Oral History -

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Marie Jensen was born in Rosebud, Texas as the daughter of a Texas Ranger. She graduated college in Houston with a business degree before meeting Al Jensen on a blind date. The two were married in 1954 and had their only child, a daughter, in 1959.

Al Jensen began his musical career at the age of 13 playing clarinet in a Vaudeville show. That is, he played until his parents found out where he was playing. His band director convinced Al’s parents that if he switched to an oboe, he would never play such music again. As an oboist, Phil received a scholarship from Julliard and was later hired by several symphonies including the NBC orchestra led by Toscanini. After teaching band and making his own oboe reeds, Al and his wife Marie opened up Jensen’s Music Store in Enid, Oklahoma.

Carl Janelli played several instruments but was most fond of the saxophone. He began his career during the big band era and performed with Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey before embarking on a wonderful career in the Broadway show orchestras. His stories of the shows and stars he worked with were engaging and his love of music was inspiring.

Denzil Jacobs provided detailed and insightful stories of the piano industry in England from the 1930s into the 1980s. With a gentlemanly manner, Mr. Jacobs provided historical information on the growth of the piano market following World War II and how the Kemble Company expanded and grew under his management and leadership.

Wanda Jackson has been performing as an entertainer and singer worldwide for over 50 years. Known affectionately as the “Queen of Rockabilly”, she began her career as a teenage country singer with her own radio show in Oklahoma City and was “discovered” by legendary country singer Hank Thompson who got her a recording contract with Decca Records.

Ben Jack was born and raised in Arkansas, so it was no surprise that the passionate steel pedal guitarist would open up a string of successful stores in and around Fayetteville. As one of the leaders of music retailing in the state, if not the country, Ben pioneered many of the American built instruments in their heydays, such as Fender and Peavey. In fact, Ben Jack Music is the oldest Peavey dealer still selling the product today.

Dick Hyman has always been an innovative musician and as a result has performed on many of the latest developments in musical instruments over his long career. Known mostly for his jazz style on the piano, Dick has gained attention for his early work on the organ, the electronic harpsichord and the Moog synthesizer.

Jack Hyde was the classic music retailer of the 21st Century. Jack opened a store in the mid 1950s because he loved music, plain and simple. The store, in Northern California, became such a success that he soon opened a chain of Jack’s House of Music stores.

Gareth Hunt is the Managing Director of Soundcontrol, a musical instrument retailer located in England. As a young boy, he played in a traveling band on guitar. In fact, his father was his roadie and driver (after all, it was before Gareth could drive himself). As a player, Gareth could call on his friend who had a small retail store to buy the bands equipment. The owner hired Gareth in 1980. During this time, the store expanded to include a larger number of product lines and soon opened a second store in Sheffield, England.

Frank Huffman was the quintessential traveling music salesman! With charm and always a few good jokes, Frank has made his way across the United States, first for Wurlitzer and then for Baldwin. Standing next to Frank in a smoke-filled bar, one could meet all the other travelers who knew him by name and who shared, as Frank did, their many road stories.

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