25 February 2009

A Little Manny's History

My post last week that Manny's Musical Instrument closing for good in May won Lost City some traffic from unusual corners. The mainstream press took scant notice, but a sea of response from the web's various music-oriented sites and chat rooms rose up like a tidal wave, and it hasn't subsided yet. Sites like ProSoundWeb, BassTalk, BeatGearCavern and Sonormuseum are not happy.

Many of these music fans and professionals noted that Manny's had not been the same place since it was bought on by neighboring rival Sam Ash, and had some snarky things to say about the current staff at the store. The original Manny was Manny Goldrich, a saxophone salesman who founded the store in 1935. His son, Henry, took over the business later, and Henry in turn passed it to his two sons in 1998. Manny died in 1968 at the age of 64.

Manny's has always been known to attract not just serious musicians, but legendary ones. In the early years, it was famous bandleaders and jazz men like Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. Swing Street, after all, was only four blocks away. Later, it sold to performers like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck Chuck Berry and the Beatles. Buddy Holly got his Stratocaster there. Gerry & the Pacemakers would pull up in a limousine and run into the store and hide upstairs to escape the crowds of groupies who had trailed them. Harrison and Starr would hang out and sign autographs. Clapton would hock guitars during lean times. (Those times must have been some time ago.)

A book about the history of the place was published by Henry Goldrich in 2007, with reprint of many of the signed pictures that line the walls of the store.


Mykola Dementiuk said...

Bought my first Gibson guitar back around 1966 or so. Graham Nash was buying his guitar there too. There was a wealth of music stores on that block years ago. Can imagine what the other block, 52nd Street, looked like when it was filled with bars and clubs.

Signed D.C. said...

Mykola, do you recall if Mr. Nash was accompanied by any other Hollies? My dreamboat Tony Hicks perhaps?