Oral History -

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Lou Berger is an energetic piano salesman in the style of the old piano traveler of a by-gone era. In fact, what Lou knows about selling pianos he learned from some of the old timers when he was a young man starting out in the business.

Remo Belli revolutionized the music products industry by introducing the Weather King, the single most popular drumhead in the world! As a jazz drummer, Remo was looking for ways to improve the percussive products he was using. Once his team of chemists found the perfect formula, Remo took it around to his many drummer friends to test the product out.

Jane Smisor Bastien together with her husband. James Bastien., wrote the best-selling method-book, Bastien Piano Methods, enjoyed by millions of students and teachers worldwide. The series of books, all published by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company, are now translated into more than 16 languages.

 Howard Bailey was the executive account representative for the Freeman Companies, which serviced the NAMM show. Howard became a beloved part of the NAMM family and helped develop many benefits for the trade show attendee as well as the exhibitor. Beginning in 1964, Howard provided detail dimensions and locations of the exhibit space (first in hotel sleeping rooms and later in the great ballroom and convention settings), which provided great benefit to the exhibitor, allowing them to be more precise about the inventory they brought to the show.

Bob Ziems (it sounds like "seems as in Ziems it seems") was a dedicated member of the testing department at CG Conn from 1941-1971 and later with Selmer. However, it was what he did for a hobby that became most important to the NAMM Resource Center. As early as 1937, Bob took photographs of every musical company, store and even small tool shed that produced instruments in the town of Elkhart.

George Ullmann directed the Boosey & Hawks Canadian operation for several decades beginning in the 1970s. It was during those early days of expanding the Canadian music market that George began serving on the Musical Instrument Association of Canada’s Board (MIAC). While George served as president of MIAC the association enjoyed a growth in members both domestic and foreign as well as the launch of several educational initiatives. After Boosey & Hawks closed their Canadian distribution, George formed his own company, Counterpoint Musical Service.

Johnny Smith! What can you say about meeting not only your personal hero but also a hero to thousands in our own industry! Johnny Smith was in person what he has been on recordings, warm, engaging and inspirational. Over the years Johnny has been linked to many innovative musical products, most notably the guitar that bears his name.

William Schultz turned the struggling Fender Musical Instrument Corporation into an industry leader after purchasing the famed guitar company from CBS in 1985. Born in McKeesport, PA on July 30, 1926, he began playing the saxophone professionally before World War II and then opened his own musical instrument repair business within the Progressive Music store.

Leonard Schmitt opened a small guitar shop to provide lessons in the St. Louis area back in 1932. At the time we wrote a method for teaching music called the Schmitt Music Training Approach. Over the years the method has been used to educate millions of students on how to make music.

Jimmy Saied, the founder of the Saied Music Store chain in Oklahoma loved the marches of John Phillip Sousa! In fact, he liked them so much that he teamed with then NAMM President Ziggy Coyle to create the bill Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1983 making the “Stars and Strips Forever” the national march.

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