Oral History -

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Johnny Wright was among the most popular of the traveling country bandleaders during the big band era. Blending his country music roots with a slight bluegrass feel, Johnny’s band was the perfect backdrop for singers such as his beloved wife, Kitty Wells.

John Worthington began as an engineer in the early days of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), and, in fact, helped program the MIDI time code. John also worked at Apple Computers during the company’s early involvement in computer music.

Gerald Wilson was among the great arrangers of jazz, beginning back in the swing era when he worked for the famed Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. He established a distinctive style rich in melodic phrases and tasty rhythms, which stood out among the most stylish jazz arrangements. The impressive list of those artists he worked with is equaled only to that of the list of those who loved and respected him as a gentleman and as a musician.

Roger Williams was known throughout the world for his countless albums and top ten hits as a solo pianist. He had a remarkable career in bridging rock and roll and in incorporating jazz and American popular music along with classical into his performances and recordings.

Joe Wilder endorsed many musical products during his long career as a trumpeter. In the later part of his life he was very satisfied with the Buescher horns, but had a collection of other instruments, such as Holton and Conn, which he played during the swing era.

Gerald “Wig” Wiggins was a world renowned composer, arranger and jazz keyboardist. As an early pioneer in playing jazz on the Hammond B-3 organ, Wig had a strong interest in new and inventive sounds. His creatively can be heard in hundreds of recordings and motion pictures beginning in the 1930s.

George Westjohn was hired by Lowell Samuel to oversee the expansion of Mr. Samuel’s interests in the wholesale music business. Mr. Samuel, a former band director, started a music store in the 1940s and a decade later established Midco Music, a music wholesale business with a focus on band and orchestra instruments.

Jack Westheimer was among the first industry leaders interviewed for the NAMM archives back in July 2002. Four years later we had the unique opportunity to complete a second interview with Jack, which focused on his ideas behind Cort Guitars and his early involvement in the Chinese market. Jack pioneered several aspects of commerce with China long before it was a common place for musical instrument manufacturing on a global scale. Jack also pioneered many marketing ideas and conspectus that have become common in the industry.

Eleanor West and her husband Pearl established a music store in Iowa City just a year after getting married in 1940. Eleanor was the bookkeeper in the early years of West Music Company and was known to make a penny last during the Great Depression and World War II.

Paul Wertico grew up in Chicago with a passion for music making. At the age of 15 he landed his first professional gig as a drummer and never set the sticks down. As an award winning musician and innovator in fusion, Paul gained worldwide recognition as a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1983 until 2001, playing on ten of the bands recordings. Shortly before leaving Metheny, Paul began a long association with guitarist Larry Coryell, becoming the drummer of the Larry Coryell Trio from 2000 through 2007.

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