Story of the Gretsch Guitar • Presentation, 2016
Special Programs • 1h 3m
During this multimedia presentation, Gretsch Company president Fred W. Gretsch, executive vice president and CFO Dinah Gretsch, marketing specialist Joe Carducci, and thumbpicker Joe Hudson share the stage to trace the history of the innovative guitar maker. Held June 24, 2016, the event was presented in support of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s exhibition “American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection” (January 15, 2016, through July 17, 2016).
Friedrich Gretsch founded the Gretsch Company in 1883, making musical instruments in Brooklyn, New York. In 1985, his great-grandson, Fred Gretsch, bought the family business back from the Baldwin Piano Company, relaunching the brand and ushering in an era of high quality and unique design.
On stage at the Museum, Fred Gretsch talks about his family’s involvement in the brand’s history and shares details of the business’s early days, along with photos of the Gretsch Company’s first Williamsburg, Brooklyn, storefront (where the family sold parlor instruments including banjos, drums, and guitars).
Marketing specialist Carducci highlights pivotal moments that led to the brand’s prominence, including the brand’s relationship with Gretsch player (and Country Music Hall of Fame member) Chet Atkins. Carducci also spotlights about how rock & roll (and specifically the Beatles) helped shape Gretsch history.
Dinah Gretsch reminisces about meeting Beatle George Harrison and witnessing recording sessions for the Traveling Wilburys (Harrison’s band with Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison). Rockabilly outfit the Stray Cats and frontman Brian Setzer also get nods as drivers of the brand’s popularity.
Fred Gretsch also remembers a dark chapter in his personal history with the company: hearing that the Gretsch Company had been sold in 1967, when he was still too young to buy it himself. Though he and his wife Dinah were able to buy it back in 1984, he notes that the time of separation from the company was challenging.
Following his opening performance of “Eastbound and Down,” thumbpicker Joe Hudson plays two songs to conclude the program.
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Learn about current exhibitions: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/current-exhibits/
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