Oral History -
Michael Nugent is the former president of Norlin Corporation. He joined the company when it was still Chicago Musical Instrument Corporation (CMI). M.H. Berlin, CMI’s founder, had purchased a few instrument lines to expand the company’s keyboard products department. Mr. Berlin’s son, Arnie, hired Michael to oversee that growing department. As it turned out, he was hired in the early 1970s, which was the beginning of the greatest sales boom the home organ has ever experienced.
John Morgan was a band instrument sales rep who knew how to talk to school band directors. After all, he had been a director for years and once he entered the music products industry, it seemed like a perfect fit. He was still a teacher as he recalled, and he was still encouraging students to play a musical instrument. John worked for GC Conn, Selmer, Gemeinhardt flutes, United Musical Instruments (UMI) and King Band instruments during his 30 plus years as a rep. When Gemeinhardt merged to expand its product line beyond flutes, John stayed on with the company, which changed its name to Gem Stone.
Joe Morello’s influential drumming style was showcased on the landmark Dave Brubeck recording of “Take Five.” Ever since, he has inspired generations of performers. Joe became an icon in the music product’s industry through his long associations with manufacturers as an endorsee, music retailers as a clinician, and publishers as an author of successful method books.
Marty Morell played drums as part of the Bill Evans Trio for seven years. His long list of jazz recordings covers the gamut of styles and songs. The list of performers with whom Marty has played reads like a Who’s Who book! His repertoire ranged from classical music to Broadway with such stage shows as the Tony Award-winning musical “Ragtime” and “Kiss Me Kate” (2001).
Ron Modell is among the most popular musicians/school band directors in the United States. As a trumpeter he worked with the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra as well as with jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Mel Tormé. His first teaching experiences took place at Kansas State Teachers College in 1958.
Cam Miller established himself as a respected music critic and journalist who was a long-time supporter of countless jazz festivals and concerts for over five decades. Cam began his professional writing career with the Blade Tribune in Northern San Diego in 1954 as a freelance jazz writer before joining the San Diego Union newspaper as the entertainment editor in 1983.
Lothar Meisel was the ninth generation of violinmakers in his family, going back to 1660 in Klingenthal, Germany. He recalled with a smile the days as a young boy hiding under his grandfather's work bench and even in later years Lothar could recall the lay out of his grandfather's workshop.
Phil McKinney and his family have a long history in musical retailing in northern Oklahoma. Louie Chenoweth and Russell Green opened their first music store, Chenoweth & Green Music, in Enid, OK in 1926. Not only did they remain in business with each other for over 50 years, they were also brothers-in-law (they married the former Velma and Nellie Warrick). Over the years, the company bought smaller stores in and around the area such as a store in Bartlesville, which was managed by Mr. Green’s son-in-law, Lewis McKinney. When World War II ended, Mr.
Bob McGrath, next to Elmo and Big Bird, may be the most familiar face on Sesame Street. Without question, he is one of the leaders in the promotion of music education and in recent years has played a key role in the expansion of NAMM programs around the country with the goal of promoting music makers.
Mike Matthews has incredible stories to tell! The founder of Electro Harmonics and the pioneer of guitar effects pedals seem to have a story for all occasions. His innovations have helped shape a generation of music makers such as his late friend Jimi Hendrix. Mike has been on the frontlines of trade relations and exportation of products from countries such as Russia (as early as 1978 if you can believe that). He has established himself as a spokesperson for his generation of music makers who want to be successful in business while having enough time to rock and roll!