Oral History -

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Carol Jones-Zadel has introduced new organs and keyboard products to music dealers around the world for over 30 years. Her sharp technical abilities made her a favorite with manufactures and her warm, down-to-Earth personality made her among the most requested product artists in the industry.

Marvin Jones is the founding editor of Polyphony, an early and important magazine covering the growth and development of the synthesizer industry and its many innovators and leaders. Marvin talked of his wonderful background in music, going back to his father who was a designer and creator of musical instruments who showed his son that creating a sound was more than just playing an instrument, it was crafting an instrument that could make different sounds.

Ray Johnson can be heard playing the rhythmic piano parts on such classics as "Traveling Man" by Ricky Nelson and "Rambling Rose" by Nat "King" Cole. After several sessions with his brother, sax man Plas Johnson, Ray recorded several sides with soul singer Sam Cooke. Ray provided great insight on his own career, placing his main inspiration on his mother.

Budd Johnson was a key member of the TEAC team that oversaw the development of the American branch of the company known as TASCAM. As a result Budd was there in the late 1960s through the early 70s to witness first hand, the remarkable and somewhat unexpected success of the home recording market.

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.