Library - In Memoriam

Remembering oral history interviewees who have passed away.

Mary Ellin Barrett was the oldest of Irving Berlin’s three daughters and the author of the 1994 book, Irving Berlin: A Daughters Memoir. During her NAMM interview she and her sister Linda Emmet spoke of their father’s business side including his publishing and role as a

Jerry White and his brothers all played musical instruments growing up on their family farm in Wisconsin. Their father was a professional musician who played in popular dance bands. Jerry and his wife, Ellen, both became schoolteachers and Jerry continued to play on the side.

Tommy Morgan played a significant role in elevating the importance and reputation of the harmonica in television, recordings, and motion pictures. Over his 63 year career, Tommy contributed to over 7,000 projects.

Dave Smith was the founder of Sequential Circuits and inventor of the polyphonic synthesizer, the Prophet 5. Dave was also the designer and original pioneer of MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) technology.

Thom Bresh was a Grammy Award nominated country music singer and guitarist. In the early part of his life, Thom worked as an actor and stuntman. He gained stage presence early on, acting as soon as three years old, and starring in Las Vegas at 15.

Mark Dronge was the President of DR Strings and a veteran of the music products industry, having been involved since he was four years old in his father’s retail store!  Mark recalled the accordion boom of the 1940s in his father’s store, which was sold in 1948.  The money his fa

Emerson DeFord was a master craftsman who as a builder designed a number of flutes ranging from student models to professional instruments. As a businessman, he formed a number of well-branded companies including E. L.

Guitar Shorty was born in Houston with the name David Kearney, but found fame with his nickname in the blues world beginning in the 1950s.  He grew up in Florida, where he began playing gigs as a teenager.  After working with the Ray Charles band and Walter Johnson, Shorty releas

Rick Turner was well known for his innovative handcrafted guitars and for pioneering the resurgence of American luthiers in the 1960s and 70s.

Al Jensen began his musical career at the age of 13 playing clarinet in a Vaudeville show. That is, he played until his parents found out where he was playing. His band director convinced Al’s parents that if he switched to an oboe, he would never play such music again