As a teenager, rocker Lita Ford built her own guitar amp from her father's tape recorder.
Elvis Presley played electric bass on "Baby You're So Square" during a 1957 recording session because bassist Billy Black couldn't play with his fingers.
Stax Records executive Al Bell wrote "Send Home Peace and Harmony" for his close friend, the Reverend Martin Luther King. Memphis was only three blocks away when King was assassinated.
Trevor Rabin has revealed that he wrote British rock band Yes' 1980s song 'Lonely Heart' while in the bath.
Trumpeter and bandleader Ray Anthony (turned 101 in January) was repeatedly fired by senior bandleader Glenn Miller, who objected to his off-hours activities but enjoyed playing.
These are just a few of the treasured discoveries of music memorabilia and memorabilia in Karlovy Vary.
Through its Oral History Program, the National Association of Music Marketers (NAMM) has obtained a rich and diverse collection of stories, recordings and audio from musicians and other influences in the music world.
For 23 years, NMM historian Dan Del Fiorentino has collected gems of music history from instrumentalists, musicians, sound engineers, producers, retailers, promoters, composers, writers and others who played a key role in the changing world of music. . .
He has interviewed legends such as Quincy Jones, Lena Horne, Emmylou Harris, Les Paul, Pete Seeger, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Herbie Hancock. Trivial Pursuit has enough musical material and understated minutes to amp up the music game.
On September 16, Del Fiorentino conducted his 5,000th interview with Grand Ole Opry Chief Sound Engineer Kevin McGinty at the Oral History Library in Nashville.
Del Fiorentino and his wife, Susan McGinty, went up to the third floor to record the conversation they interviewed for this video. Surrounded by sound equipment, he tells his story and shares his wisdom, all captured on video for posterity.
Del Fiorentino has produced nearly 100 of NAMM's top 5,000 oral histories over the years. He conducts a staggering 230 in-depth interviews per year.
His job is to capture the essence of people, what they do well and why they change the world of music. Almost 200 interviews were conducted by Del Fiorentino as a teenager working at San Francisco radio stations, including Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton and Lena Hoare.
In 1984, he gave his first interview with Louis Armstrong trombonist James "Trummy" Young at a jazz concert in Palo Alto. Del Fiorentino was the last person to interview Young, who died two months later.
Del Fiorentino continued the interview when he moved to San Diego to attend SDSU. "I was really enjoying writing some of these stories, and I knew that if I didn't, they would be lost." He called many of his heroes "unsung heroes in the spotlight."
His first interview with NAMM took place in March 2000, on the opening day of the museum. Harmonica designer and player Bill Walden was one of those present, so Del Fiorentino pulled him aside to play.
Not all of his figures are "living" legends – some have passed away, while del Fiorentino lost his life while interacting with his wife, children, employers, friends and acquaintances. Leo Fender is one of them.
"What kind of person is he and what drives him?" Del Fiorentino asked. Those who were introduced to the first electric guitars, basses and amplifiers were still there, changing the music and telling stories.
Del Fiorentino believes that perhaps a fifth of the original 5,000 sources have died, stressing the importance of not procrastinating on your notes.
He had a list of 1,700 people he wanted to meet – at least five years at his current rate – and new people kept coming.
When he knocked, the door opened. "A lot of people realize it means a lot to them," he said. “The music industry is their life. It is an honor for them that their stories are always connected to our archive."
Del Fiorentino did extensive research. He might ask the sound engineer how some of the blurry sounds in the recording were created. “We have a lot of headgear…we cover a lot of the chess pieces that people in the music industry really like. That's why we're trying to cover them, pushing the whole story forward."
As a child, Del Fiorentino was fascinated by Elvis' 45-minute recording of "That's All." But he was surprised to see a picture of Elvis with an acoustic guitar instead of the electric guitar he heard on the tape. His research led him to electric guitarist Scotty Moore, who he later interviewed for NAMM.
Another shocking revelation came from Fred Kaliska, a Canadian who sells musical instruments including maracas from Mexico and electric guitars from Japan. At one point, Kaliski, from Poland, folded his arms to reveal the many tattoos on his arms reminding him of his escape from the Nazi occupation.
"It's amazing for me to deal with these people… Even if I ask stupid questions, they take the time to try to answer what I'm trying to say."
His wife, Susan, a former psychiatric nurse, studied videography to accompany him on the trip. He gave his time.
"It always makes them cry," she says of her husband's ability to probe the surface.
One of my favorite interviews is with Anna Sipawicz, who worked at the Wurlitzer factory in DeKalb, Illinois in the early 1940s. When his company joins the war effort, one day he receives a secret and is taken to a broken airplane wing. "I got to meet and interview Rosie the Riveter in person," Del Fiorentino said.
Susan's favorite composer is Hall of Famer Alla Willis, a colorful character, actress and set designer known for throwing spectacular parties at her Hollywood mansion.
Oral history is important to families who find a loved one when searching for biological materials after their death, as well as to filmmakers and biographers. Writer Holly George-Warren Joplin quoted from NAMM “Janice! His life and music.
Del Fiorentino himself was one of the influential people he interviewed before retiring.
After two decades dedicated to highlighting the lives and experiences of music producers and marketers across the country, it deserves its place in NAMM's oral history collection.
This story originally appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.