Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Watts’

Gretsch: 130 Years and Four Generations . . .

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

An Excerpt From The Savannah Morning News:

Gretsch: 130 years and four generations of strummin’ and drummin’

The small forest of guitars is tucked into what Fred W. Gretsch calls his “studio.”

To anybody who can play even a few chords, it’s more a Shangri-la.

Colorfully decorated Gretsch Super Axes flank richly wooded acoustic guitars and stylish Thunderbirds. Renowned Chet Atkins models dot the rows.

One instrument in particular garners Gretsch’s attention. The banjo is perhaps the most unassuming of the lot. The strings and head reflect its great age — it is a 1920s model — and the aluminum rim doesn’t shine like the metal parts of its peers in the collection.

But to Gretsch, the instrument signifies what has sustained his family’s business for 130 years.

Innovation and dedication.

“We started using aluminum for banjo rims in the 1920s, and the advances we made from there we drew on in building drums in the 1930s and 1940s,” Gretsch said. “What we learned from drums we put into practice at the dawn of the rock and roll era in the 1950s and on and on. We are a company that’s consistently built on its past.”

The company is celebrating that history this year. Gretsch is the fourth generation of his family to head the Pooler-based business since his great-grandfather, German immigrant Friedrich Gretsch, opened a small music shop in Brooklyn in 1883.

The original shop specialized in banjos, drums and tambourines. The company grew as the accordion and other band instruments gained popularity in the first half of the 1900s. Rock and roll guitars and drums made Gretsch a household name starting in the 1950s.

Fred Gretsch expects the company to thrive for several more generations and continue to be renowned for the “great Gretsch sound” made famous by music legends such as Chet Atkins, George Harrison, Charlie Watts, Davy Jones, Bono, Bo Diddley and Brian Setzer.

“Antonio Stradivarius also made amazing stringed instruments and led a prosperous life,” Gretsch said of the famed violin maker. “But his family did not benefit from his name and his designs. I want to ensure that the Gretsch family remains a key part of this company for the next 100 years of business.”

See Photos and Read the Entire Article at SavannahNow.com.


TIMELINE – 130 YEARS OF THAT GREAT GRETSCH SOUND!

1883 Friedrich Gretsch, 27, who emigrated from Germany at 16, opens a small music shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., making banjos, drums, and tambourines.

1883 - Friedrich Gretsch Opens Small Music Shop in Brooklyn.

1895 Friedrich Gretsch becomes ill while traveling in Germany and dies at age 39. Fifteen-year-old son, Fred Gretsch, Sr., takes over family business.

1916 Company moves to 10-story building at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn, N.Y.

1916 - Gretsch Opens Ten-Story Building at 60 Broadway, Brooklyn (sketch).

1918 Fred Gretsch, Sr. develops revolutionary multi-ply drum lamination process resulting in the world’s first “warp free” drum hoop.

1920 Gretsch’s manufacturing facility expands to become the world’s largest music instrument manufacturing factory.

1927 Company introduces historic Gretsch-American drum series, featuring the industry’s first multi ply drum shell. Gretsch uses its own name on guitars for the first time, rather than just selling to wholesalers.

1935 Broadkaster drum line introduced. Duke Kramer begins his 70-year career at Gretsch. Known as “Mr. Guitar Man,” Kramer would become pivotal in making Gretsch® electric guitars what they are today.

"Mr. Guitar Man" Duke Kramer

1937 Historic partnership with master drummer and inventor Billy Gladstone begins. The Gretsch-Gladstone drum line is introduced.

1939 Gretsch introduces its first electric guitar – the Electromatic – and the Synchromatic archtop guitar series. Jimmie Webster, guitar innovator and player, joins Gretsch. Distinctive triangle sound hole appears on Gretsch acoustic guitars.

1942 Fred Gretsch, Sr. retires from the company, leaving the day-to-day operations to his sons, Fred Gretsch, Jr. and William “Bill” Gretsch, both of whom had been active in the business since 1927. Gretsch stops instrument production to assist in war efforts. After a brief term at the company’s helm, Fred Gretsch, Jr. leaves the company to serve as a commander in the U.S. Navy. Bill Gretsch becomes president.

William "Bill" Gretsch and Fred Gretsch, Jr. pictured with Brother Richard Gretsch.

1946 Gretsch resumes instrument production. Phil Grant, master percussionist and innovator, joins Gretsch. Gretsch and Louis Bellson team up to introduce first production double bass drum kit.

Louie Bellson with his 1946 double bass kit.

1947 Gretsch forges relationship with legendary Birdland Jazz Club in New York, N.Y.

1948 Bill Gretsch dies from illness. Fred Gretsch, Jr. assumes control of the business, kicking off a new age of prosperity for the company–the age of rock ‘n’ roll.

1951 First cutaway bodies appear on Electromatic and new Electro II guitar models.

1953 Duo-Jet production starts, sparking the entire Jet line of Gretsch solid-body guitars.

1954 Jimmie Webster strikes a deal with guitarist Chet Atkins to develop a Chet Atkins-designed Gretsch guitar. Gretsch begins its eye-catching “color revolution” by introducing sparkling Silver Jet and famous Western Orange, Cadillac Green and Jaguar Tan finishes. First Bigsby® vibratos offered on Gretsch electrics.

1955 Gretsch introduces White Falcon and 6120 Chet Atkins models.

Gretsch White Falcon

1957 Gretsch begins production of Chet Atkins Country Gentleman guitar model. The model would soon rise to popularity with other legendary guitarists.  Twang is born: Duane Eddy purchases new 6120 at Ziggie’s Accordion & Guitar Studio in Phoenix, AZ.

The King of Twang Duane Eddy

1959 Project-O-Sonic stereo guitar system introduced. Gretsch builds Bo Diddley his futuristic Jupiter Thunderbird guitar. Gretsch drum endorsee Jimmy Cobb records “Kind of Blue” with Miles Davis.

1960 George Harrison buys a used ‘57 Gretsch Duo Jet, the guitar featured during The Beatles’ earliest recordings and tours. “Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland” is recorded by four legendary Gretsch drum endorsees: Art Blakey, Charlie Persip, Elvin Jones and “Philly” Joe Jones.

Harrison Tribute Duo Jet

1962 Double-cutaway Electrotone thinline series introduced.

1964 “Beatlemania” is born on The Ed Sullivan Show. George Harrison’s use of a Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman guitar ignites frenzy among aspiring guitarists.

1965 George Harrison adds a Gretsch Tennessean to his guitar collection.

1967 Fred Gretsch, Jr. retires and sells The Gretsch Company to Baldwin Music Company. His nephew, Fred W. Gretsch, vows to buy the company back.

1969 The Rolling Stones tour the U.S. with Charlie Watts playing Gretsch drums.

1970 Baldwin moves Gretsch drum & guitar production to Booneville, Ark.

1972 Baldwin moves Gretsch’s New York business offices to Chicago. Chet Atkins’ “Super Chet” guitar introduced.

1973 Baldwin signs over production duties to Bill Hagner and his newly formed Hagner Musical Instrument Corp. Two major fires damage Arkansas guitar & drum plant.

1977 Chet Atkins’ “Super Axe” guitars introduced.

1978 Gretsch drum & guitar production reverts from Bill Hagner back to Baldwin.

1979 Baldwin moves Gretsch sales and administration offices to Chanute, Kansas.

1980 An attempt by Baldwin to re-launch guitar production in Juarez, Mexico fails after only a handful of guitars are built. Baldwin shuts down Gretsch guitar production.

1982 Rockabilly returns with Gretsch guitar slinger Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats releasing their first U.S. single, “Rock This Town.” The group also features Slim Jim Phantom on Gretsch drums.

1985 Eighteen years after the company was sold to Baldwin, Fred W. Gretsch, great-grandson of the company founder, fulfills his promise to buy the company back and return it to the family fold. Gretsch establishes drum manufacturing center in Ridgeland, S.C.

1988 George Harrison collaborates with Gretsch to produce the unique Traveling Wilburys collector guitar.

1989 Modern Gretsch guitar production begins in earnest. Gretsch introduces professional line of Gretsch electric and acoustic guitars.

1993 Gretsch begins production of Brian Setzer signature guitar model.

Setzer Signature Guitars

1998 Gretsch announces budget-priced “Electromatic,” “Synchromatic,” and “Historic” guitar lines.

1999 Gretsch purchases Bigsby Accessories from owner and former Gibson CEO Ted McCarty. Bo Diddley signature rectangular guitar re-introduced.

1999 - Gretsch Acquires Bigsby

2000 Kaman Music (KMCMusicorp) becomes exclusive Gretsch Drums worldwide distributor.

2002 Gretsch grants Fender Musical Instruments Corporation exclusive rights to develop, produce, market, and distribute Gretsch Guitars worldwide.

2006 Gretsch teams up with legendary Bo Diddley and Billy F. Gibbons to design the “Billy-Bo” Jupiter Thunderbird guitar. Stephen Ferrone signature series drums introduced.

2007 Chet Atkins’ name once again adorns extensive line of Gretsch electric guitars.

2008 Gretsch celebrates 125th anniversary.  Endows scholarship at Berklee College of Music in honor of Jimmie Webster.

For Gretsch's 125th Anniversary in 2008, a Portrait of Four Past Presidents was Commissioned. Artist: Amy Hahn-Lind.

2011 Gretsch introduces George Harrison Duo Jet tribute guitar. Chet Atkins Exhibit opens at The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum.

Chet Atkins Exhibition

2012 New Brooklyn drum series, Rancher Acoustics, and Roots Collection introduced.

2013 Gretsch celebrates 130th Anniversary.  Iconic Round Badge returns to Gretsch Drums.

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Music Icons Meet In Brooklyn

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Charlie Watts and Fred Gretsch Celebrate Each Other’s Anniversaries

This past December 8 saw a unique meeting between two icons of the music industry—both of whom were celebrating very special anniversaries.

Legendary drummer Charlie Watts was performing at the brand-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The seventy-one-year-old Watts and his compatriots in the Rolling Stones were celebrating their fiftieth anniversary as “the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.”

Fred W. Gretsch and his wife Dinah attended the Stones concert as a way to celebrate two anniversaries of their own: fifty years of association with Charlie Watts as a Gretsch drums endorser, and Gretsch’s 130th anniversary as a musical instrument manufacturer, which the company will mark in 2013.

The location of the meeting held a special poignancy for Fred and Charlie both, since the Barclays Center is only a short distance away from the original Gretsch factory at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn. As a boy, Fred spent many a summer there working for his uncle, Fred Gretsch Jr. And it was in that very factory that the drumkits used by Charlie in his early career with the Stones were built. (The program for the Barclays Center show, titled 50 & Counting: The Rolling Stones Live included thanks from Charlie to Gretsch Drums and to Fred Gretsch.)

Fred Gretsch and Charlie Watts backstage.

At the Brooklyn show Fred and Dinah had a chance to visit backstage with Charlie, and to exchange reminiscences about Charlie’s long and storied career on Gretsch drums. This was their second meeting this year; they’d gotten together this past March when Fred and Dinah were vacationing in Europe and Charlie was performing in Vienna, Austria with an eclectic group called The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie.

While backstage at the Barclays Center Fred and Dinah also chatted with Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell. This was another reunion of sorts; they had connected in 2008 when Chuck served as the musical director and bandleader for the Gretsch Big Event. That was a concert held at New York City’s Highline Ballroom to celebrate Gretsch’s 125th anniversary.

The Stones’ “50 & Counting” mini-tour started in November with two shows at London’s O2 arena. The show at the Barclays Center was the first on the US leg—and their first in the US since 2006. It is scheduled to be followed by performances at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on December 13 and 15. But another, very special appearance was added to their agenda: the 12/12/12 benefit concert at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden. On that show the band will be joined by such stellar artists as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, and The Who to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Charlie Watts Will Boogie Down In New York This Weekend

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

New York City music fans, you’re in for a treat!  Great Gretsch drummer Charlie Watts is coming to town with the unique jazz instrumental group The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie. The band gets its moniker from the first-name initials of its members: pianists Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters, drummer Charlie Watts, and bassist Dave Green.

The band will be appearing Thursday, June 28 at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center, in Damrosch Park, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza. Ticket info is available at  www.midsummernightswing.org and www.lincolncenter.org. They’ll then do a four-night stand at New York’s famed Iridium jazz club, running from Friday, June 29 through Monday, July 2, with two shows each night. The Iridium is at 1650 Broadway (at 51st Street). Ticket info for the shows there is available by phone at   (212) 582-2121, or at www.theiridium.com.

Boogie woogie music has been fascinating audiences with its youthful freshness for more than 100 years, making it uniquely appealing to new generations of enthusiastic musicians. But there’s more to it than that: Boogie woogie is one of the most important roots of modern popular music—especially rock ‘n’ roll. Charlie Watts himself has mentioned boogie woogie as a foundation of the Rolling Stones’ music.

Alex Zwingenberger is the key figure of the boogie woogie revival. He and his bandmates toured Europe this past March. They played several dates in Germany and in Austria, along with a memorable show at London’s Pizza Express Soho. Regarding that show, Times critic Clive Davis raved, “Jazz lover Charlie Watts looked more than happy to be sandwiched between the pianos of his old friend (and German boogiemeister) Axel Zwingenberger and our own Ben Waters. Watts has rightly won praise for his previous forays into bebop, but the visceral roar of a boogie-woogie riff is even more intoxicating.”

Charlie Watts with Fred Gretsch in Vienna

My wife Dinah and I had the great pleasure of visiting with Charlie and the band prior to one of their performances at the Weiner Metropole in Vienna. Charlie and I chatted about the 125th Anniversary Gretsch poster, and we had a good time looking at old Gretsch photos and catalogs dating back to 1912. Charlie then mentioned that he planned to call noted vintage drum dealer Steve Maxwell to arrange for a loaner Gretsch kit for the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie’s New York City dates. So look for that kit if you go to one of the group’s shows.

And by the way, if you do plan to go, get your tickets right away. When I saw the band play in Vienna, the club was literally packed with boogie woogie fans.  I’ve no doubt it’ll be the same in New York!

The Stones’ First Roll Through Georgia

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Charlie Watts backstage at the Georgia Southern show.

By Fred Gretsch

I’ve been a fan and follower of Charlie Watts and the Rolling Stones for many years. After all, Charlie is one of the longest-running Gretsch drum artists—a fact of which I’m very proud. But though I thought I knew a good deal about the band’s history, I recently discovered a bit of that history that I wasn’t familiar with . . . and which connects the Stones with the Gretsch family’s current home state of Georgia.

In 1965 the Rolling Stones were at the vanguard of the British Invasion. They were contemporaries of the Beatles, but they took a very different approach than the Fab Four. Instead of creating happy pop melodies, the Stones’ music was more heavily influenced by the raw, earthy sound of American blues. The band also looked different, with longer hair, a street-oriented wardrobe, and a generally grittier overall attitude.

After two successful European tours, the Stones headed for North America in April of 1965. They started out in Canada, then worked their way through the US Northeast . . . a routing that took them into New York City and their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 2.

The Rolling Stones play their first-ever college show on May 4, 1965 at Georgia Southern College in Statesboro.

Following their TV appearance the band headed south. And that’s where the Georgia connection comes in. On May 4, 1965 the Rolling Stones played their first college show—and their first southern-US performance—in Hanner Gymnasium at what was then Georgia Southern College in Statesboro. The show was sponsored by the school’s Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity, and tickets cost $2.50.

Charlie Watts and bandmates Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Bill Wyman headlined a show that featured a popular local band called The Bushmen as an opening act. The Stones played ten songs to a subdued audience that, frankly, was largely unfamiliar with their music. Although the Stones had appeared on American TV twice, they had yet to break into the US recording scene with the sort of mega-hits that the Beatles had enjoyed.

A ticket for the show cost $2.50.

According to an item that appears as number 38 in Georgia Southern University’s 100 Things You Should Know About GSU, “The Rolling Stones performed their first United States college act at the college on May 4, 1965. Some concert attendees reported a successful show, but the George-Anne reviewer praised the opening act for saving the concert. The review suggested that the Rolling Stones would be easily forgotten.”

As we all know, The Rolling Stones were not forgotten. They went to Florida on the day after the Georgia performance, and while they were there they wrote a little ditty called “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Some Stones historians say that the song title was connected to a blues tune that was a favorite of Keith’s. But other Stonesophiles speculate that it might have been a response to the lukewarm reception that the band received at their Statesboro show.

After finishing the southern leg of their tour in Jacksonville, Florida on May 8, the Stones moved to Chicago. While there they worked on “Satisfaction” at the Chess recording studios.  Two days later they were in Los Angeles, where they recorded the song at RCA studios.  It was in this session, the story goes, that Keith Richards rigged a version of a “fuzz box” to his guitar, giving the song’s opening riff its signature sound and sending  “Satisfaction”—and the Rolling Stones—straight up the charts.

A pensive Mick Jagger in Florida the day after the show in Statesboro…and one day before co-writing “Satisfaction.”

Dinah & Fred Visit With The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Enjoying A New Venture For Drum Great Charlie Watts

Virtually every serious music fan knows that great Gretsch drummer Charlie Watts has been the rhythmic foundation of the Rolling Stones for almost fifty years. But those fans may not know that while Charlie’s drumming anchors “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll Band,” his talents shine in other musical genres. In past years he’s led his own jazz groups, including a critically acclaimed big band. And this year he’s joined forces with German pianist Axel Zwingenberger to tour in a unique group dubbed The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie.

Alex Zwingenberger is the key figure of the boogie woogie revival. Labeled by British critics as “Boogiemeister of the world,” he’s the “A” in the group’s name. Charlie Watts is the “C.” The “B” is British pianist Ben Waters, while the “D” is bassist Dave Green. Together the band toured Europe during the month of March. They played several dates in Germany and in Austria, along with a memorable show at London’s Pizza Express Soho.

Boogie woogie music has been fascinating audiences with its youthful freshness for more than 100 years, making it uniquely appealing to new generations of enthusiastic musicians. But there’s more to it than that: Boogie woogie is one of the most important roots of modern popular music—especially rock ‘n’ roll. Charlie Watts himself has mentioned boogie woogie as a foundation of the Rolling Stones’ music. Dinah and I had the great pleasure of visiting with Charlie and the band prior to one of their late March performances in Vienna Austria. We chatted with Charlie about the 125th Anniversary Gretsch poster, and we had a good time looking at old Gretsch photos and catalogs dating back to 1912. Charlie then mentioned that he planned to call noted vintage drum dealer Steve Maxwell to arrange for a loaner Gretsch kit for the ABC&D Of Boogie Woogie’s New York City dates this coming June.

Drum enthusiasts may be interested to know that over and above all of his remarkable playing credits, Charlie is an avid drum collector. Among the interesting drums he owns are a Gretsch Birdland kit, an original Mel Lewis kit in burgundy sparkle, and a black kit similar to the early setup used by Tony Williams.

We showed the members of the band the roster for the Savannah Music Festival, which ran from March 20 to 27. Gretsch provides drums for the three-week program that showcases 100 world-class musical acts. The guys knew many of the performers either from personal experience or by reputation. Unfortunately, Charlie can’t book a year ahead for a gig like that due to the priority held by the Stones 50th Anniversary year—which will certainly include many special performances.

When The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie played in London, Times critic Clive Davis raved, “Jazz lover Charlie Watts looked more than happy to be sandwiched between the pianos of his old friend (and German boogiemeister) Axel Zwingenberger and our own Ben Waters. Watts has rightly won praise for his previous forays into bebop, but the visceral roar of a boogie-woogie riff is even more intoxicating.”

When we saw the band play at the Weiner Metropole in Vienna, the club was literally packed with boogie woogie fans. Piano players Alex and Ben performed on black Bösendorfer grands, whose size frankly overwhelmed the drumkit and the stand-up bass. Bösendorfer pianos have been hand-crafted in Vienna for over 250 years. Dave Green on stand up bass rounds out the quartet.

Vienna offers many other examples of musical history. The city is packed with concert venues and museums. The New Burg Museum currently features an exhibition of historic musical instruments—including drums that are hundreds of years old, as well as guitars made by noted 19th-century Viennese craftsman Johann Stauffer. In the early 1800s Stauffer had a young German apprentice by the name of Christian Friederich Martin. In 1833 Martin emigrated to America. He made guitars for six years in New York City before finally settling in Nazareth, Pennsylvania—where he established what we know today as the CF Martin guitar company.

In addition to playing on the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie’s live tour, Charlie Watts has also recorded with Alex Zwingenberger and Dave Green on a terrific album titled The Magic of Boogie Woogie. It features a mix of spontaneously created numbers and boogie classics, and the three talented musicians express the swinging magic of blues and boogie woogie in full glory. It’s also the first time that Charlie Watts’ drum artistry is featured in such an intimate setting. More information about the album—as well as some great musical clips—is available here.

The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie will be in New York and performing at the Lincoln Center and the Iridium Jazz Club from June 28 through July 2.  Check their tour schedule here.

Recap of Recent Gretsch Events 2014, 2013 & 2012

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Here are some highlights so far from 2014:

Bigsby at Fall Philly Guitar  Show – 11/8 & 11/9

Bigsby was at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA on November 8 & 9 for the Bee-3 Vintage Great American Guitar Show (Fall Philly). Bigsby offered professional vibrato installs and pit-stop check-ups of Bigbsy-installed guitars for the last time in 2014.

Dinah & Fred Gretsch Receive Georgia Governor’s Award – 10/7

On Tuesday, October 7 Dinah & Fred Gretsch were honored as recipients of the third annual Georgia Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities during a ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol.

GuitArlington – 10/18 & 10/19

Bigsby once again exhibited at the “world’s largest consumer guitar event”–GuitArlington–in Arlington, TX October 18 & 19, 2014. Sharing space with TV Jones, the Bigsby booth was a don’t-miss stop during the show.

Nashville Drum Show – 9/20 & 9/21

The Nashville Drum show, the biggest drum show in the south, took place on September 20 & 21 at the State Fairgrounds in Nashville.  Fred Gretsch was in attendance and on Saturday at Noon, made a special presentation on the new Broadkaster line of drums! Check out some fun attendee photos taken during the show.

Brooklyn Walking Tour with Fred Gretsch – 7/30

Current President (and 4th generation family member) Fred Gretsch led an intimate walking tour through Brooklyn to tell personal stories about the family and the building sites where the instruments were made. The tour kicked off at Main Drag Music at 11:30 a.m. followed by “Gretsch Day” activities from 1:30-3:30.  And to top it off, another Gretsch Day took place at Steve Maxwell Drums later in the day.

Bigsby at Summer NAMM – 7/17 to 7/19

The 2014 show was the largest in six years with almost 450 exhibitors showcasing more than 1,500 brands.  Nearly 20 exhibitors showed Bigsby or Bigsby licensed vibratos on a total of 70 instruments.  A truly great show.

Bigsby at Summer Philly Guitar Show – 6/21 & 6/22

The Summer Great American Guitar Show took place in Philly June 21 & 22.  Bigsby was on hand to professionally install vibratos and perform pit-stop checks of Bigsby-equipped guitars brought in by attendees.  Visit the Bigsby site for the post-show report.

Abbey Road on the River – 5/22 to 5/28

At this year’s Abbey Road on the River festival in Louisville, Kentucky, Gretsch Guitars presented Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Sebatian on Saturday, May 24 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and on Sunday, May 25 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Canadian Music Week – 5/6 to 5/10

A special Spotlight on Germany took place on Wednesday, May 7 during 2014’s Canadian Music Week that included a meet & greet with Fred & Dinah Gretsch.

Dallas International Guitar Festival – 5/2 to 5/4

The Dallas International Guitar Festival took place from May 2 to 4 and attendees who took their Bigsby-equipped guitars along were able to get an 8-point pit-stop tune up done for free. Free professional installations of Bigsby Vibratos were also offered. And those purchasing a copy of The Story of Paul Bigsby got a FREE t-shirt!! Visit Bigsby.com for a post-show report.

Gretsch Twang-O-Rama Concert in Tempe – 3/22

On Saturday, March 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. attendees enjoyed a Gretsch Twang-O-Rama concert event at the Tempe Guitar Show. Music by Jason Lee and the R.I.P. Tides, Jet Weston and his Atomic Ranch Hands, Gamblers Mark, The Octanes, and Jay Gordon & Blues Venom.

These Youngsters from Liverpool: The Beatles, Ed Sullivan, and Gretsch Guitars – 2/4  to 2/28

A terrific exhibit of Beatles-related memorabilia and instruments was held at the Georgia Southern Museum from February 4 through 28. An opening reception was held on February 4 during which Fred Gretsch spoke about how The Beatles’ performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” changed the musical instrument business forever.

Bigsby Vibratos at South Carolina Guitar Show – 2/22 & 23

The South Carolina Guitar Show in Spartanburg took place February 22 & 23. Attendees had the opportunity to take their Bigsby-equipped guitars for special pit-stop check-ups a well professional Bigsby Vibrato installations at no charge with purchase.

Winter NAMM – 1/23 to 1/26

Gretsch had a plethora of gorgeous guitars and drums on display at the NAMM Show in Anaheim.  Of special note this year for Gretsch Guitars, the Gretsch Roots Collection was selected as a “Gotta Stock It” item and Gretsch was proud to have the 9100-L Soprano Long Neck Ukulele selected as a “Best in Show” item.  In addition to some exciting new products, Gretsch Drums had on display a kit belonging to Matt Sorum of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver fame, and also to the legendary Phil Collins.  Take a look at our highlights story for much more about the show.  On Saturday night, 1/25/14, Gretsch Guitars and Drums sponsored an unforgettable Twang-O-Rama event at the Juke Joint in Anaheim.  Check out the Gretsch YouTube page for video clips from all the terrific musical performances.

Here are some highlights from 2013:

Bigsby Vibratos at Fall Philly Guitar Show – 11/9 & 10

Bigsby was at the Great American Guitar Show (also known as the Fall Philly guitar show) on November 9 & 10 offering the usual 8-point pit-stop service check of Bigsby-equipped guitars and free Bigsby installs during the show.

Gretsch 130th Anniversary Multi-Media Presentation at Class Axe Guitars – 10/12/13

Due to high demand to attend the Class Axe Guitars multi-media presentation, the event which was originally scheduled in store was moved to a larger venue. Class Axe Guitars in Kemptville, Ontario hosted the final 130th Anniversary event on Saturday, October 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m.  In addition to the special multimedia presentation hosted by Fred & Dinah Gretsch which explored a remarkable musical journey that began in 1883, there were great prizes including a Gretsch G5420T Electromatic® guitar .  A true Gretsch extravaganza!!

Gretsch 130th Anniversary Twang-O-Rama Concert Event at Blues Angel Music – 9/14/13

The Gretsch 130th Anniversary Twang-O-Rama concert headed to Blues Angel Music in Pensacola, FL on Saturday, September 14 with music by The Romantics, Rosie Flores & the Rivetors, Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, The Octanes, and Gretsch Lyles and the Modern Eldoradoes. The fun began at 1 p.m.

Gretsch 130th Anniversary Twang-O-Rama Concert at Cream City Music – 8/17/13

Cream City Music in Brookfield, WI hosted a Twang-O-Rama concert event on Saturday, August 17, beginning at 2 p.m. Music by Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, The Mike Elred Trio, and Jet Weston & his Atomic Ranch Hands. Surprise appearance by Fred & Dinah Gretsch delighted attendees.

Gretsch 130th Anniversary Twang-O-Rama Concert at Guitar Center Central Chicago – 8/15/13

Guitar Center Chicago hosted a Gretsch 130th Anniversary concert event on Thursday, August 15 at their North Halsted location. Music was provided by the Joe Robinson Trio, Mister Barrington and performing members of CAAS. Fred & Dinah Gretsch were also in attendance.

Gretsch 130th Anniversary Events and Steve Maxwell Vintage Drums & Rudy’s Music Shop – 8/3/13

One day, two events! Steve Maxwell Vintage & Custom Drums as well as Rudy’s Music in Soho were hosts on Saturday, August 3 for two great Gretsch 130th Anniversary events! Music by Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, the Kimberly Thompson Quartet and performing members of CAAS (the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society). Fred Gretsch was on hand as well!

Gretsch 130th Anniversary Concert at Sam Ash Music in Hollywood – 7/20/13

Sam Ash Music in Hollywood, CA, hosted a Gretsch 130th Anniversary Concert Event. Presented by Gretsch Guitars & Drums.  Performances by Steve Ferrone, the Joe Robinson Trio, and the Michelle Marie TrioBilly Duffy was emcee.

Three Gretsch 130th Anniversary Events in June -

Three great Gretsch dealers hosted 130th anniversary events In June. Each included lots of great music, meet & greets, giveaways, and a whole lot more!

STREETSOUNDS NYC
StreetSounds, Brooklyn, NY, Saturday, June 15. Presented by Gretsch Guitars. Music by The Romantics, Michelle Marie Trio, Jet Weston & His Atomic Ranch Hands, and Foxy Studs.

SWEETWATER GEARFEST

Sweetwater GearFest, Fort Wayne, IN, Saturday, June 22.  Presented by Gretsch Guitars & Drums. Music by Fountains of Wayne and the Joe Robinson Trio.

BIZARRE GUITAR
Greg Golden’s Bizarre Guitar, Reno, NV, Saturday, June 29. Presented by Gretsch Guitars & Drums. Music by Rosie Flores & the Rivetors, Zach Danziger (Mister Barrington), The Octanes. And Billy Duffy was the emcee!

Bigsby at the Ohio Guitar Show – 6/9

New in 2013, Bigsby exhibited at the Ohio Guitar Show at  the Aladdin Shrine Temple Complex in Columbus with free installations and pit-stop checks of attendees’ Bigsby-equipped guitars. Visit the Bigsby site for a recap of the event.

Abbey Road on the River – 5/23 to 5/27

Abbey Road on the River, the world’s largest Beatles-inspired festival took place from May 23 through 27. Gretsch Guitars proudly presented the legendary Peter Asher on Saturday & Sunday, May 25 & 26, the Steve Sizemore Group performed each day, and a special Gretsch guitar auction preceded both of Peter Asher’s shows.

Chicago Guitar Show – 5/18 & 19

Bigsby Vibratos once again exhibited at the Chicago Guitar Show at the DuPage Expo Center and completed free Bigsby installations and pit-stop checks of attendees’ Bigsby-equipped guitars.

Dallas International Guitar Festival – 4/19 to 4/21

The annual Gretsch Guitar Extravaganza took place in Dallas from April 19 to April 21 with Bigsby Vibratos, Gretsch Guitars, and TV Jones once again teaming up at the Dallas International Guitar Festival.

That Great Gretsch Day in Germany – 4/17 & 4/19

Thanks to all the great Gretsch fans in Germany who came out for That Great Gretsch Day at No. 1 Guitar Center in Hamburg on April 17 and to Music Store Professional in Köln on April 19. A special thanks to The Adriano BaTolba Trio who provided great music for the enjoyment of all, and also to Gretsch Guitars and everyone at each store for all the hard work that went into ensuring that That Great Gretsch Day was truly great!

Musikmesse Frankfurt – 4/10 to 4/13

A fantastic show this year with a record 113,000 visitors from 142 countries attending! Bigsby Vibratos exhibited with TV Jones Pickups and Gretsch Guitars and Drums had a great setup in Hall 4. Check out our picture gallery and check the Bigsby site for a post-show report.

Tempe Guitar Show & Gretsch 130th Anniversary Twang-O-Rama Concert – 3/23

On March 23, the 2013 Tempe Guitar Show presented by CE Distribution hosted Gretsch Guitar’s 130th Anniversary Twang-O-Rama concert event featuring performances by Lee Rocker and Buzz Campbell, the Mike Elred Trio, Big Nick & the Gila Monsters, and the Saucy Jacks.  A total of 48 vendors, 5 bands, and 1,800 people attended the show.

Gretsch Day at Musicroom Salisbury – 3/9

Musicroom Salisbury hosted a special Gretsch Day on March 9. The event featured talks and demonstrations from Gretsch brand manager Adam Bowden Smith, a meet-and-greet with other Gretsch team members, a chance to win a Gretsch G5420T guitar, and more!

Elmhurst College Jazz Festival – 2/21 to 2/24

The 46th annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival took place from February 21 through 24 in Elmhurst, Illinois–one of the oldest and best college jazz festivals in the United States! Learn about Elmhurst’s great music department and performing ensembles including the Gretsch Guitar Ensemble.

5th Annual Rockabilly Reunion – 2/15 to 2/17

Gretsch Guitars once again co-sponsored the Rockabilly Reunion in Lake Havasu City, AZ which took place February 15 to 17.  Attendees were treated to performances by The Octanes, Voo Doo Swing, and The Chop Tops!

Winter NAMM Show – 1/24 to 1/27

Gretsch created quite a buzz at this year’s show with lots of exciting new guitar and drum products. Take a look at some great photos from the show: Gretsch NAMM Show Album, Bigsby gallery, Gretsch Guitars and Drums Facebook pages, and the GretschPages.

Here are highlights from 2012:

Christmas 4 Kids Concert – 11/19

The 11th Annual Charlie Daniels Band & Friends concert benefiting Christmas 4 Kids took place on November 19 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. During the concert attendees were able to place a  bid on a Gretsch Anniversary guitar donated by the Gretsch Foundation.

Great American Guitar Show – 11/10 & 11/11

Bigsby Vibratos attended the Great American Guitar Show, also known as the Fall Philly Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center on November 10 & 11 and offered free installs with purchase along with the popular pit-stop program. Additionally, to help support victims of Hurricane Sandy, Bigsby offered to match 100 percent of all show sales with a donation to The Salvation Army.

GuitArlington – 10/20 & 10/21

Gretsch Guitars and Bigsby once again teamed up with pickup and guitar extraordinaire Tom “TV” Jones to bring you a one-stop GUITAR EXTRAVAGANZA! Attendees were able to check out their favorite products from all three companies! Special features of the booth included FREE Bigsby Installations, Bigsby Pit-Stops, guitar setups by TV Jones, and much, much more!

Savannah Folk Music Festival & Noteworthy Art Auction – 10/12 to 10/14

The Savannah Folk Music Society’s 23rd annual Savannah Folk Music Festival took place October 12 through 14. For the ninth year, the Society presented the “Noteworthy Art” Exhibit and Silent Auction in support of the festival with guitars donated by the Gretsch Fundation, the charitable arm of the Gretsch family. Some of the guitars were autographed by the biggest names in folk music including Grammy Award-winner Alison Krauss & Union Station, National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion and harp guitar expert Muriel Anderson, and Grammy Award-winner singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan. Watch as Chris Desa talked with WTOC11 in advance of the festivities.

Nashville Roundup – 9/27 to 9/30

The beautiful Hachland Hill Farms in Joelton, TN and the gracious Ms. Phila Hach once again hosted the Nashville Roundup.  The perfect setting for a great Gretsch event! The Gretsch Pages UStream channel broadcast live streaming during the event.

Gretsch Family & Paul Bigsby Named Manufacturing Legends by Guitar Player Mag – Nov 2012 Issue

The November issue of Guitar Player Magazine included their inaugural GP Hall of Fame awards and Paul Bigsby as well as the Gretsch Family were inducted as “Manufacturing Legends”. Truly a great honor presented by one of the preeminent industry publications.

Gretsch Euro Roundup – 9/22 & 9/23

The fifth annual Euro Roundup, a fun weekend of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, country, and jazz along with Gretsch guitars took place 9/22 and 9/23. This years’ event was held at hotel De Steenen Man in Zurich, Netherlands.

NorCal Roundup – 9/14 to 9/16

An extraordinary weekend of music and friendship in a setting of great natural beauty–the Clair Tappaan Lodge in Norden, CA. Gretsch Guitars was be on hand along with pop and rock industry legend, Peter Asher. Highlights and pictures via the GretschPages.

Abbey Road on the River, Washington DC – 8/30 to 9/3

The “Fred & Joe Show” made a stop in Washington DC over Labor Day weekend for the annual Abbey Road on the River Beatles festival. Gretsch Guitars presented The Love Album Live and the Steve Sizemore Group performed each day and also met with fans at the Gretsch exhibit. Some great Gretsch guitars were auctioned for worthwhile charitable organizations including the American Red Cross. PHOTO GALLERY.

SoCal World Guitar Show – 7/21 & 7/22

Bigsby Vibratos was in attendance at the SoCal World Guitar Show at the Fairplex in Pomona, CA July 21 and 22.  Visitors to the Bigsby booth were able to get a pit-stop check of their Bigsby-equipped guitars, enjoy install demonstrations, and more!

Great Gretsch Weekend in Nashville Recap

The weekend of  July 13 and 14 saw a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of events in Nashville, Tennessee, otherwise known as “Music City USA.” And Gretsch was an important participant in all of them. Read the weekend RECAP.

Chet Atkins: CGP Exhibition at the Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum – 8/12/11 to 7/15/12

After an 11-month run in the Country Music Hall of Fame® & Museum’s East Gallery, the cameo exhibition Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player came to an end on July 15, 2012.  Originally scheduled to close in June, the exhibit was extended to accommodate members of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society as well as NAMM during the final weekend.  Employing a wealth of instruments, vintage photos, personal possessions and correspondence, career-spanning audio and video, as well as special programs scheduled throughout its duration, the exhibit explored the life and impact of this incomparable musician, producer, and executive.  The exhibition was made possible through support of the Gretsch Company with additional support provided by the Great American Country Television Network.

Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Convention – 7/11 to 7/14

The Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville again hosted the annual members-only Chet Atkins Appreciation Society (CAAS) Convention.  The Society, whose members have a sincere interest and appreciation of Chet’s music, was founded in 1983 and meets annually in order to preserve Chet’s legacy and encourage young and old alike to keep his music alive.  This year the Gretsch booth included a special tribute to Paul Yandell, Chet’s long-time friend and band leader who was bestowed with the fifth and final “Certified Guitar Player” (C.G.P.) title by the Atkins family in 2011.

Summer NAMM Show, Nashville, TN – 7/12 to 7/14

The annual Summer NAMM Show took place at the Nashville Convention Center from July 12 to 14.  Featuring a Public Day on Saturday, attendees were treated to Bigsby Vibrato installation demonstrations at the Gretsch booth along with a sampling of authorized Gretsch Company merchandise from GretschGear.  In addition, the full line of Bigsby Vibratos were on display along with a copy of the beautifully-illustrated book Paul Bigsby: Father of the Modern Solidbody Electric Guitar.

Gretsch Day at Cream City Music, Brookfield, WI – 6/30

Gretsch Guitars and Cream City Music joined forces to present Gretsch Day on June 30.  The event featured free guitar re-stringing, the unveiling of a specially-painted Gretsch guitar by Sarah Gallenberger, as well as the Fred & Joe Show which included music by Jake Allen, Bobby Gibson, and Nik & Sam.  For event photos, click HERE.

Gretsch Day at Street Sounds Brooklyn – 6/2

Street Sounds in Brooklyn hosted Gretsch Day 2012 on June 2.  Billed as the Fred & Joe Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival, the evening featured live music from 3 to 6 p.m.  Performers included the Grammy-winning quartet Fountains of Wayne, sisters Nik & Sam, Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, The Octanes, and Foxy Studs. Making special appearances were Damian Kulash of OK Go and Gretsch Girl Kim Falcon. For images from the event, click HERE.

Dinah & Fred Meet Gretsch Drummer Mark Pontius – 5/30

The Gretsches had the opportunity to meet with Gretsch-endorsed drummer Mark Pontius and the rest of the popular Indie pop band Foster The People during a concert at Rumsey Playhouse in New York City’s Central Park on May 30.  Here’s a great photo from their meeting.

Abbey Road on the River – 5/26 & 5/27

The Fred & Joe Show with Fred Gretsch & Joe Carducci was at Abbey Road on the River in Louisville. The world’s largest Beatles-inspired festival ran May 24 through 28. The Fred & Joe Show took place on May 26 with an encore presentation on May 27 . Take a look at some pictures from the booth HERE.

Dallas Guitar Show – 4/20 to 4/22

Bigsby Vibratos once again teamed with TV Jones and Gretsch Guitars for a Guitar Extravaganza at the 35th Annual Dallas International Guitar Festival held at the Dallas Market Hall from April 20 to 22.  Installation demos by Bigsby as well as Tom Jones, “pit stop” service checks of Bigsby-equipped guitars, and Kim Falcon signing autographs were just some of the highlights.

Balto-DC Roundup – 3/30 & 3/31

The third annual Gretsch Balto-DC Roundup took place March 30 & 31 at the Hartford Park Community Association Center in Parkville, Maryland. Pictures here.

Meeting with Charlie Watts – 3/28

While in Vienna, Austria, Dinah & Fred Gretsch were able to get together with Charlie Watts,  long-time Gretsch drummer and member of the Rolling Stones as well as the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie. Read the entire story here.

Musikmesse Frankfurt – 3/21 to 3/24

Gretsch Guitars, Drums, and Bigsby Vibratos were on hand in Frankfurt for Musikmesse 2012.  Bigsby product specialist Adam Seutter performed twice-daily installation demonstrations at the Warwick/Framus booth. Gretsch drummer Mark Schulman, as part of the Fender Rock Trio, performed daily to standing-room-only crowds.

The Fred & Joe Show at Blues Angel Music – 3/2

The Fred & Joe Show made its first stop of 2012 at Blues Angel Music in Pensacola, FL on March 3 for their Grand Opening and charity raffle event benefiting the Red Cross and United Services Organizations (USO). The event took place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in its brand new facilities at 657 N. Pace Blvd. The new 14,000-square-foot building boasts modern retail, music lesson, and musical instruments and electronics repair space.

Lake Havasu Rockabilly Reunion Weekend – 2/17 to 2/19

The 2012 Lake Havasu Rockabilly Reunion Festival took place from Februrary 17-19 at Lake Havasu Arizona State Park.  Sponsored by Gretsch, the festival featured live music, hot rod cars, Ms. Lake Havasu Rockabilly Pinup Girl Contest and much, much more! Gretsch was there with a fabulous display of guitars as well as the lovely Gretsch Girl, Kim Falcon, who signed her new poster for festival-goers.

Gretsch and Superbowl ILVI – 2/5

OK Go climbed into a specially-equipped Chevy Sonic and utilized 148 black Gretsch G5105 and 140 red G5103 Electromatic CVT III guitars in their latest video for “Needing/Getting” which aired during Superbowl XLVI. More here.

The NAMM Show, Anaheim – 1/19 to 1/22

The 2012 NAMM Show took place at the Anaheim Convention Center January 19 to 22. Gretsch Guitars and Gretsch Drums were on hand with some exciting new products including the Gretsch Rancher Acoustics and Roots Collection as well as the Gretsch Brooklyn Series drums.  Bigsby Vibratos also had an exciting new display featuring Bigsby-equipped guitars from 13 different manufacturers.  Check here for coverage provided by our friends at The Gretsch Pages and here for videos from the show.

For a recap of Gretsch events from 2011, click HERE.

A Birthday Salute to Charlie Watts

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

From the GretschDrums.com website:

This past June 2 marked the 70th birthday of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. And While Gretsch Drums and the whole Gretsch family join the drumming world in congratulating Charlie on this milestone, we have a reason of our own to celebrate. Charlie is the longest-running Gretsch endorsing artist. He’s played Gretsch drums for his entire career…starting even before he joined “The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band” in 1963.

Charlie Watts in 1969

As Charlie puts it, “I’ve always used Gretsch. I still use the same one that Max Roach advertised you should buy, which was the soft [rack] tom-tom, bass drum, deep [floor] tom-tom, and a snare drum.” That simple four-piece kit has anchored The Rolling Stones over a history that spans forty-eight years, more than thirty record albums, and dozens of legendary (and sometimes infamous) tours.

Although he established his reputation as one of the simplest and steadiest—and yet most recognizable and emulated—of all rock drummers, Charlie’s own musical tastes run toward jazz. In the late ’70s he joined fellow Stone Ian “Stu” Stewart in the retro boogie-woogie party band Rocket 88, which featured many of the UK’s top jazz, rock, and R&B musicians. In the 1980s, he founded and toured worldwide with a big band that included such jazz/rock luminaries as Evan Parker, Courtney Pine, and Jack Bruce.

In 1991 Charlie founded a quintet to honor his personal hero, Charlie Parker. Two years later that quintet recorded the critically regarded Warm & Tender, which reached #6 on the Billboard jazz charts. All told, Charlie recorded seven jazz albums between 1986 and 2004. And as recently as 2010 Charlie was gigging with a quartet called The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie, together with pianists Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters, plus Charlie’s childhood friend Dave Green on bass.

There’s much more to this story.  To read the rest of it, click here!