Oral History -
Mel Graner was a school band director for nearly 30 years--it was in his blood and he very much enjoyed each class. When the school district let him go to hire a younger teacher, he was not yet ready to retire or give up on teaching music. He opened Graner Music in Colorado Springs, CO, and continued teaching both by providing lessons and by imparting knowledge to his customers. He was raised on a farm and has held on to many of the values he gleaned from those early years, including the idea of helping your neighbors.
Terry Gibbs seems to live for the vibes! As a legendary jazz percussionist, Terry’s power and unique style of mallet playing has singled him out as one of the top vibraphonists in the history of jazz. Being influenced by Red Norvo and Lionel Hampton, Terry gave the vibes a fresh new sound in the pre- and post-Bebop eras.
Jimmy Gibbs opened the very first crate containing a Hammond B-3 in the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Several years later, at the height of the Cold War, Jimmy brought the famous organ to Moscow, the first person to do so in history. He found that “music can speak every language and that no one ever needs to interpret a smile on the face of those playing music.
Mateo Galanti and his family have been instrumental in the growth and development of the accordion and organ industry, both inside and outside the United States. Beginning in the 1950s, the accordion became one of the leading instruments in the industry; however, dealer relations were not yet well organized for imported goods. The Galanti family pioneered these efforts and worked the accordion explosion right into the organ craze of the 1950s and 60s. Mateo developed one of the first portable keyboards, which was the first of many innovations enjoyed by the company.
Wilbur Fuller took to woodwork at a young age. When he was 16, from the instructions in a magazine, he made a desk, which still stands in the corner of his small farmhouse in western Michigan. In 1954, his cousin Walter, who engineered the Gibson amplifier in nearby Kalamazoo, told Wilbur of an opening in the company’s wood shop.
Peter Frampton is known around the world as a musician and singer who took the charts by storm in the 1970s. To the music products industry Peter is best known as a friend and promoter of the talk box. Bob Heil created a talk box that he gave to Peter as a Christmas gift in 1973. Peter later used it on his album Frampton Comes Alive!
Nokie Edwards was an original member of the Ventures, a rock group of the 1960’s that helped popularize instrumental recordings. The band enjoyed several hit records including “Walk Don’t Run.” They remained active during much of the 60’s, even providing the music for the “Hawaii Five-O” television theme.
Jim Dunlop started the Dunlop Manufacturing company in 1965 in Benicia, California, and followed his dream to provide quality products for fellow musicians. Along the way he created the Dunlop Cry Baby, an innovative wah-wah pedal for the electric guitar.
Lennie DiMuzio was told for years that he ought to write a book about his career and his many stories, so he did! Lennie was the artist relations director for Zildjian Cymbal Company for many years. He oversaw the line-up of endorsees and their many activities, as well as the company’s printed material related to musicians and their official endorsees.
Buddy DeFranco’s clarinet style helped to legitimize the instrument in the post-swing era as a modern jazz instrument and his techniques have been a major influence on performers ever since the late 1940s. Buddy’s powerful tone and unique approach to phrasing gave rise to the clarinet’s strong presence in the modern and post-modern jazz eras.