Archive for the ‘Gretsch Events’ Category

Fred & Dinah Attend Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Concert

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

On August 11, Fred and Dinah Gretsch, along with 18,000 highly-energized and eager fans, had the chance to attend the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Atlanta’s Phillips Arena.  With the equally legendary group–Crosby, Stills, & Nash–opening the show, it was guaranteed to be a night not soon forgotten.

Before the show Fred and Dinah had the opportunity to spend some time backstage visiting with members of both bands.  The Atlanta show followed a week-long break and Tom and the rest of the Heartbreakers seemed to be in good spirits as they prepared to kick off the third leg of their Mojo summer tour.

Mike Campbell on Stage

The Gretsches learned that Mike Campbell, the Heartbreakers’ lead guitarist and one of its original founding members, recently purchased a ‘56 Gretsch Nashville of which he’s reportedly very proud.  They were also delighted with the opportunity to visit with the Heartbreakers’ drummer, family friend, and Gretsch drum endorser, Steve Ferrone.

Fred with Steve Ferrone

This show was the first of several that rock legends CSN will be opening on the Mojo tour.  Gracious as always, Stephen, Graham, and David spent time catching up with the Gretsches and chatting about some of their instruments including, of course, their various Gretsch guitars.

After delivering their best wishes to all, it was on to the show.  Following an amazing 90-minute set by CSN, Tom and the Heartbreakers did not disappoint. “Tom Petty has reached the youth market again,” commented Dinah after seeing the large number of young fans in attendance. Thirty-four years and counting and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are still selling out shows.  With their earlier hits becoming popular with today’s youth, it appears their music will be transcending generations of music lovers for a long time to come.

Two legendary groups; one amazing evening of music.  It can’t get much better than that!

In Concert

Gretsches Honored By Savannah Folk Music Society

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Dinah and Fred Gretsch, owners of the Pooler, Georgia-based Gretsch Company, were surprised with a special presentation by the Savannah Folk Music Society this past July 2 at Savannah’s First Presbyterian Church. At a regular meeting of the Society’s “First Friday For Folk Music,” Dinah and Fred received a portrait of themselves that was specially commissioned by the Society. The portrait was created by Savannah artist Sandy Branam.

Gretsches Receive Portrait from the Savannah Folk Music Society

Society president Hank Weisman comments, “We’ve enjoyed a terrific relationship with Fred and Dinah Gretsch over the past eight years. Through their Gretsch Foundation they’ve been tremendously supportive of the Society’s programs. This includes the donation of guitars for our ‘Guitar Art’ program, in which local artists custom-decorate instruments that are then auctioned to raise funds. Other donated guitars are signed by major artists. All of these guitars are auctioned at the annual Savannah Folk Music Festival, which takes place each October. Over the past eight years the donations made by the Gretsch Foundation have generated more than $40,000 in supporting funds.

“Fred and Dinah have also helped to support our banjo assembly workshops,” Weisman continues. “Thanks to parts supplied by the Gretsch Company, we’ve sent at least seventy-five new banjo players out into the world.”

“The entire folk music scene in Savannah owes a great deal to Fred and Dinah Gretsch,” Weisman concludes. “The special portrait that the Savannah Folk Music Society commissioned is just a small expression of our gratitude.”

For more information on the Savannah Folk Music Society, go to www.savannahfolk.org.

Gretsch Drums & KMC Music Celebrate 10 Years Together

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

When two of the most important names in the musical instrument industry get together to celebrate, it’s sure to be a terrific party. Such was the case this past June 11 when the Gretsch Company hosted a celebration of ten years of partnership with KMC Music, Inc.  The Gretsch/KMC Music 10th Anniversary party was celebrated on the grounds of KMC Music’s headquarters in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

A talented trio called The Psychedelic ‘60s included two KMC Music employees, and anchored jam sessions featuring several more.

The event featured a lavish barbecue, games, and other activities for KMC employees, their families, and invited guests. Entertainment was provided by The Psychedelic ’60s, a trio led by guitarist (and KMC Music inside salesman) Martin Kelly, with KMC Music inside salesman Joe Mazza on drums. As the afternoon progressed, many talented members of the KMC Music staff sat in on drums. These included overall percussion products manager Ken Fredenberg, Gretsch drums product manager John Palmer, additional percussion products specialist Jim Stanek, inside salesperson Jeff Pyle, and customer service rep Jay Cole.

Watch the Band

Invited guests included John DiMugno, owner and president of Delmar Products, along with Delmar employees Don Mulligan and Doug O’Leary. Delmar makes the drum covering material used to create many of Gretsch’s most popular finishes. The two companies have done business together since 1962. The event was also attended by members of the music press, including Laurie Guptill and Randy Struckus from Musical Merchandise Review, as well as managing editor Rich Watson of The Music Trades.

Fred Gretsch, Grill Master

Fred Gretsch himself took a “hands-on” role in the festivities by donning a special 10th Anniversary BBQ apron embroidered with the title of “Fred Gretsch, Grill Master” and helping to prepare hot dogs and hamburgers for the dozens of hungry guests.

Among the highlights of the afternoon was a series of special presentations. After an introduction by new Gretsch business development manager Colin Schofield, Fred Gretsch offered comments about the Gretsch/KMC Music partnership. “When I first began to consider someone to help develop the Gretsch drum brand over a decade ago,” said Fred, “I knew that I had to find exactly the right type of organization in order for the idea to succeed. They’d need to have all the necessary expertise in the key areas of manufacturing, marketing, sales, and service in order for my hopes to be realized. KMC was always at the top of my list. And now, here we are, ten years later—celebrating the ‘rightness’ of that decision.”

Fred went on to acknowledge all of the members of the Gretsch and KMC Music teams who help to manufacture and market “the world’s finest drums to the world’s most discriminating drummers,” adding, “Family is important to us at Gretsch . . . and we consider everyone on the KMC team to be a cherished part of that family.”

Singled out for special mention were US Custom Shop production manager Paul Cooper, Gretsch drums manager John Palmer, artist relations manager Kim Graham, and all the members of the KMC Music sales, customer service, and shipping departments. In addition, Fred thanked his wife, Gretsch Company CFO Dinah Gretsch, for her “invaluable contributions to the success our company has enjoyed.”

Brigadier General Jeffrey Phillips (left) and his parents were honored guests of Fred and Dinah Gretsch.

Fred also acknowledged the presence of a personal friend and special guest: Brigadier General Jeffrey E. Phillips, deputy commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, just outside of Savannah, Georgia.  Said Fred, “General Phillips and I share a vision of the importance of music in our society. In a letter he wrote me recently, he said, ‘Our music helps define us. It reflects our diversity and freedom.’”

Fred and Dinah presented KMC Music senior vice president of sales & marketing Paul Damiano with a portrait of the Gretsch Company’s founders.

Following Fred’s comments, KMC Music senior vice president of sales & marketing Paul Damiano was called to the stage to receive gifts for KMC from the Gretsch family. These included a plaque commemorating the 10th Anniversary, as well as a framed portrait of past presidents of the Gretsch Company dating back to Friederich Gretsch, who founded the company in 1883. Current president Fred W. Gretsch represents the fourth generation of Gretsch drum builders.

A custom snare drum personalized with KMC employee signatures was presented to the Gretsches.

Commenting that “Gretsch isn’t the only one who knows how to give gifts,” Paul Damiano returned the favor by presenting Fred and Dinah with two unique items for the Gretsch museum in Pooler, Georgia. The first was a one-of-a-kind Gretsch USA Custom 10th Anniversary drumkit created in the company’s Ridgeland, South Carolina factory. The second was a custom snare drum personalized with the signatures of all KMC Music employees involved in the creation, marketing, and sale of Gretsch drums.

Following the presentations, Dinah Gretsch cut a cake emblazoned with the event logo, offering everyone a piece and commenting that “It’s a sugar-free cake, so it’s also guilt-free.”

Not only was cake provided for all in attendance, but so were personalized souvenir bags for each KMC employee and his or her family. The bags contained logoed aprons, T-shirts, and candy. KMC Music percussion brands manager Ken Fredenberg commented, “The barbecue was a great time. Fred and Dinah really know how to throw a party. We all enjoyed a great spread of food, fun and games for the kids, and terrific music. I think everyone at KMC feels a part of the great Gretsch team, and we’re proud to have been involved with the Gretsch project for the last ten years.”

Additional Information and Commentary on the Gretsch/KMC Music Partnership

Gretsch is America’s oldest and most prestigious drum manufacturer, with a rich musical history that spans more than 125 years. Long the choice of such jazz masters as Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, and Max Roach, Gretsch drums are currently favored by artists in a variety of musical styles, including Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting), Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz), Stephen Ferrone (Tom Petty), and Bill Stewart (contemporary jazz great). The Gretsch Company is based in the Savannah suburb of Pooler, Georgia.

KMC Music, Inc. is the nation’s largest distributor of musical instruments, including exclusive marketing and distribution of Gretsch drums. The company is headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

KMC Music and Gretsch formed their partnership in 1990. Commenting on that partnership, Fred Gretsch says, “When I first began to consider a business partner for the Gretsch drum brand over a decade ago, I knew that they would need to have all the necessary expertise in the key areas of manufacturing, marketing, sales, and service for my expectations to be achieved. I decided that I would proceed only if a partnership with such an organization could be realized.

 ”KMC Music’s extensive overseas manufacturing capabilities and resources have enabled high-quality Gretsch instruments to be offered in the entry-level and mid-priced price categories. It has also enabled greater product selection and more setup and finish options than ever before. Their contemporary drumset designs have set new quality standards in the industry at all price points. In addition, continued operation of the fabled Gretsch drum factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina has ensured that high-end professional Gretsch drums are still hand-crafted in the USA to our exacting standards. Working together, our active product development initiatives, continued innovation and on-going product improvements will make sure that Gretsch stays at the forefront of contemporary drum design.”

Fred goes on to say, “KMC Music’s team of over twenty-five highly professional sales reps ensures that retailers in every region of the country are visited and receive individual attention. In addition, each rep is backed by an in-house support team, thus ensuring that each retailer receives the highest possible level of service. In the international marketplace, KMC’s established international distribution network has enabled a new level of penetration in to overseas markets. Gretsch drums are now readily available in more countries around the world than ever before.”

“KMC has a long-term, demonstrated commitment to being an industry service leader,” Fred concludes. “Their distribution, warehouse and logistics capabilities are broadly acknowledged as the very best in the industry. Their professional customer service team ensures fast, friendly support for both retailers and consumers, and their state-of-the-art inventory management systems ensure ready product availability and minimal lead times for add-on drums and special orders. Importantly, KMC operates a dedicated spare parts and service department to ensure that all end-users are offered efficient spare parts service and support. The effective supply and service of spare parts is so very essential in the drum industry; this has certainly been one of the key factors in our success.”

Gretsch Company CFO Dinah Gretsch adds, “KMC Music has its own impressive history of developing product lines, as well as a highly regarded reputation for building and managing successful brands. This was important to us as we evaluated potential partners, because it was essential that they would understand and be sensitive to the very special history and legacy of the Gretsch drum brand. Given their already comprehensive knowledge of the drum market, KMC was uniquely qualified to partner with us. Their skilled marketing team develops and deploys very effective and innovative advertising and promotional programs. I also enjoy working with their artist relations managers to ensure that all Gretsch endorsers receive world-class service and support.”

Speaking from the KMC Music perspective, Gretsch Drums product manager John Palmer says, “We’re very pleased to celebrate our ten-year anniversary of distributing Gretsch drums on a worldwide basis. Gretsch drums enjoy a unique, colorful, and respected place among the great American drum brands, and we’re proud to expand on this tradition. We’re thrilled to be able to embellish on the Gretsch legacy by making improvements, where possible, at the USA Custom factory, in addition to continuing to expand our overall drum offering. We are committed to building on the Gretsch legacy by continuing to provide all drummers with superior-sounding Gretsch drums to inspire the maximum drumming experience.”

Finally, KMC Music senior vice president for sales & marketing Paul Damiano adds, “We at KMC Music are obviously very pleased with and proud of our Gretsch drum business. Ten years ago, it was our strategic objective to solidify our position in the drumset market so that we would have a firm foundation on which to build our percussion business. The strong market acceptance of Gretsch drums gave us the confidence to build on that success with the addition of Latin Percussion and Sabian cymbals. As those brands began to flourish, the rest of our percussion accessory business also began to flourish, including Remo and Evans drumheads, and Vic Firth sticks and educational percussion. Today, KMC Music is a ‘destination’ supplier for any serious drum shop in the USA! And we owe that status in large part to our partnership with Gretsch.”

For more information on the history of the Gretsch Company, visit www.gretsch.com. For more information on Gretsch drums, visit www.gretschdrums.com. For more information on KMC Music and its various brands, visit www.kmcmusic.com.

All photos by John Giammatteo.

Neil Young Signed Gretsch Guitar Being Auctioned

Monday, June 21st, 2010

A Gretsch 7953 White Falcon guitar personally autographed by rock icon Neil Young will be a featured item in a charity auction to be held at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on June 25. The auction will be conducted by Julien’s Auctions, the nation’s premier entertainment and celebrity auction specialist, following a public exhibition running from Monday, June 14 through Thursday, June 24.

Neil Young Signed Gretsch Falcon

Neil Young was recently named 2010 MusiCares Person of the Year, and he signed the guitar at the event held in his honor. The guitar was donated for the occasion by The Gretsch Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gretsch Family. It features a white-gloss laminated-maple hollow body with single cutaway and double f-sound holes, a V-shaped Falcon headstock, an ebony twenty-two fret fingerboard, a gold plexi pickguard, a Bigsby® vibrato tailpiece, and 24-karat gold-plated hardware.

Persons desiring to bid on the Gretsch Neil Young Signed Falcon Guitar must register, either in person at the exhibitions and auction, or by visiting www.juliensauctions.com before the sale, or by calling (310) 836-1818. Bidding may be done in four ways: in the room at the live auction, over the telephone through an auction house representative in the room, through Julien’s Auctions Online Live in real time at www.juliensauctions.com, or via absentee bids.

Fittingly, proceeds from the sale of this guitar will benefit MusiCares, a program established in 1989 by The Recording Academy to provide a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical, and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. For more information, visit www.musicares.com.

GretschGear at 2010 Summer NAMM!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The 2010 Summer NAMM show is taking place this weekend, June 18 to 20, in the great city of Nashville. What had previously been an industry-only trade show is being shaken up a bit this year. Earlier this month NAMM announced that Sunday, June 20 will be “Wanna Play Music Sunday”. Wanna Play Music Sunday will not only open the show doors to the public, but also host events including a Vintage Guitar Road Show and an All Star Celebrity Jam. The Celebrity Jam Concert will feature former Governor Mike Huckabee, Aaron Tippin, Louise Mandrell and many others. The Vintage Guitar Road Show will offer appraisals as well as a fine collection of vintage gear. For more information on the NAMM show and “Wanna Play Music Sunday” visit http://www.namm.org/wannaplaysunday.

GretschGear and Bigsby at NAMM

While on the show floor make sure to stop by Booth 700 and check out GretschGear as well as Bigsby Vibratos. We’ll be there with an extensive array of products and accessories. Stop by and check it out!

Gretsch Springs A Birthday Surprise

Friday, May 21st, 2010

A surprise birthday party is always nice. But when the surprise comes from your colleagues at work–and the person whose name is on the drums you make–it’s even more special.

Harry Dailey received such a surprise recently on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, when he was presented with a cake by Fred Gretsch and the production team at the Gretsch USA factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Harry and his co-workers are continuing the long history of hand-crafted quality represented by Gretsch USA Custom drums.

Fred Gretsch Presents Harry Dailey with a Cake

Harry Dailey has been helping to create Gretsch drums for over twenty years, having started at the Ridgeland factory in March of 1990. He began as a buffer, and he’s worked in several different production areas since. Today, Harry handles the critical drilling operation, as well as working in the final assembly area where finished drums are ultimately created. 

Harry’s experience at the Gretsch USA factory has allowed him to interact with many great Gretsch drum artists. Says Fred Gretsch, “Over the years, Harry has met with Vinnie Colaiuta, Stephen Ferrone, Bill Stewart, Harvey Mason, Cindy Blackman, and many others from our great roster of drum stars. Those drummers have always enjoyed their conversations with Harry. He’s a soft-spoken guy, but he knows his drums. We’re proud to have a craftsman like Harry on the Gretsch production team.”

The Gretsch Company has been manufacturing the world’s greatest drums since 1883. For more information on Gretsch drums and company history, go to www.gretschdrums.com.

The World and Gretsch Came Together in Frankfurt

Monday, April 19th, 2010

In addition to the outstanding combo display of Gretsch Guitars and Drums, Bigsby was in Frankfurt in a big way this year.

The old saying goes that “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Apparently, that goes for guitar vibratos too.

Bigsby Vibratos Were Seen on a Host of Different Manufacturer's Guitars

When the musical instrument world came together at the 2010 Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany this past March, Bigsby vibratos were displayed on no fewer than 108 guitar models from twenty-seven different manufacturers. These included major names like Gretsch, Gibson, Schecter, and Hofner, as well as specialty lines like TV Jones, Collings, and LTD. A special highlight was the exhibit of Germany’s Warwick guitars, which featured what may be the largest graphic image of a Bigsby vibrato ever put on display.

This record showing at the Frankfurt Messe reflects the respect and regard that guitarists and guitar makers have felt for Bigsby vibratos ever since Paul A. Bigsby designed his now-legendary tailpieces in the mid-1940s. They were the “better mousetrap” that revolutionized guitar sounds, and the world has been beating a path to Bigsby ever since. Today, that path leads to ten different vibrato models designed to fit virtually any size or style of electric guitar.

Biggest Bigsby Vibrato Display Seen to Date

Get on the path yourself, and hear for yourself what the guitar world regards as the finest vibrato available. Visit your Bigsby dealer, or go to http://www.bigsby.com.

And don’t forget to check out the lastest in Gretsch Guitar products at http://www.gretschguitars.com and Gretsch Drum products at http://www.gretschdrums.com.

Read Expanded NAMM Show Coverage

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The 2010 NAMM musical instrument show was held this past January 14 through 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. This annual event, sponsored by the International Music Products Association, is America’s largest trade show for the showcasing of musical instruments and accessories.

Gretsch Drums On Display

Gretsch Drums had plenty of great new gear to showcase at this year’s NAMM show. Here are just a few highlights:

US Custom Kits

Gretsch 2010 Ltd Ed USA Custom Black & Silver

Gretsch 2010 Ltd Ed USA Custom Black and Silver (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Two new Limited Edition USA Custom kits headed up the new-product introductions. One featured an 18×22 bass drum, 8×10 and 9×10 toms, a 16×16 floor tom, and a 6½x14 ten-lug snare—each with a black lacquer finish and silver-sparkle inlays. The other featured a 14×18 bass drum, an 8×12 tom, a 14×14 floor tom, and a 5½ x14 eight-lug snare—all in a classy white finish with a gold sparkle inlays and gold-plated hardware. Each configuration will be limited to thirty total kits worldwide.

New Renown Maple Finish

Gretsch Renown Maple Ruby Sparkle Fade

Gretsch Renown Maple Ruby Sparkle Fade (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The Gretsch Renown Maple series now offers a striking new finish called Ruby Sparkle Fade. It features mixed-size sparkle flakes that catch and reflect light differently so as to give the finish extra depth and richness. Three sizes of flakes are carefully applied in descending size—large to medium to small. Then each drum is hand-sprayed with a customized ruby red-to-ebony black fade paint. A highly detailed, multi-step lacquering process provides the final touch for a gleaming finish.

Stanton Moore Signature Snare

Stantion Moore Signature Snare

Stanton Moore Signature Snare (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch artist Stanton Moore has developed a reputation for his distinctive blend of New Orleans-influenced funky snare-drum grooves. Now Gretsch has collaborated with Stanton to create a snare drum that projects that swampy, nuanced style. The Stanton Moore Signature snare features a single-ply solid-maple shell with reinforcement hoops, thirty-degree bearing edges, eight tuning lugs, a Dunnett throw-off, 42-strand snares, and a gloss natural finish emblazoned with Stanton’s signature. The drum is designed to provide quick response, varying timbres, and a distinctive overall tonality.

Fred And Dinah Gretsch Meet The CoverBand 2010 Drum Winner

A special treat for Fred and Dinah Gretsch was the opportunity to congratulate Didi Negron of Northampton, Pennsylvania, who was the winning drummer in the CoverBand 2010 contest presented by Musician’s Friend and Latin Percussion. Gretsch Drums was a contributing sponsor for the online competition.

CoverBand 2010 Winner Didi Negron

CoverBand 2010 Winning Drummer Didi Negron (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The contest invited individual musicians and vocalists to upload a two-minute video to coverband2010.com between July 15 and September 15 of last year. A general-public vote determined the finalists. A panel of celebrity judges then selected the winners.

A trip to Anaheim to perform at the NAMM show was part of the prize for the seven winning CoverBand members. For twenty-three-year-old Didi Negron, that was just part of the thrill. She also received a brand-new Gretsch Catalina Ash drumkit, along with the chance to meet Fred and Dinah Gretsch personally. (Didi’s prize package also included Sabian HHX cymbals and a Gibraltar Stealth rack system.)

Dinah Gretsch was particularly pleased to meet Didi, since female participation in music is an issue that’s near and dear to Dinah’s heart. When Dinah asked Didi how she came to be a drummer, Didi replied, “I grew up with music in my family. My dad plays guitar and bass, and there was a lot of music in our church. When I was around eight I started playing along to records. I developed rudimental drumming skills when I was in my school marching band. When I was a teenager I started playing drumset and percussion, and things just went from there.”

Things went pretty far, as a matter of fact. Didi’s self-taught drumming skills were impressive enough to earn a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston. Now in her second year, she’s studying with such well-known drummers as Ralph Peterson, Terri-Lyne Carrington, Dave DiCenso, and Eddie Castillo. Not surprisingly, Didi’s goal is to become a professional drummer/percussionist. “It’s all I’ve ever really thought about,” she said.

Didi’s entry for the CoverBand 2010 contest displayed the influence of her Berklee instructors, along with a substantial amount of her own talent and originality. Her two-minute video was a mix of Latin, pop, and fusion-esque styles that burned and grooved at the same time. “I love to solo,” said Didi, “but I love a pocket, too. So for my contest entry I decided to show the groove . . . show the chops . . . just do it all!”

Stephen Ferrone & Gretsch Drums In Concert

An annual highlight of the NAMM show is an after-hours concert called Sabian Live!, presented by the Sabian Cymbal Company (and co-sponsored by Gretsch Drums). This year’s event opened and closed with Gretsch artists.

Sabian Live! Drummer    Photo by Rick Van Horn

Sabian Live! Drummer (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The opening act was a band of teenage musicians from the Little Kids Rock music-education program. Their performance was powered by a young drummer playing on a Gretsch Catalina Ash kit. What the band lacked in experience they made up for in enthusiasm, and their two-song set was well received by the audience.

At the absolute opposite of the experience scale was the evening’s closer: Stephen Ferrone & The Master Volume All-Stars. Made up of the cream of LA’s studio scene, the band was anchored by its namesake drummer, whose credits include the Average White Band, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and hundreds of studio projects.

Stephen Ferrone  (Photo by Jules Follett)

Stephen Ferrone (Photo by Jules Follett)

The evening’s audience was treated to a widely varying repertoire that included songs from all of Ferrone’s previous groups, as well as tunes by guest artists. These included “You Need a Man” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” led by surprise guest Jimmy Messina. The evening closed with a spirited rendition of “Man in The Mirror,” in tribute to Michael Jackson. Throughout the entire set Stephen Ferrone provided his legendary combination of groove, drive, and taste.

Gretsch Guitars Launches The Eddie Cochran Tribute Model

Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute Guitar (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute Guitar (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch Guitars is famous for maintaining the highest standards of contemporary quality while still honoring the musical contributions made by great artists of the past. In keeping with that tradition, Gretsch Guitars debuted the Eddie Cochran Tribute model at this year’s NAMM show.

Eddie Cochran was a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll. Starting out in country music in the early 1950s, he quickly gravitated toward the music being popularized by Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. In short order he became a contemporary of those stars, appearing in concerts and films throughout the mid to late ’50s. But besides being a talented vocalist, Cochran’s skill as a guitarist set him apart, and it earned him a place as one of Gretsch’s first rock ‘n’ roll endorsing artists.

Cochran was also a talented songwriter, and his teen-angst classic “Summertime Blues” has been covered by hundreds of artists including The Who and Blue Cheer. Tragically, his career was cut short by an auto accident in London on April 17, 1960. Eddie was only twenty-one.

Eddie Cochran Tribute Display

Eddie Cochran Tribute Display (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The NAMM launch of the Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute guitar was accompanied by an extensive historic display featuring photos, records, and other memorabilia from Eddie’s meteoric career. Additionally, Fred Gretsch was on hand to underscore the personal connection between Gretsch Guitars and Eddie Cochran’s legacy.

2010 Gretsch Showcase

The Eddie Cochran Tribute guitar launch was celebrated with a pre-NAMM performance at the Gretsch Guitars booth on Wednesday, January 13. Bobby Cochran—Eddie’s nephew and a fine guitarist in his own right—was backed by Gretsch artist Paul Pigat and his band Uncle Harley on a rendition of Eddie’s classic “Summertime Blues” that delighted the specially invited audience. Meanwhile, models strutted at the foot of the stage displaying Gretsch’s iconic new G6120 guitars.

Paul Pigat

Paul Pigat

Wednesday’s performance kicked off the 2010 Gretsch Showcase. Throughout the NAMM show weekend a roster of stellar Gretsch artists entertained showgoers while demonstrating the unique sound and features of Gretsch guitars. Besides Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, the lineup featured rockabilly artists including Brophy Dale, Mad Max & the Wild Ones, the Hot Rod Trio, and Buzz Campbell & Hot Rod Lincoln. In addition, Lynda Kay brought her Americana roots style country music to the Gretsch booth, while rock guitar legend Steve Hunter & The Hurricanes proved that you can play blues on a Gretsch guitar.

Civet

Civet

On Friday the 15th the self-described “femme fatale punk rock” quartet Civet strutted their stuff. Friday’s Showcase was also notable for an appearance by Dhani Harrison playing a G6129T-1957 Silver Jet onstage during a performance by thenewno2’s. Dhani is the talented son of legendary Beatle and solo artist George Harrison, who helped Gretsch sell a ton of Duo Jet, Tennesseean, and Country Gentleman guitars.

Tim Armstrong

Tim Armstrong

Punk-rock mainstays Rancid rocked the booth on Saturday the 16th in front of a crowd that was so big it drew the attention of the fire marshal. Rancid’s performance also served to showcase the debut of guitarist/lead singer Tim Armstrong’s new Signature G5191BK Electromatic hollow-body guitar. It’s designed after the 1971 Country Club model that Armstrong has favored for decades. When asked what he particularly loved about his new Signature model, Armstrong replied, “The simplest way for me to explain it is that the sound is full-bodied and thick. I hear the chords as if I’m playing a piano.”

Special Appearances

In addition to the musical performances that highlighted the 2010 Gretsch Showcase, the Gretsch booth featured appearances by several notable individuals. Perhaps the most eye-catching of these was Great Gretsch Girl Kim Falcon, who was on hand to greet visitors and sign autographs throughout the NAMM weekend.

On Saturday the Gretsch booth was graced by a visit from twangy-guitar pioneer and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Duane Eddy. Duane and his wife Deed were hosted at the booth by Fred Gretsch himself, who enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with this musical icon.

For more information and detailed coverage, go to the “News” section of www.gretschguitars.com.