Oral History Information
Johnny Thompson had the distinction of being the very first music student of a young steel guitar player named Ernie ball. Back in the early 1950s, before he established a string company, Ernie was a well-known country player in and around the Los Angeles area and taught a few students for extra money. Studying under Ernie was key to Johnny’s career, as he became a close friend and mentor. In fact, he inspired Johnny to teach lessons on his own starting in 1959. The following year he established Johnny Thompson music in Monterey Park, California. Five years later he constructed his own building for the store, which became a musician’s hang out for decades. During the late 1960s and 70s Johnny became an early pioneer of sound equipment rentals and installation. One such band he arranged the sound for was Led Zeppelin. As an act of appreciation Robert Plant recorded a radio commercial stating “Whenever we are in California we come shop at Johnny Thompson Music.” All throughout his career as a retailer Johnny was devoted to the school market in his community, becoming an important force and playing a vital role in the lives of thousands of young musicians.