05 April 2009

A Sampling of Manny's Mourners

Though New York mainstream press continues to ignore the story of the Music Row legend Manny's coming closure this May, the many devotees of the W. 48th Street store continue to mourn the store's end on a daily basis. My original posting, on Feb. 20, has now logged dozens of comments, with one or two arriving each day as musicians around the nation awake to the unsettling news.

I thought, given the sincere regret which which many of these comments are invested, it might be worth spotlighting a few of the more remarkable. Quite a few stories here. Here follows a sampling:

Through the years, met Peter Frampton (before "... comes alive"), Chris Squire, Bo Diddley, Pete Townshend, Leslie West and more, at Manny's back in the 70's ... a thrill for a kid aspiring to play guitar! Very sad indeed!—Todd Wolfe

Very sad indeed. As a kid I worked for Buddah /Kama Sutra records just a few blocks away at 1650 Broadway at that time. I would go there with the Kelly Isley of the Isley Brothers. It was as much as a meeting place as it was the store to purchase an instrument.—Ian M. Marlowe

I grew up in Hackensack, NJ . We used to play hooky and take the bus to NYC and spend the better part of the day at Manny's. I can still visualize Henry walking around the store and calling out to one of the employees to bring down a guitar from upstairs. How about that beat up yellow Danelectro (?) solid body guitar that everyone would play when trying out different amps. I bought alot of equipment there in the 60's, my first wah wah pedal (Vox), a Maestro fuzz tone, after hearing Satisfaction on the radio. I remember buying a used 63' Gretsch Country Gentleman from Henry for $325 in 1967. The store is a musical landmark for sure. I met Elliot Randall and Gene Cornish there. One time I remember seeing a new set of drums up against a side wall with Ringo Starr's name stenciled across each case. I think we waited at least two hours hoping he might pick them up himself. I'm sorry to see it go. Hey, the Stones live in the city, maybe they could buy the building and preserve it as piece of musical history.—Rob Heinick

Ed Pomerant was at Manny's the day the Beatles Crew came in to pickup the Ludwig Drums and A Zilgan Cymbals for the Ed Sullivan show the next day. I decided to get the identical set of Gray Pearl but they only had the Blue Pearl left. Manny himself waited on me.—Ed

I was playing at the Lone Star Cafe in 1981...forgot a bag of guitar cables & stompboxes at our previous gig in Baltimore. One call to Manny's, and they set me right up, then wouldn't take back the gear afterwords...said it was their contribution to our band!!! Let's see a music store do something like that today!!! What a bummer!!!—Mike Armstrong

In 1972, my fiancĂ©e took me to Manny’s to buy me an engagement present, where this cool little Jazz Guitar playing dude sold me a Baldwin Ode Banjo. 18 years later I went there to find something special, and the same Jazz Guitar playing dude sold me a white Gibson J-200 guitar that I have never seen any other place.—Eric Hilton

Back as an early teen, my late brother and I would hop on the A- Train from the Heights and 'go aching' (a semi-rhyming slang thing for 'forty EIGHTH') meaning we were going down to 48th to 'ache' for the gear we couldn't actually afford in the windows of Manny's and the other music shops on the street. Topped off with an Orange Julius, it made for a fun afternoon.

The thing about Manny's was back then you couldn't actually touch the guitars. You'd come in the store, point to a guitar you wanted to see and say 'let me try that one'. Billy, the old jazz cat who worked the counter back then, would reply 'You gonna buy it today'? Of course you weren't, so that would be that. The policy got more relaxed in later years (or maybe we just got older and looked like we had some coin).

The old yellow Danelectro 'tester' guitar (which is now in pieces behind plexiglas in the store) should be donated to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Everyboy who is anybody in the business has touched that guitar; it's like the Blarney Stone of the music industry. —Glenn "G Man" Govier

In 1978, I met BB King at Manny's. I had seen him the night before at the Bottom Line. I was in the market for a guitar and was trying out the Gibson model that BB played (ES 355), when he walked in to buy a case. I got to say hello, shake his hand, tell him I much I loved the show. (Then I went down the block and bought a '63 ES 175 from Alex.)

That's the kind of place it was -- where you could see a show the night before, one that changed your life, and then run into the star buying a case. At Manny's. —Brendan

It's getting really bad as the other post states, CBGB'S , Roxy and on to the Studios. I started at The Record Plant on 44th in NYC then The Hit Factory on 48th st. As the trees fall now the last hold out goes away, MANNYS MUSIC its freaking bad. I bought my first Gibson ES-335 at Manny's in the early 70's. From the places to purchase to the places we made music in to the places to we had fun in. IT'S ALL GOING AWAY..SAD TIMES WE HAVE. What next US? As Frank Zappa said "here come the Brain Police" —Howie Lindeman


RI 360 said...

I walk past Manny's almost every day taking my child to school. My wife, his mom, is a flutist and composer, so we are quite familiar with Manny's and Music Row. It will be a loss to see Manny's go.

Anonymous said...

I am a tenor sax player and have lived in NYC since 1972. Beyond sad how this city is changing for the worst. All the history and what makes the place special and interesting is disappearing to big money real estate interests.

Gary Kemp said...

This is very sad news. I still have the Martin D-35 acoustic guitar (with original Manny's guitar strap!)I bought there in 1971. I was in school in Wisconsin at the time, but came back to NY specifically to go to Manny's. I must have tried out eight of them before making a decision, but many years and gigs later it still sounds great. Manny's was unique, we won't see anything quite like it again.

Anonymous said...

My uncle took me to Manny's the day after the 76 black-out. I had never been to a NYC music store having grown up in the suburb New Canaan, CT. I will never forget the frantic pace of that store or the Tele Deluxe I left there with that day.

I will take my musician son there in the next week to let him gaze along the wall at the pitures of Rock's legends who have purchased from Manny's.

How very sad.

Anonymous said...

Today 4/06/09 it is being reported
on the Channel 11 evening news
that Mannys and other like buildings
are being bought up by"The Rockefeller's Brothers Group".
Very sad as we pick away at each
neighborhood in all the borough's
of this city,what cultural history
will be next?.
Where are the fancy dandy musicians
in the biz trying to save 48th street from the expanding plague
of hi rise buildings.
Bloomberg the Emperor,must be smiling his friends will get more
land to develop in the building
and realty business.