Oral History -

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Ray Benedetto and Gene Garb were interviewed together in connection with the 50th anniversary of NEMC (National Educational Music Company) at the NAMM show in 2007. Ray, the president and founder, has worked closely with Garb, the vice president, for 47 years. Together they outlined the original goals of NEMC of Mountainside, NJ.

Harry Begian was one of the most respected band directors in the United States. Serving at the high school and college levels for over 45 years, Dr. Begian conducted his first band while he was in his teens.

Mike Battle invented the Echoplex, the pioneering electric effects device, which played a vital role in the early development of the rock and roll sound. The Echoplex was famously used by Sun Records founder Sam Phillips who used the echo effect on several of Elvis Presley’s first recordings (“Blue Moon” and “Mystery Train” showcase this sound beautifully).

Chuck Barnhouse is the third generation to own and operate the C. L. Barnhouse Publishing Company. His grandfather established the firm in 1886 and over the years the company has commissioned a rather impressive list of composers to create band and orchestral music. Among their most noted are composers, James Swearingen, Alfred Reed and Frank Mantooth.

Rod Baltimore has been a music retailer in New York for over 40 years. Much of that time was spent on the famed 48th street music central. Working with brass and woodwinds, Rod has maintained one of the most sought after repair shops in the state and often does work for customers outside the state and country.

Ray Ayotte was born in Millardville Canada where as a youngster he began playing drums for rock bands he formed with schoolmates. Throughout his early playing days, Ray made little adjustments to his kit and learned that other players enjoyed the changes and sounds he could make. He dreamed of one day making his own drum set.

Byron Autrey loved to tell you everything you needed to know about how a trumpet works, and I mean everything! Byron studied the craft of trumpet design for decades, having been a player all of his life.  

Jerry Ash recalls his father, Sam Ash, giving him a pocket full of change and sending him off on the subway to New York City to pick up the sheet music orders from the publishers. With nickels for the subway rides and some string for wrapping the bundles, Jerry set off.

Paul Ash had great memories of his father, Sam Ash, the founder of Sam Ash Music in New York. Paul enjoyed the years he worked with his father and credited him for his knowledge of the music products business. Paul also learned his philosophy of customer care from his father, which he developed during his long career in the store.

Bernice Ash began working at the Sam Ash Music Store in New York City in 1947, one year before marrying the founder’s eldest son, Jerry. Bernice and Jerry continued the tradition of keeping the retail store in the Ash family. Bernice is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of the development of the sheet music department, which included purchasing and inventory.