Happy Birthday, George Martin!


Legendary record producer George Martin is 88 years old today! Enjoy this excerpt from If You Like the Beatles… to celebrate.

When the Beatles first met George Martin, no one could have been a more unlikely candidate to produce their records. At 36, he was nearly twice their ages. From his patrician upbringing to his choice of neckties, the Parlophone Records producer and talent scout had a style and stature that was diametrically opposed to the young Liverpudlian upstarts. But Martin and the erstwhile super group (especially John Lennon) clicked, partly because of a shared passion for the lunacy of the BBC’s The Goon Show.

Martin’s involvement with the Goons wasn’t just as a fan and a devotee; he’d actually produced records for the Goons, including their classic album The Bridge on the River Wye, which spoofed the Academy Award-winning movie The Bridge on the River Kwai. Martin was a friend of Spike Milligan, the show’s creative voice, who he met through Peter Sellers (whose early Parlophone albums Martin also produced). The breakout single from Sellers’ second album was a parody of Lonnie Donegan’s recording of “Puttin’ on the Style,” a nineteenth-century pop song that was in the early repertoire of the skiffle-mad Quarrymen. Later on, Sellers did one of the first covers of “A Hard Day’s Night,” performed in the style of Sir Laurence Olivier as Richard III.

The half-hour wacky weekly Goon Show had been a staple in sophisticated British households since its immaculate conception in 1951 and was a forerunner to an entire new wave of British comedy, inspiring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore to go Beyond the Fringe. (Martin produced their album as well in 1961.)

The affliction with the Goons immediately endeared Martin to John Lennon, who was just entering adolescence at the time the Goons took to the airwaves, and whose view of reality was inalterably shaped by their mind-expanding programs. The myriad sounds rattling around inside Spike Milligan’s mind were accomplished through the insidious use of ingenious sound effects, engineered through a mastery of echo, reverb, multiple edits, and playing with recording tape speeds, all of which would become hallmarks of the Beatles’ studio repertoire, and especially, John Lennon’s mad, unspooling, and acid-soaked creative vision. To be a Goon Show freak turned out to be an absolute requirement for producing the Beatles, as the group grew and changed, and as their studio techniques (and minds) expanded.

Ever since he came to Parlophone, George Martin had been cutting his teeth on comedy records. His earliest credits include Peter Ustinov’s 1955 LP Mock Mozart, which involved fooling around with tape effects and overdubs. In addition to Beyond the Fringe, Martin recorded David Frost’s satirical TV show That Was the Week That Was. He also directed shows at Peter Cook’s trailblazing nightclub, the Establishment, where Australian jet-setter Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) was known to perform alongside visiting U.S. personages like Lenny Bruce. Martin worked with satirists Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, who took on any and all subjects for their comedy songs (much as the droll, Harvard-educated Tom Lehrer did in the U.S.), producing their albums At the Drop of a Hat and its follow up, At the Drop of Another Hat. A rabid fan of the cinema, Martin worked with actress-singer Joan Sims, a regular in twenty-four Carry On films, and produced her two best-known singles: “Hurry Up Gran / Oh Not Again Ken” and “Spring Song/Men.”

Martin’s appreciation for comedy and studio wizardry may have found a kindred spirit in John Lennon, but his classical training (on piano and oboe) and fondness for film scores made an impression on the more tradition-minded Paul McCartney. As a fan of Johnny Dankworth’s 1960 score for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (another “kitchen sink” drama à la A Taste of Honey), Martin produced Dankworth’s “Experiments with Mice,” jazzy variations on “Three Blind Mice” that hit the Top 10 in the UK in 1956. In 1961 Dankworth wrote the theme for the popular British TV spy series The Avengers. That same year Martin produced Danworth’s first Number One record, a version of the jazz standard “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” performed by a nine-piece trad band called the Temperance Seven, which featured vocalist Paul Macdowell. The Dankworth-Martin association continued in 1976, when Martin produced the album Born on a Friday for Dankworth’s wife, jazz singer Cleo Laine.

If You Like the Beatles…

The Beatles came up in the rock and-and-roll era, when Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley defined cool. Their early shows were big beat bacchanals, the Brit interpretation of that crazy American sound. But it wasn’t long before they were absorbing and creating more and more music – from folk to experimental, to psychedelia and hard rock, quite literally changing music forever and influencing hundreds of great bands in the process.

This is the first book for music lovers that begins with the simple premise, “If you like the Beatles . . . ,” and takes off from there, digging into their influences and everything that came after them, opening up new doors for listeners looking for no-risk discs to expand their collection.

Beginning with the Beatles’ lesser-known roots in rockabilly and Tin Pan Alley, and working through American R&B, the British Invasion, California folk, and the Summer of Love, and to the great pop and rock bands of the ’80s, ’90s, and the 21st century, this is a must-have for anyone who likes the Beatles, which is…everyone.

Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith

Both members of The Monkees have their birthdays today! Happy birthday to Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith. Below is an excerpt from Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear, by Rich Podolsky.

With all the publicity he had received, Kirshner was getting quite a requtation, and his ego swelled a little more once he began guiding the musical career of the Monkees.

In 1965, producer Bob Rafelson approached Bert Schneider with an idea. Rafelson was inspired by the Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night, which not only featured the group’s songs but showed their happy-go-lucky wackiness as well. He wanted to do a TV series with four actors who would play a wacky American foursome. Schneider agreed and the two formed their own company, Raybert Productions, and sold the show to Screen Gems.

Screen Gems put out a wide casting call and finally settled on Americans Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Englishman Davy Jones. The company planned a weekly TV show, which would feature the group’s slapstick antics and a song or two.

For the music, the company relied heavily on Kirshner. And he delivered. He selected and executive-produced all of their songs, several of which were written by Jeff Barry and Neil Diamond, two of the decade’s greatest songwriters. For their first single, Kirschner carefully picked “Last Train to Clarksville,” which was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who were new in the Kirschner stable.

After “Clarksville” went to No. 1, Kirshner somehow talked Neil Diamond into giving the Monkees “I’m a Believer,” even though he wanted to record it himself. At the time, Diamond was already a successful performer, having struck with “Solitary Man” and “Cherry, Cherry,” the latter reaching No. 6. Talking him into giving up “I’m a Believer” may have been Kirshner’s greatest accomplishment for Screen Gems.

Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear

In 1958, long before he created and hosted Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, the most dynamic rock-and-roll series in television history, before he developed the Monkees and created the Archies, Don Kirshner was a 23-year-old kid with just a dream in his pocket. Five years later he was the prince of pop music. He did it by building Aldon Music, a song publishing firm, from scratch. This is about how he did it – with teenage discoveries Bobby Darin, Carole King, Neil Sedaka, and more.

By 1960, at the ripe old age of 25, Kirshner had built the most powerful publishing house in the business, leading Time magazine to call him “the Man with the Golden Ear.” In five short years he coaxed and guided his teenage prodigies to write more than 200 hits. And they weren’t just hits, as it turned out, but standards – including “On Broadway,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Up on the Roof,” “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” “I Love How You Love Me,” “Who Put the Bomp,” and “The Locomotion” – songs that have become the soundtrack of a generation. “We weren’t trying to write standards,” said one songwriter. “We were just trying to please Donnie.”

Ableton Grooves

Josh Bess, author of Ableton Grooves, has uploaded some demo drum grooves from his book! Now users can listen to the drum kits they will be programming with Ableton Grooves. Follow Josh Bess on SoundCloud here, or visit his website at JoshBess.net.

Ableton Grooves will empower you to create realistic-sounding drum grooves using Ableton Live and the Ableton Grooves Drum Racks – specifically created for this book by certified Ableton Live trainer Josh Bess. Each groove is written using MIDI Maps, an original and powerful programming concept introduced for the first time in this book. With MIDI Maps and the MIDI Note Editor, you’ll learn not only how to read the exercises but also how to use them to develop your own creative and musical grooves. Bess presents musical notation alongside the MIDI Maps so that you can understand both the technological and musical sides of what you’re learning and creating.

Ableton Grooves teaches much more than how to map out beats and grooves! It demonstrates concepts that become stepping-stones to a new way of thinking and creating while introducing diverse groove styles. Tips and hints throughout the book and accompanying DVD-ROM reveal several ways you can create something new for yourself.

This book demonstrates how to program many groove styles, while presenting several techniques that add important musical feel and emotion. Included are over 80 standard and diverse dance, rock, metal, funk, R&B, jazz, Latin, and hybrid drum set grooves.

Randy Poe at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Randy Poe, author of Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens, will be giving a talk at the Country Music Hall of Fame about Buck Owens and the Bakersfield Sound on Saturday, December 7th at 1:30pm. Check it out here! And while you wait, here is an excerpt from Buck ‘Em.

My parents moved out to Bakersfield that same year, so pretty soon most of the folks who had made that original trip from Texas to Arizona ended up in the same town again. The only one who didn’t eventually make the move was my older sister, Mary Ethel. She’d gotten married in Arizona, so she stayed there. My younger sister Dorothy had been a senior in high school when my parents moved to Bakersfield, so she lived with Mary Ethel until she graduated. Then she came on our and moved back in with our parents. A year later, Melvin came to Bakersfield, too. It was where we’d all planned on going back in 1937. It just took us a little longer to get there than we’d thought it would.

When I got to Bakersfield, I found out my Uncle Vernon had been absolutely right about the music scene that was going on. In fact, Bakersfield had been kind of a music hot bed, I guess you’d say, going back quite a few years before I arrived.

Bob Wills had been a regular at the Bakersfield dance halls back in the ’40s. There’d also been a fiddler named Jimmy Thomason who played a big dance at the Beardsley Ballroom every week. He started playing there in ’49, and I guess he would’ve played there forever if the place hadn’t burned down in 1950. I think Jimmy might’ve been about the first resident of Bakersfield who actually got a record contract. He was signed to King Records, a label that put out a bunch of great blue-grass and country stuff in those days. None of Jimmy’s records were chart hits or anything like that, but being a genuine recording artist sure made him a big deal around town. When television finally arrived in Bakersfield, he became a local TV star. He and his wife hosted a bunch of different country performers on The Louise and Jimmy Thomason Show.

There was another place in town called The Rainbow Gardens where everybody went to dance after the Beardsley Ballroom burned down. Outside of the city limits a little ways was a place called the Pumpkin Center Barn Dance. A guy named Ebb Pilling ran the Pumpkin Center. He called himself Cousin Ebb, and he played the banjo in his own band there. Cousin Ebb booked a lot of bands at the Pumpkin, including the Maddox Brothers and Rose. Bonnie and I had seen the Maddox Brothers and Rose back in Mesa when we were teenagers. I remember another Bakersfield guy – Roy Nicols – was the guitar player the night me and Bonnie saw ‘em. Rose and her brothers were the first act I ever got to see that wore really colorful Western-type outfits with rhinestones on ‘em – the kind of things all of us country singers started wearing in the ’60s.

All of these places I’m telling you about – the Beardsley Ballroom, the Rainbow Gardens, and the Pumpkin Center Barn Dance – were great big places with big ol’ dance floors. Most of the music being played at those places during that era was Western Swing. I loved Western Swing. In fact, one of the earliest Western Swing bands was a Texas outfit called the Light Crust Dough Boys. I still remember listening to the Light Crust Dough Boys on the radio when I was real little.

Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens is the life story of a country music legend. Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Buck eventually found his way to Bakersfield, California. Unlike the vast majority of country singers, songwriters, and musicians who made their fortunes working and living in Nashville, the often rebellious and always independent Owens chose to create his own brand of country music some 2,000 miles away from Music City – racking up a remarkable twenty-one number one hits along the way. In the process he helped give birth to a new country sound and did more than any other individual to establish Bakersfield as a country music center.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Buck began working on his autobiography. Over the next few years, he talked into the microphone of a cassette tape machine for nearly one hundred hours, recording the story of his life.

With his near-photographic memory, Buck recalled everything from his early days wearing hand-me-down clothes in Texas to his glory years as the biggest country star of the 1960s; from his legendary Carnegie Hall concert to his multiple failed marriages; from his hilarious exploits on the road to the tragic loss of his musical partner and best friend, Don Rich; from his days as the host of a local TV show in Tacoma, Washington, to his co-hosting the network television show Hee Haw; and from his comeback hit, “Streets of Bakersfield,” to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In these pages, Buck also shows his astute business acumen, having been among the first country artists to create his own music publishing company. He also tells of negotiating the return of all of his Capitol master recordings, his acquisition of numerous radio stations, and of his conceiving and building the Crystal Palace, one of the most venerated musical venues in the country.

Buck ‘Em! is the fascinating story of the life of country superstar Buck Owens – from the back roads of Texas to the streets of Bakersfield.

Click here to watch a video extra on YouTube for Buck ‘Em.

The History of Marshall

Coming soon – The History of Marshall: The First Fifty Years, by Michael Doyle and Nick Bowcott. Below is the two-part preface to the book. Enjoy!

So we meet again, twenty years since my last Marshall book, The History of Marshall, was published (1993) and over thirty years since my first, The Sound of Rock (1982). I never dreamed that a book or a company would have such a profound effect on my life that I would be asked to write about it decades later. Such is the power of Marshall.

In 1982, The Sound of Rock was just about the first book ever written on guitar amplifiers – and I was really concerned that I would be writing somewhat selfishly for an audience of one. It was researched in a couple of months, written by hand, typed on a typewriter by my sister, and photographed in black and white with a borrowed (manual-focus) film camera. I recall that the sharp photos were taken in the morning when I was sober, while those that were out of focus where taken in the afternoon after Jim, Ken, and I had enjoyed a few bottles of wine with lunch. Happy days and simpler times!

Back then, information on old amplifiers was extremely rare, and others who shared my enthusiasm for them even rarer. In the decade that followed, new interest was fired up, and vintage Marshalls became well established as part of many guitarists’ armory and many collector’s closets. The advent of the personal computer allowed me to cover a broader picture of the Marshall history than was previously possible, and I was safe in the knowledge that I would be writing for the benefit of an audience other than myself. And so it was that The History of Marshall was published in 1993. I wanted that book to be definitive, and thankfully it was widely received as such – enabling it to survive in print during the biggest revolution of all, the Internet age. Facilitated by digital photography, the web has redefined our access to information, and Marshall’s history is no exception.

However, guitarists are tactile people, and if they can feel the difference in a thousandth of an inch on a string gauge, then presumably they still appreciate the printed word. So we fittingly celebrate the first fifty years of Marshall with that most analog creation – a book.

When I was approached to author The First Fifty Years, I knew my memory was fading, and that fact, combined with my less than expert knowledge of most Marshalls made since 1995, made a co-author a necessity. Enter fellow Marshall nutter, “Grim Reaper” guitarist, and talented writer Nick Bowcott. Without Nick’s involvement, persuasion, and deep Marshall tribal knowledge, this book would never have happened.

My goal this time was to simply produce a book that would put a smile on Jim’s face. Regrettably, that didn’t happen. Jim was ill for many years and passed away in April 2012, aged eighty-eight, during Marshall Amplification’s fiftieth-anniversary year.

With his creation of the Marshall stack, Jim Marshall provided the tools that defined the look, as well as the sound, of rock for generations of guitarists. Inventor, leader, drummer, tap dancer, singer, and music-industry ambassador who contributed generously to many charities close to his heart, Jim Marshall ultimately lived life his way – loud and proud. Personally, he was an inspiration, friend, and mentor. The profound impact he made will live on in the music of the last fifty years and undoubtedly will set the tone for decades to come.

I look forward to hearing and reading about it.


In late 1991, I was both flattered and honored to be asked to demonstrate the then brand-new Marshall JMP-1 Valve MIKI Preamp at the 1992 Winter NAMM show. So, I got together with Andrew Lubman, a sequencing expert from the then USA distributor of Marshall, KORG USA, and we came up with a backing track that seamlessly segued over sixty modern and classic rock riffs while sending the desired program changes to the JMP-1 at the appropriate times. I guess we did a good job, as my NAMM gig quickly turned into a full-time job as USA product specialist/demonstrator for the company.

To say this job was a badge of honor for me would be a gross understatement, as Marshall had always been the “be all and end all” amp for hard rock, as far as I was concerned. From AC/DC to ZZ Top, Accept to Zakk Wylde, the Deftones to Def Leppard, and Slash to Slayer, the Marshall was not only omnipresent sonically but invariably visually as well, especially with acts like Slayer, AC/DC, and Zakk Wylde, who always have a veritable wall of Marshall stacks behind them onstage. Hell, Eddie Van Halen recorded “Eruption” – a game- and life-changing burst of guitar genius using a Marshall. I rest my case. In fact, I was such a Marshall head (awful pun, not intended!) that I didn’t consider myself a serious player until I finally owned a Marshall half stack – a 50-watt JCM800 2204 head and a 1960A 4×12 cabinet, both of which I still have to this very day.

To be a legit product specialist, I didn’t only have to be knowledgeable of the Marshall offerings at the time, I also had to get intimately acquainted with past products and the company’s illustrious history. My then boss, the one and only Ritchie Fleigler (author of the excellent Hal Leonard book Amps: The Other Half of Rock ‘n’ Roll), got me up to speed on the existing product lineup and then thrust a book in my hand and said, “Read and digest this.” The tome in question? The Sound of Rock, written by Mike Doyle in the early 1980s, and it proved a godsend…my bible, if you will. Also, as luck would have it, at the time Michael worked for KORG as the Californian sales rep for Marshall. We became good friends, and I was fortunate enough to travel with the man on several occasions. It goes without saying that I took every opportunity to pick his Marshall-addled brain. Thanks for that, Mike…please don’t ever change!

Then, in 1993, Michael’s next Hal Leonard book, The History of Marshall: The Illustrated Story of “The Sound of Rock,” was released and instantly became both my new bible and an invaluable reference tool, lofty positions it has held every since. Shortly thereafter, Michael moved to Fender (as did Ritchie), but we remained in touch over the years, and while he flourished at Fender (as did Ritchie), his passion for Marshall and the man behind the brand, Jim, never wavered even for a split second. Oh, yeah, when Ritchie left for pastures afresh, I successfully bagged his job as U.S. product manager for Marshall. Another badge of honor, which afforded me countless hours in the company of the legendary Jim Marshall himself! And I was getting paid while doing so: best gig on the planet. Period.

We now fast forward to the mid-2000s – with Marshall’s fiftieth-anniversary looming on the horizon, myself and Michael had long been talking about updating The History of Marshall together, and, as luck would have it, John Cerullo (a modern-day Job!) of Hal Leonard was also game to revisit the project. So around 2007 we set about doing exactly that. To say this was a privilege for me would, once again, be a vast understatement – to play a small role in updating the book I’ve long heralded as being “the Marshall fan’s bible” was effectively a dream come true. Now, at this point of the proceedings I know what you’re probably thinking: “Isn’t a guy who’s spent the better part of two decades working for Marshall going to be more than a little biased?” Well, here’s the rub. Shortly after taking on the book, I – like Michael and Ritchie before me – headed west and joined Fender!

One of the conditions of my taking this new job, though, was that I could continue working on the Marshall book with Michael (no longer at Fender by this time, he’d been with Guitar Center for quite a while). The fine folk at Fender agreed, and it was while I was there that the vast majority of my contribution was outlined and fleshed out. I am also delighted to report that despite my moving on, my much-valued relationship with Jim Marshall remained intact and I was only too happy to continue attending his birthday bash every year.

After a great three-year spell at Fender, where I worked with the wonderful Jackson, Charvel, and EVH lines, Marshall and KORG parted ways and the Brits asked me to come back and help set up Marshall USA. I accepted and so was able to be back with Jim as the fiftieth-anniversary of his company became a reality. Sadly, while Jim lived into the early part of 2012, ill health prevailed, and he left us to make heaven a louder place several months before the much-heralded Marshal 50th Anniversary Concert at Wemberly Arena. So, it was with heavy heart that the last couple of chapters of this book were written and the intro reworked…

It is safe to say that penning this tome was a labor of love for both myself and Michael…and sheer torture for John! It took longer than expected to get it to where we were truly happy – far longer. It also proved far, far harder than I could have ever imagined, and this is not my first ride into the book writing rodeo. I sincerely hope that our efforts give you the pleasure and insight that both of Michael’s previous books have given me.

This one’s for you, Jim…RIP, my friend, and thank you.


The History of Marshall – The First Fifty Years

From its humble origins in the back of a small music store in London, Marshall Amplification has defined the sound of rock for generations of guitarists around the world.

The History of Marshall: The First Fifty Years tells the story of Jim Marshall’s remarkable life and documents the many innovations of Marshall amplifiers, from the famous “stack” to the most current offerings. The book features:

• Hundreds of color photographs throughout, including rare amplifiers and previously unpublished historical documents

• Reprints of vintage catalogs and marketing materials from Marshall and its related brands, including Park and CMI

• Extensive appraisal and history of the Celestion speaker

• History of the Marshall factory locations and the pictorial “factory tour”

The book is also:

• Predominantly full color (similar books are typically – sometimes exclusively – black and white) and includes more historical material than any previous publication

• The first publication to bring the history of the company and its products up to date

The History of Marshall: The First Fifty Years is the definitive account of this fascinating company known as “The Sound of Rock.” It’s absolutely essential reading for musicians, technicians, and collectors alike.

Martin Guitars 180th anniversary

On November 6th, 180 years ago, C.F. Martin set up his own guitar shop in New York City. The rest is history. In honor of today, here is the foreword of Inventing the American Guitar, by Peter Szego and Robert Shaw. 

Christian Friedrich Martin was one of eight million Germans who emigrated to the United States between 1820 and World War I. Martin came to New York, a major center of industry, finance, and entertainment, to pursue success. Looking for freedom from the restrictive economic model of his native Germany’s guild system, Martin realized that there was a growing market for musical instruments in New York. The city also offered him a global trade network that made it easy for him to obtain raw materials, to import musical items for resale, and to ship finished guitars around the globe. Yet, the cultural landscape of the city was far different from what residents and visitors experienced even a generation or two after Martin. Although New York already had a bustling music scene, many of the city’s most venerable music institutions and venues would not be established for some time. The New York Philharmonic, the nation’s oldest symphony orchestra, was founded in 1842, three years after Martin moved to Pennsylvania. The Metropolitan Opera was not organized until 1880, Carnegie Hall would not open until 1891, and Juilliard would not begin educating young musicians until 1905. C. F. Martin arrived even before Henry Steinway, the music manufacturer perhaps most closely associated with the city, who came to New York City from Braunschweig, Germany, in 1850 to build pianos.

When Martin arrived, the city was in the midst of an economic boom that was the result of the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. Although New York had been the largest city in the United States since the first census was taken in 1790, its growth accelerated tremendously in the early nineteenth century, topping one hundred thousand residents in 1810 and doubling to more than two hundred thousand inhabitants by 1830. Although the area of the city was confined to the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, with most of the island consisting of estates and farmland, the population would grow to more than half a million citizens by 1850.

As a German immigrant, Martin used his connections within the German community to establish himself in New York. The population of German immigrants and German-Americans was already more than 24,000 in 1840. That population exploded over the next two decades; by 1855, New York City boasted the third largest population of German-speakers in the world, behind only Berlin and Vienna. When the Martin family relocated to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, they again chose a place with a large German population that made the transition easier.

Martin opened his music store and lived in the same building at 196 Hudson Street, in an area of New York City that is now known as Tribeca, near the entrance of the present day Holland tunnel. During Martin’s time in New York, this was a growing residential and commercial neighborhood built on land that had been farmland owned by Trinity Church. The 1830s, when Martin was establishing his business, were tumultuous times in New York. In July of 1834, the city erupted in anti-abolitionist riots, and the nearby Laight Street Presbyterian church and the home of its pastor Samuel Hanon Cox were targeted and vandalized during several days of rioting. The church was a mere two blocks from the Martin shop. In December 1835, the Great Fire of New York City destroyed seventeen city blocks, and perhaps as many as 700 buildings. As a result, many New Yorkers looked to move their homes and businesses farther uptown, and many flocked to the area around Martin’s workshop. Then, in May 1837, a financial panic hit, throwing the city and the nation into a years-long recession that contributed to the Martin family’s decision to leave New York.

However, New York City remained an integral part of the Martin story even after the family moved to Pennsylvania. The city remained the most important market for Martin instruments, and it was necessary to maintain the business connections he built while living in the city. New York was so important for Martin that the city name continued to be stamped on his guitars long after his death.

C. F. Martin was similar to many other immigrants who came to New York City in the nineteenth century, embodying many of the ideals of the time.

He was a highly skilled immigrant who sought a freer economic system; an entrepreneur who tried several business models; a successful businessman who built a manufacturing company; and an innovative craftsman who combined his own knowledge with ideas that he encountered in the United States.

 Jayson Kerr Dobney

Associate Curator

Department of Musical Instruments

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Inventing the American Guitar is the first book to describe the early history of American guitar design in detail. It tells the story of how a European instrument was transformed into one with all of the design and construction features that define the iconic American flat-top guitar. This transformation happened within a mere 20 years, a remarkably brief period.

The person who dominates this history is C. F. Martin Sr., America’s first major guitar maker and the founder of the Martin Guitar Company, which continues to produce outstanding flat-top guitars today. After emigrating from his native Saxony to New York in 1833, Martin quickly established a guitar making business, producing instruments modeled after those of his mentor, Johann Stauffer of Vienna. By the time he moved his family and business to rural Pennsylvania in 1839, Martin had absorbed and integrated the influence of Spanish guitars he had seen and heard in New York. In Pennsylvania, he evolved further, inventing a uniquely American guitar that was fully developed before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Inventing the American Guitar traces Martin’s evolution as a craftsman and entrepreneur and explores the influences and experiments that led to his creation of the American guitar that is recognized and played around the world today.

Happy Birthday to Don Cornelius

Guest Blogger: Ericka Blount Danois, author of Love, Peace, and Soulshares a few remembrances of Don Cornelius for an article on Spin.com.

This past summer was the first and last time I ever saw Don Cornelius in person. He was at the Expo 72 in Chicago, which featured an exhibition of rare photos and vintage footage fromSoul Train, the television show he produced for 35 years. The day before, the steely, still-smooth train operator (and former radio reporter at Chicago’s WVON) was impeccably turned out in all-black leather and alligator shoes, serving as a panelist at a screening of the VH1 Soul Train documentary, The Hippest Trip in America. He was in rare form. Sometimes, he was so blunt that audience members would visibly squirm, or the whole room would fall silent, unnerved by his honesty. He hurled playful expletives at his childhood friend Richard Steele, from Chicago public radio outlet WBEZ, who moderated the panel. Straight answers weren’t part of his repertoire. I was immediately impressed.

The Don Cornelius we knew from Soul Train was laid-back, the latest slang bobbing in the waves of his profoundly bass announcer’s voice, always showing the artists respect, asking good questions, giving a conversational, in-your-living-room style to his interviews. This Cornelius was irreverent. He was funny. He was someone who acted like he didn’t need to impress anyone and that he had nothing left to lose. And maybe that was just it…

Cornelius, sporting the hip clothing that became his signature, first made a name for himself and Soul Train on local Chicago television, by spotlighting ‘the city’s rich musical talent. The set was housed in a cramped room with a faulty air conditioner on the 43rd floor of the Chicago Board of Trade”; it was so hot that some of the local dancers would often get nauseous. This was where Cornelius, as the owner and conductor of the train, instituted his signature rolling sign-off: “Love, peace, and souuuul!” It was where many talented dancers became local celebrities and where live television taught Cornelius, the dancers, and the artists to get it right the first time.

Keep reading at Spin!

Love, Peace, and Soul tells the story of the television phenomenon known as Soul Train, a show created in the land of bell bottoms, afros, and soul power; a show that became the touchstone of the Baby Boomer generation. Don Cornelius, host and owner of the show, was one of the coolest cats on television. With his platform shoes, wide neckties, and mellifluous voice, he showed the world just how corny American Bandstand was in comparison. In 2012, fans were shocked to hear one of the most powerful men in the music and television business took his own life.

Love, Peace, and Soul is a celebratory, behind-the-scenes collection of anecdotes, stories, and reflections, from the people who were there, about the host, the show, and the power of black music and dance on television.

Music and television connoisseurs will enjoy the history of not just Soul Train, but of other shows, including Shindig!, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, Hullabaloo, American Bandstand, and Graffiti Rock. Entrepreneurs will be interested in Cornelius’ humble beginnings with the local version of the show in Chicago, created with his own money. Fans will delight in the lively images and the quirky details. The first mass market book on Soul Train since Cornelius’s passing, this volume has something for everyone. Includes afterword by Gary Harris.


How To Make Your Band Sound Great

BobbyAES2Guest Blogger: Bobby Owsinski, author of music guides such as How to Make Your Band Sound Great and Music 3.0Below is an excerpt from How to Make Your Band Sound Great from Bobby’s blog, Music 3.0.

One of the most difficult things in life is to keep everyone happy in a band. In most situations, you’re playing together because of the music that you collectively make, not because you’re friends. That can lead to a number of personality clashes that will need to be resolved, or else you’ll find the band folding right before your eyes. Here’s an excerpt from How To Make Your Band Sound Great (the band improvement book) that covers the 6 steps in resolving a band conflict:

“Being in any relationship requires at least some compromise and a band is no different from what you’d expect between family, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, bosses and co-workers.  There are times where you just have to bend in order to keep the peace.

While compromise is easy for some people, others have a personality that would never allow it and a conflict occurs. Here are some effective steps that you can take to state your case in a way that should resolve the conflict.

1. Cool off first - Conflicts can’t be solved when emotions are running hot. Take some time to get away from the problem for a bit and brainstorm on exactly what the problem is, how it was caused, and most important, a possible solution.

2. Present accolades, support and respect - The first thing to do is acknowledge the person’s accomplishments and talent. Something like, “I want to start by saying that I think the band has never been better since you joined and the parts that you’re singing are way better than I ever expected.”

3. Analysis of why the problem occurred - If you give a clear explanation of why you think there’s a problem or why the problem or conflict has occurred, you set the initial groundwork for solving the conflict. If the other person knows exactly what your side of the story is, you might find more often than not that you’re both on the same page, but on different sides of it.

Read the next 3 points on Bobby’s Music 3.0 blog!



How to Make Your Band Sound Great

This book explores every aspect of playing with other musicians, including the equipment, hardware, and software used in today’s increasingly complex technological world, and the principles of sound every musician needs to know to work at the level of a professional band.

5 Social Media Myths Busted

Bobby OwsinskiGuest Blogger: Bobby Owsinski, author of helpful music guides such as Music 3.0 or The Music Producer’s HandbookBelow is an excerpt from his music industry blog, Music 3.0.

There’s a lot of myths when it comes to social media, and most continue to be retold as truths. Let’s bust 5 of the bigger ones. I’ve personally busted these with my own testing, but there’s a lot of research to back them up as well.

Myth 1: Get as many friends/followers as you can. What good is it if you have 30,000 Twitter followers and only 30 care about what you’re posting? The quality of these friends and followers is more important than the quantity.

Myth 2: The more you post, the better. Study after study has found that the less you post, the more effective it is. Once again, it’s the quality of the post that counts, not the quantity.

Myth 3: You should focus on social media and forget about your website. If fact, your website should be the center of your online universe and all of your social media sites should point to it.

For the last two myths, go to Bobby’s blog, Music 3.0!


Music 3.0:  A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age is a completely updated edition of the original best seller, featuring the latest music business and social media concepts as well as brand-new interviews with a variety of the industry’s top movers and shakers.

360 Degree Deal

stevegordonGuest Blogger: Steve Gordon, author of The Future of the Music BusinessCheck out his blog for more music industry advice.

360 degree deals present major disadvantages for artists, but faced with a choice of the 360 versus no deal, the 360 may be worth accepting – but only if properly negotiated and only if the major pitfalls touched upon in this article are avoided.

First, let me give every artist and manager a quick primer on what a 360 degree deal is. Basically, the 360 is an exclusive recording contract between a record company and an artist in which, in addition to monies from sales of the artist’s recorded music, the label shares in other income streams such as touring and live performance, merchandise, endorsements, appearances in movies and TV, and if the artist also writes songs, publishing.

In fact, most 360 deals have catch-all phases giving the label a financial interest in everything else that the artist does in the entertainment business.

A traditional recording agreement only provides an income stream for the label from record sales. But similar to the traditional recording agreement, under the 360 deal the label acquires the copyrights in the artist’s recordings and options for multiple albums. The 360 deal also usually includes all the same deductions from record royalties as the traditional deal, including producer royalties and reductions for packaging, “net sales,” foreign sales, midprice and budget records, and even “new technology.” (originally applied to CD royalties and now to digital sales).

The traditional recording agreement had a lot of bad stuff in it for the artist. The 360 deal usually has all of that, and a lot more.

 Origins & Reason D’Etra

The 360 deal is not new. The first reported one was English recording star Robbie Williams’ deal with EMI in 2002. But in the last few years 360 deals have become common place. New artists signing with a major label or their affiliates can expect it as a matter of course. The reason for the prevalence of the 360 deal is the dramatic decline in income from sales of recorded music.

Income from sales of pre-recorded music reached its peak in 1999 at approximately 14.5 billion dollars. By 2012 that amount had shrunk to only approximately $7 billion — a decline of more than 50% not accounting for inflation.

Read more on Steve Gordon’s blog!

The Future of the Music Business – Third Edition provides a legal and business road map for success in today’s music business by setting forth a comprehensive summary of the rules pertaining to the traditional music business, including music licensing, as well as the laws governing online distribution of music and video.