Gretsch Announces Two-Year Founder Celebration

January 1, 2005

Gretsch Celebrates 100th, 125th & 150th Birthdays of Early Founders/Presidents

Gretsch The Fred Gretsch Musical Instrument Company proudly announces a two-year long celebration commemorating the births of its first three founding fathers/presidents. Gretsch will spend 2005 & 2006 paying homage to three forefathers of not only Gretsch but to the entire music industry.

Music lovers are invited to join Gretsch in celebrating the birth anniversaries of its first three presidents. The year 2005 marks the 125th birth anniversary of Fred Gretsch Sr. and the 100th birth anniversary of Fred Gretsch Jr. The year 2006 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Immigrant Founder Friedrich Gretsch.

The Georgia Music Hall of Fame will host an official Gala Event and Exhibit on March 10, 2005 to honor these three former Gretsch Presidents and kickoff Gretsch’s celebration events. The affair will take place at 7 p.m. and feature the unveiling of a specially designed, permanent Gretsch exhibit of instruments, history and memorabilia, as well as feature special guest appearances and presentations. Long-time Gretsch artists and friends Bo Diddley & Vinnie Colaiuta are slated to perform.

The Exhibit and Gala will be themed around Gretsch Artist Associations and feature newly added instruments and memorabilia contributed by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Randy Bachman of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Other events planned include special NAMM celebrations at the January and July trade shows as well as regional and local observations to be announced throughout the next 2 years. Along with these many events, a special tribute will also be made regarding Charlotte Sommer Gretsch, wife of Fred Gretsch Sr. The year 2005 will also mark the 125th anniversary of her birth.

Born in 1856, Friedrich Gretsch emigrated from Germany to found the Gretsch Company in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. The company initially manufactured not only drums and guitars but banjos, tambourines & mandolins. Friedrich Gretsch joined with America’s industrial age forefathers in building a new America after the Civil War. Friedrich died suddenly at the age of 39 while on a trip back to his boyhood home in Manheim, Germany.

Born in 1880, Fred Gretsch Sr. was thrust into the musical instrument business at the young age of 15 in 1895 upon the sudden death of his father, Friedrich. With the support of his mother from home and with younger brothers Louie and Walter later joining him, it just took a few short years before Fred Sr. had built Fred. Gretsch Mfg. Co., “The House of Gretsch,” into one of the largest musical instrument manufacturers and importers in the world. Fred Sr. invented the first “warp free” drum hoop and built the 10-story “Gretsch” Building at 60 Broadway that still stands today as a Brooklyn icon.

Born in 1905, Fred Gretsch Jr. entered the business in 1926 upon his graduation from Cornell University and quickly became an industry leader in creative business management. A National Music Merchandisers Association Treasurer and President, Fred Jr. was a decorated World War II Naval Officer. He led Gretsch in many facets, from innovator to president, for over 50 years. Growing up in the Gretsch business, it was after the war when Fred Jr. transformed the predominantly wholesale and manufacturing business into a professional drum and guitar company. Attracting such artists as Chet Atkins, Max Roach, Art Blakey & Tony Williams, Fred Jr. led Gretsch through its Golden Era in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Gretsch invites all friends, family and industry comrades to join with them in their years-long tribute.

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