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Big Poppa

History Part two....

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So now we know that Sherwood became Ernie. From there my dad got married to a singer from Oklahoma. They had a son Sherwood and then the Korean war broke out. My grandpa had a pal at the draft board who told him that Ernie was pretty much next. My grandpa had another pal in the union who told him that there was an opening in the Air Force Marching Band in Chandler, Arizona for a bass drum player. PERFECT! Steel guitar/Bass drum, no problem.

Off to the Airforce where by day he marched with the drum and at night he played gigs with my mom as the singer. Along came my brother David. So now he is 23 wqith two kids and he gets polio. Polio and marching didnt work too well.

While he was in Arizona he heard about the radio repairman named Leo Fender that was making these solid body electric guitars and steel guitars. My Dad took leave and drove to Fullerton and he and Leo hit it off. My Dad thought this was the best thing he had seen. From there he beta tested for Leo, became and endorser and when he got out of the Air Force he became one of the the first Fender dealers. He quickly learned that not everyone shared his passion for Leo's designs. The first store was a little dump that served as a teaching studio for both guitar and accordian.

Teaching was always a passion for my Dad. His Phase one and Two How to Play the Guitar are still huge sellers and he personally taught thousands of players through the fifties and sixties. In the day he taught and did sessions and at night he gigged and played on live TV shows.

He was staff guitarist at both KTLA in Los Angeles and Disney studios. Through his session work he would get the other players to come to his shop and he would set up their guitars. From there they would buy thier guitars from him because the were set up better than the organ stores that also sold guitars. From there he opened what was the first electric guitar store in the world. People said he would go broke and he did many times. He always paid his bills eventually and finally in 1958 things started to turn around.

By the early sixties folk music hit and so did rock and surf. All of the bands shopped in his little store. As rock came there became a need for more flexible guitar strings and the ability to select the exact gauge that you wanted. Back then the only way to get a .010 or .009 was to buy a banjo string.

My dad went to Leo and begged him to equip the guitars with rock n roll strings and to offer them for sale. Leo said no way that the guitars would buzz too much and that it was a fad. He went to Gibson and they turned him down too. Back to Leo and leo said "Ernie, if you think it is such a good idea I'll sell you the strings and you can do what you want with them."

That is when Slinky's were born.... I'll be back in a few days wil part three……

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