Oral History -

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Norman Pickering had a storied career. He worked as instrument designer for the legendary C.G. Conn Company in Elkhart. He also played a large role in the audio engineering field with his company, Pickering Audio, which produced record pick-ups for radio stations around the world and designed the modern phonograph cartridge. As an engineer, he also worked on airplanes and even medical ultrasound techniques, yet he was never too far from the field of musical engineering, which he loved. Norm passed away in the fall of 2015 at the age of 99. 

Bill Crowden was one of the true veterans of the music products industry!  He owned and operated Drums Ltd, one of the hot spots for jazz, symphonic and rock drummers for several decades.  The store was located on Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.  When Bill married into the Ludwig family by marrying the founder’s granddaughter Brooke, it was the perfect match.  Mr. and Mrs.

 Larry Larson loved the accordion!  He played it most of his life, so when he had the idea to sell and teach the instrument, opening a store seemed like the right thing to do.  He opened the small store in Glendale, California in 1956 and worked hard to build the teaching and service departments of the store.  Group accordion classes were extremely successful i

Stuart Spector’s creation of the Spector Bass is recognized around the world.  As Stuart explained, little has changed in the design of the Spector guitar since it was first created in 1974.  Three years later Stuart hired a furniture builder named Ned Steinberger, who designed the famed NS headless bass.  When Kramer Musical Instruments purchased Spector, a series of Kramer-Spector instruments were produced between 1986 and 1990 including the NS-6 electric guitar.  Years later he formed Stuart Spector Designs and created a host

Gotthold Meyer became a very successful German wholesaler when he and his wife formed the 'Gotthold Meyer' company, which later on became 'Musik-Meyer'.  His visionary thinking led to strong international relationships and partnerships around the world.  Gotthold was a key player in the export of musical instruments made in Germany to ports in the west and elsewhere in the difficult decades following World War II.  Gotthold has also played an important role in the expansion of the NAMM Oral History collection and the

Bob Moore’s bass can be heard on countless recordings made in Nashville during the 1950s through the 1980s.  As a member of studio musicians known as the A Team, Bob played on recordings with everyone from Patsy Cline to Elvis Presley.  In the 1960s he had a string of hits with his own band including the instrumental “Mexico.”  Bob’s bass playing helped blend country music and

Joseph Rashid studied the art of violin-making like few others.  His goal was not to mass produce the instrument or even to sell them, but rather to hand-make the instruments based on scientific evidence.  When he could not locate data on frequency measurements, he conducted his own studies to produce the needed data.  These studies helped him create a violin with a higher quality of sound and he happily shared his finding with other luthiers.  The results of many of his studies

Zeb Billings opened Billings Pianos in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1956 beginning a long and celebrated career in the music industry.  With great success as a retailer, Zeb branched out into publishing when he saw the need to include packets of sheet music in the bench of every piano sold.  The idea and others led to Billings Publishing, which he would later sell to Hal Leonard.

Ernesto Gittli was born in Uruguay and moved to the U.S. as a small boy before he began taking piano lessons. He met his wife, who also taught music, and together they envisioned a music school that would encourage all ages to become music makers. Gittli Music opened in the mid- 1960s with a strong focus on providing parents with an education regarding why music is important to their child long before “music makes you smarter” was ever a slogan.

 Shep Shepherd co-wrote the now classic instrumental “Honky Tonk Part 2” while playing in the Bill Doggett band.  The recording became a hit in the late 1950s and helped build a stronger audience for rock instrumentals, which remained popular throughout the mid 1960s.  Shep began playing drums and other percussive instruments at an early age and later developed a successful jaz