Summer NAMM 1985 -- New Orleans!

Guitar players are, by their very nature, very defensive and slow to accept change.  Over the years this has been a pretty consistent theme here at GuitarAttack.  To help illustrate this, we offer this photo review of a great event in the history of GuitarAttack.

That is, in the Summer of 1985, the GuitarAttack Crew traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for our very first NAMM show.

We attended the show with Mr. Ken Huddleston of KK's Music in Tennessee.  This is the NAMM when Mr. Huddleston became a Fender and Gibson dealer.  We've talked about this before -- he was one of the loyal dealers who helped Fender and Gibson through their tough times only to be kicked to the curb.

This NAMM was very different when compared to the recent Nashville NAMM shows.  First, there were actually some real rock stars in the booths and walking around the show.  The booths were not occupied by goons who have never actually been in a band and are trying to convince you that they  a) are in the studio with some happening cats, or b) were in the studio with some happening cats, or c) have a killer MySpace community.  You see, these guys who have the look, and can play arpeggios, but you've never heard of them.  This was clearly not the case in 1985.

Remember that these photos were taken in the days before digital cameras.  We had to be mindful of the fact that we could run out of film at the absolute wrong time.  Therefore, we chose the shots, and, sadly, there were a lot of cool things that didn't get captured on film.

11 October 2007:  We heard this week that Summer NAMM is returning to Nashville in 2008.  How is that for some awesome strategic planning by NAMM?

 So are things the same as they were in 1985, or have they changed forever?  Read on....


Entrepreneur/guitar picker Ken Huddleston has an epiphany on the street in New Orleans.

Changed or Stayed the Same?  Big Changes.

Katrina wrecked New Orleans.  NAMM wrecked Summer NAMM.  Mr. Ken is still in business, with an additional store, in spite of NAMM's best efforts to convince the small retailer that the way to sell instruments is to give lessons in the stores and accept/embrace change.  That is code for the big manufacturers squeezing out the small retailers.


Let's see...I need ten Les Pauls, a few Strats, Mylanta....

Steve Morse at the Ernie Ball booth.  Without a doubt, the best guitarist working the NAMM show...that is Steve, of course.

Truthfully, we were pretty mean to Steve.  Unbelievably, we gave him a hard time.  We had read an article about his unwillingness to eat a big meal prior to playing a show because it slowed him down.  Of course, one of us (who shall remain nameless) asked Steve, "Hey -- did you eat a big meal before you got here?"  Steve was polite, probably cursing us under his breath.

From left to right its Ken, David, Steve, and John

Changed or Stayed the Same?  Same.  Steve Morse is still killer, as is Ernie Ball.  Ken and John can still be counted upon to blurt out the inappropriate!

Hey that myxolydian mode...or a la mode?

Ken and John got to meet Mr. Ted Nugent.  This was a high point of the show for John because Ted was one of his great influences.

Changed or Stayed the Same?  Both.  Ted is a Great American.  He is more outspoken on individual rights that he was back in the day.  Politics have changed, guitar playing is still killer...and better, I think.  John is still into Ted's music, and believes "Stranglehold" may be one of the great moments in Western music.

Hey...are you guys members of the NRA?

Cool!  Two guys from Billy Idol's band.  Young guys:  Billy was the guy singing on the plane in the "Wedding Singer."  The guy on the left with John is Kenny Aaronson.  The reason he is killer is because he played with Rick Derringer, and was the bassist on the Derringer live album.  The dude on the right is Tommy Price, Idol's drummer.  He got our award for the best rock look at the convention.  Actually, a very nice fellow.

Changed or Stayed the Same?  Changed.  These spokesmen actually played on albums, and have a body of work.   

Derringer?  You remember Derringer? Dude!

Here are two rock legends (three?).  The guy on the right is rock bassist to the stars, Rudy Sarzo.  He was super nice, and is probably best known for his gig with Quiet Riot during the "Metal Health" period.  He also played with Ozzy and Whitesnake.  The guy on the right is Tommy Aldridge, double-bass drum monster to the stars.  Mr. Aldridge has played with about everybody, and he was super nice.  I liked his work with Pat Travers on the live album...killer.  Remember the double bass on "Snortin' Whiskey"?

Changed or Stayed the Same?  Same. These guys are still rockin'


That was "Go For What You Know"....

Here is the crew with steel guitar legend Buddy Emmons.  Mr. Emmons agreed to pose with us even though David was trying to cop his licks.

Changed or Stayed the Same?  Changed.  You don't see legends like Buddy Emmons working Summer NAMM these my opinion. this what they call a steel guitar?

How is this for interesting?  Again, as a sample of who we saw, these two photos say a lot.  On the left is rocker J.J. French of the band "Twisted Sister."  He had a pretty good sized "mantourage" with him, but he was pretty polite.  He was a true rock star at the time, and there was a buzz around him.  The man on the right is a true rock legend, and, sadly, there was not a lot of attention paid to him.  Mr. John Entwistle, bassist for the Who, was very kind and spoke to us for a while.

Changed or Stayed the Same?  Changed...see comments above.

Dude...I look different without makeup. WE'RE NOT WORTHY!  WE'RE NOT WORTHY!


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