Oral History -

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Jake Hanna was the epitome of what a big band drummer is all about. Jake started playing drums at five in a drum corps in the Boston area. He continued to play drums in the bands of Harry James, Maynard Ferguson, and Woody Herman, among others. He was widely known and respected in the recording studios and on television shows from Los Angeles and Hollywood.

Herbie Hancock’s career as a musician and performer spans six decades. He was a member of the legendary Miles Davis Quintet and gave the world “Head Hunters” (jazz’s first platinum album) and other crossover hits such as the Grammy winning “Rockit.” Interestingly enough, what Herbie wanted to talk about most was his love for technology and how he has used electronic musical instruments to create new and different sounds.

John C. Hall’s father purchased a guitar company from Adolph Rickenbacker, who was a cousin of the famed fighter pilot, Eddie Rickenbacker. The Rickenbacker Guitar Company made and sold Hawaiian guitars in the early 1930s including an electric model now known as the Frying Pan and historically the first electric guitar. John grew up in the business.

Charles Hale had an idea to hire a monkey to show how an easy-play organ could be operated by anyone. The hysterically funny ads were one of a million clever ideas Hale used in selling keyboard instruments.

Joe Guth’s career in the music products industry began with a short stint with Selmer and as a former band director he brought a great perspective to selling instruments to school music programs.

Veronika Gruber was musically trained as a child but did not think of a career in music until she met her husband, Hans, in college. He was a jazz fan who found it difficult to find music for his band, so he began distributing American publications in Germany. In 1978, the Advanced Music Company was formed.

Arthur Griggs will make you smile when you hear him talk about the two loves of his life, his wife and the music industry. Sitting in his easy chair, next to the fireplace, in his Glencoe, IL home, the 93 year old spoke with passion and pride.

Don Griffin is the founder and president of West LA Music in Los Angeles, CA. Don’s background in music and customer service made his store the idea stop for many of the rock and studio musicians in southern California. Don was one of the very first music retailers to break into the pro audio and lighting fields as early as the late 1960s. Don served as the president of the NAMM Board of Directors from 1987-1989.

Fred Gretsch embraces the great history of our industry like no other. Perhaps for good reason, his family has played a vital role in the development of the industry for over 120 years. With remarkable stories of family members, innovative products and great marketing ideas, Fred outlined a few of the most historical moments in his company’s history.

Dinah Gretsch is Vice President to her husband Fred’s presidency of the Gretsch Company. Her role in the company has been very significant due to her knowledge of licensing and other contract agreements, which has been a large part of the company’s growth over the past decade.

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