Oral History -
Don Dillon is an industry original! Throughout his 25-plus years in non-profit association management, Don has represented some of the best-known organizations in the music industry, most notably the Piano Manufacturers Association International and National Piano Foundation.
Bo Diddley was the pioneering rhythm and blues performer who taught the industry one main point in the early days of the electric guitar era. With his square cigar box guitar, patented by Gretsch, Bo demonstrated that, if it’s electronic, it could be any shape and size.
Milton DeLugg wrote many remarkable and popular songs such as "Orange Blossom Sky," recorded by Nat King Cole. He wrote TV theme songs and stacks of movie music. All the while, he was working with and becoming friends with the great American tunesmiths, being one of them himself.
Joey DeFrancesco has single handedly brought back the popularity of the Hammond B-3, beginning in the 1990s. Joey’s soulful approach echoes his heroes of the past such as Jimmy Smith, whom he recorded with in 2005. Joey has also brought the organ style up-to-date to be played smoothly in jazz. Under Suzuki the B-3 was put back in production in 2004 and with Joey’s promotion both as an endorsee and performer the instrument is once again playing a role in modern music.
Murray Davison was a trumpet player who had a few gigs during the Big Band Era, but had to get a day job after the war. While he became a successful businessman, music was never far away. In the 1960s, he established the "Jazz at Noon" concert series in New York City and, a decade later, began writing jazz articles for publications.
Jim Cruickshank had an eye for design! While a proud member of the Fender guitar team, Jim designed many of the most memorable trade show displays for the company, including the 14-foot neck and headstock. Jim also worked on many of the company’s best known marketing graphics and even redesigned the company logo.
Del Courtney was among the most popular Big Band leaders of the golden age of swing. Getting his start in the Al Hill Orchestra, Del soon found fame when he formed his own band at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Calif., in 1939. He established himself as "The Old Smoothie" and created a band ideal for hotel ballrooms.
David Cooper recalled, with a warm smile, when his father took him to his first NAMM Show. The Cooper Piano and Organ Store in Georgia began in 1905; therefore, David did not just grow up in the business--his life was always involved in music.
Clifford Cooper has always liked the color orange. So, when it was time to market his amplifiers, which he created mostly for his own use and for friends, he decided to use his favorite color. The Orange amplifier products are not only unique in looks, but are also known by musicians for the clear and consistent sound. Mr.
Dick Contino had a series of hit recordings and popular television appearances in the 1950s playing his trusty accordion. By the end of that decade, he was hired by M. H. Berlin at Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI) to introduce a string of innovative products. It was Dick who first introduced the Cordovox in the mid-60s, thanks to his friendship with Mr. Berlin.