom was a booking agent in the 1950s which led Steve to early encounters with the likes of Art Blakely, Nina Simone, Jimmy Smith, and Buddy Rich.
Chris Syllaba grew up in Washington D.C. and found music throughout the city during his childhood years. He soon found a position within Jordan Kitt’s Music store in 1984 and rose through the ranks to his current position as the President and CEO.
Tom Szerencse worked his way up to an Engineering Group Manager overseeing Crown International’s design prototyping efforts. In the mid 80’s his team worked with the Marketing department to define new products that would solve customer requirements.