NAMM Oral History Program

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The NAMM Oral History Program was created and is funded by NAMM, the International Association of Music Products. The program was approved by the NAMM board of directors in the years before the association, which is known for its yearly trade shows, was ready to celebrate the 100 anniversary of the organization. The first NAMM Oral History was conducted in April 2000 with former Gibson Guitar president Ted McCarty. McCarty signed Les Paul on to Gibson in the 1950s to lend his name to the now famous Gibson Les Paul Guitar. Paul was interviewed as part of the NAMM Oral History program back in 2008.


Over the years the collection sought to capture, archive and share the stories of those who have inspired people to make music! As a result, instrument creators such as Hartley Peavey and Remo Belli have been included as well as music retailers, music publishers and those who can fill in the history of the companies, products and people who shaped the industry such as musicians, composers, method book authors, factory workers and salesman of musical products.

Music industry pioneers that have been interviewed for the NAMM Oral History program include Bob Moog, Don Buchla, Henry Z. Steinway, Bob Taylor (luthier) and Ray Kurzweil.

The collection also includes music retailers and the history of such store chains as Sam Ash and Guitar Center as well as independent music stores around the world such as West Music and Newton Piano.

Among the musicians linked to the music industry and thus interviewed for this collection are those who designed an instrument, endorsed a product or wrote a method book that has inspired others to make music. These include B. B. King, Roy Clark, Joe Morello and Herbie Hancock.

The first interview to be donated to the collection was conducted in 1996 with jazzman Jonah Jones. Jones spoke of his relationship with King Musical Instruments as a product tester and endorser. He later played an F. E. Olds trumpet, which was featured on many recordings during his long career.

In the Spring of 2011 NAMM announced the completion of its 1,500th interview. Later that year Mr. and Mrs. Tom Lee of Tom Lee Music in Hong Kong were interviewed together, which was an important addition to the collection. During the NAMM Summer Show in Nashville in July 2011, music store owner George Gruhn was awarded the first NAMM Oral History Service Award for support that included arranging interviews and providing historic background. The second NAMM Oral History Service Award was presented to Hal Leonard Publishing CEO Keith Mardak for his decade long support to the program. With Mardak's help, interviews were completed with music publishers, songwriters, composers and music method book authors.


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