Just a little while ago I was tooling around my Facebook news feed when I should have been doing something else and learned of an absolutely surprising fact. Apparently, the Sam Ash Music stores that now reside on West 48th Street, a region most famously known as “Music Row” for decades, will be closing up these spaces and heading down to 34th Street around the Penn Station area. They’ll be consolidating all of the shops that now fill this street into one gigantic location.
Now this is not going to happen immediately or overnight so don’t worry music fans because you should still have some time to go to shop and absorb this in the same fashion that many of us used to do as musicians time and time again. It’s going to be a little bit of a process as they get the new space into proper shape to house all of their unique stores. I read how the brass, winds, and drums stores will be the first of the group to move to the new location. They’ll obviously be followed by the guitars and other electronics which seem to be their biggest batch of things offered and while the new place might be awesome to behold I could not help getting a little nostalgic about the news. Here’s why.
As a youth growing up way back when, heading over to Music Row was something I did with my bands or just other musicians I knew and we would get there almost at the stores opening and stay in the region all damned day. Back then it was more than just Sam Ash Music occupying almost all of the retail space and was instead places like Alex Music, Manny’s Music, We Buy and even Electro-Harmonix. This area was like being loose in the toy shop if you played music and if you were a regular you often got to meet many great people who worked at the places and if you were lucky you just might have run into a famous musician of some kind if they happened to be in town and needed something. As a drummer I first used to go to the Professional Percussion Center which I think was around the corner or close by but not exactly on Music Row. Sadly they ripped me and pretty much all their other customers off in what became some big legal brouhaha and after this I became a strictly Sam Ash and Manny’s dude. I loved going into Manny’s because they had all the photos of the bands that were signed and hanging on literally every inch of wall space that you would look at. As a Hard Rock and Metal fan I always smiled a little more when I saw the photos of KISS, Scorpions, Motley Crue and Van Halen along with many more of this kind. Eventually Manny’s would close and Sam Ash Music would take them over. They kept the name for a short time to transition I guess.
This was how you did it if you played anything and needed something for your arsenal. You could likely go to a more local neighborhood shop but that was not the same to a lot of people in my circle. Remember that for us older musicians, there was no online ordering yet. Oh the humanity you must be saying. According to the news that I have read, the Sam Ash building with the parking lot next to it will be torn down and in its space will come a………….condominium (where you expecting something else). I’ll def head over to the new space when its all ready to go, but it’s really kind of sad to know how something that was so unique and so memorable will be a fading memory sooner than we think.
Have any cool stories from Music Row? Please consider leaving them in the comments section.