Oral History -

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 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!

Julian Markson can tell the history of the piano industry in England because he and his family lived it. His grandfather was a piano tuner who expanded the business in south-east London with a small shop where two of his sons, including Julian’s father, began to work.

Iris Manus and her husband, Morty, are one of the most adorable couples you may ever meet. Their interview was full of colorful remembrances of the early days of Alfred Publishing, how they met, and the great pride of their sons now running the company. The friendships they have created in the industry and the reputation they created within their company is legendary.

William Kraft has dedicated his life as a composer to the world of percussion. With noted works and workshops, William has become an important part of the educational element of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). In fact, several of his notable pieces were introduced during PASIC over the years. He grew up in San Diego and joined the United States Air Force for three years in the later part of World War II.

Mark Kelly served on the Midwest Band Clinic board for over 30 years, beginning in the 1980s and played a vital role in the growth and popularity of the clinic and its programs. He attended his first Midwest program in 1954 and recalled with great details watching Harry Begain’s school band perform. 

Bill Kaman served as president of Kaman Music Corporation, a company started by his father. Under Bill’s direction, Kaman Music expanded its product line, developed overseas markets, and acquired new companies to be managed under the corporation.

Mac Johnson, as she is known throughout the music industry, was the devoted wife of Mississippi Music founder Jimmy Johnson. She was also the mother of their sons, Bix and Dex, both of whom are involved in the music products industry. Mac worked in the store as a salesperson and played a vital role in the expansion of the business to multiple locations.

James Johnson was first and foremost a band director -- a well respected one at that! He opened Mississippi Music while still teaching and soon became involved with a long list of industry organizations. He added his insight and knowledge as President of NAMM, President of AMC, and as an honored member of the American Bandmasters Association.