Tag Archives: Fred Gretsch

Fred Gretsch Receives Honorary Degree from Elmhurst College


Fred W. Gretsch, fourth-generation leader of a family business that has helped shape American music history, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Elmhurst College at the school’s Spring Commencement over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

An Elmhurst alumnus, Gretsch is also president of the Gretsch Company, which was founded by his great-grandfather in 1883 and continues to make guitars and drums for musicians who appreciate “That Great Gretsch Sound,” top-quality craftsmanship, and classic style.

Elmhurst College confers honorary degrees on individuals whose commitments and achievements embody the College’s mission, vision, and core values. Fred Gretsch was recognized for his ongoing contributions to the music industry, as well as to his and his family’s stated mission, which is “to enrich people’s lives through participation in music.”

Fred, his wife and business partner Dinah, his family company, and the Gretsch Foundation have been generous supporters of Elmhurst College and its Department of Music. That support has funded a variety of scholarships, as well as the state-of-the-art Sylvia and William Gretsch Recording Studio (established in 1987 to honor Fred’s parents). In 1993, the Gretsch Electric Guitar Ensemble became a regular element of the music program, and in 2015, arrangements were made for the music department’s ensembles to perform exclusively on Gretsch drum kits. Gretsch has also been a major supporter of the annual Elmhurst College High School Invitational Jazz Festival.

“Fred Gretsch’s support has helped us develop one of the top music business programs in the country, from the Gretsch Music Business Student Scholarship fund to his multiple gifts that have allowed us to build and continually upgrade our state-of-the art Gretsch Recording Studio,” said Elmhurst College Music Business Program director Tim Hays. “The College, the Music Department, and generations of students have benefited from his vision and generosity.”

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Joseph Emmick added, “We’re pleased to honor Fred Gretsch. Who better to receive an honorary degree than someone who has distinguished himself in his service to the musical community? Fred and Dinah together form one of the music industry’s most formidable teams, and their international success enhances Elmhurst College’s reputation across the globe.”

After receiving his honorary degree Fred Gretsch said, “I’m grateful and I’m honored. When it comes to enriching people’s lives through music around the country and around the world, I recognize that Elmhurst is a great place to start. I look forward to working with the college to create more music-makers in the generations ahead.”

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Q&A with Duane Eddy


Fred Gretsch’s company website, Gretsch.com, recently posted a wonderful Q&A with King of Twang Duane Eddy.

In the piece, Eddy chats with interviewer Ron Denny, covering a variety of topics including his longtime career, influence on other artists, working with George Harrison, and how he feels about his Gretsch guitars.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

What circumstances led to you and George Harrison crossing paths and working together in the ’80s?

In 1986, the Art of Noise decided to do a remake of “Peter Gunn” which had been a hit for me back in 1959. So, I flew over to England with my guitar and opened up the guitar on “Peter Gunn” for the Art of Noise and it was a worldwide hit. As a result of that, I went to a few shows with them, one of which was the Montreux Rock Festival in Switzerland. Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra and I met backstage and Jeff said, “I know after this hit you’ll be doing an album and I’d love to be a part of it, whatever you’d like me to do. Write, play, produce, anything I can do to help. I’d love to do a few tracks with you.” And I said, ”Okay, I’ll keep that in mind,” and took his number.

Sure enough, later that year I got an album deal with Capital Records. So I did a couple tracks with the Art of Noise, one with Ry Cooder, and then I called Jeff Lynne and said, “Well you were right, I got the album deal. Do you still want to work on some things?” He says, “I would love to Duane, but I’m working with George Harrison at the moment on his new album.” He says, “I’m just all wrapped up in that and I wouldn’t be able to.” I said, “Fine, no problem.”

I hung up and forgot about it. Twenty minutes later the phone rings and he says, “It’s Jeff. Well, I told George we were talking and I told him you just called me and asked me to help with the album, and George wants to put his album on hold and do yours, do a couple of tracks with you.” I said, “Great, we’ll be over next week.”

This was on your 1987 Duane Eddy album?

Yes. My wife Deed and I, and my ’57 Gretsch, flew over and went to George’s house and recorded three tracks with George. One of them was a song that Ravi Shankar had hummed to him. It had a flat note at the end and George said, “That’s the greatest note I ever heard.”  I said, “Yeah, that’s very interesting.” So I took that line and finished writing that part, then put in a middle part which was not weird, but rather ordinary and common to offset that weird part, and it became “The Trembler.” It was used in Natural Born Killers in a real dark scene with tumbleweeds blowing and rattlesnakes and a dust storm and all that. It was very effective.

You’re so strongly identified with your ’57 6120. How do you feel when you see another Gretsch?

Basically I just love them and it’s like coming home. It’s like seeing a family member. I don’t care where it is, if it’s in a pawnshop or a guy’s house. I’m immediately drawn to it, especially if it’s a hollow body. And, when I see a 6120, I wonder if it’s as good as my ’57, if it has that same slim neck.

Read the full piece here, and be sure to also check out a journal entry by Fred Gretsch about his relationship with Eddy here.

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Ken Yokoyama Visits Gretsch Reps in Japan


Japanese singer/songwriter Ken Yokoyama has been carrying the banner of punk-rock music in his home nation for a long time – first as guitarist for the massive pop-punk outfit Hi-Standard and later as a solo artist.

Recently, Yokoyama met with Jeff Cary and Joe Carducci from Gretsch, as well as Fred Gretsch himself to talk about some of the new Gretsch models that he’s been interested in.

Stay tuned for some more exciting news from Yokoyama and Gretsch – rumor has it that a signature guitar could be in the works – but in the meantime, check out some photos of the punk icon during his visit below.

For more information on Yokoyama, click here.

Ken Yokoyama Gretsch

Ken Yokoyama (L) and Fred Gretsch

Ken Yokoyama

Ken Yokoyama and Joe Carducci going over a Custom Shop Duo Jet.

Ken Yokoyama

Ken Yokoyama and members of the Gretsch team.

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Parade Interviews Fred Gretsch About Beatlemania


Fred GretschFifty years ago, on Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles made their U.S. television debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. With George Harrison rocking a Gretsch Duo Jet that night, business skyrocketed for Gretsch guitars.

President and CEO Fred Gretsch recently spoke with Parade about how Beatlemania transformed his family-owned company.

“Overnight, thousands of garage bands were created that wanted to emulate the Beatles…[Demand] went up 25 percent,” said Gretsch. “You know, the baby boom generation was teenagers at that point in time. Rock and roll had begun mid-’50s [and] was gaining steam, [so] everybody was prepped and focused on the Beatles when they arrived…everybody was ready for them.”

Read the full interview here.

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2013: A Year of Celebrations for Gretsch’s 130th Anniversary


Courtesy of Gretsch.com

2013 marked Gretsch’s 130th Anniversary – a milestone that has been celebrated with a wide variety of activities and events throughout the year. Below is a look at some of the celebrations that have made this anniversary so spectacular!

Announcing The Celebration
To ignite the celebration, Fred Gretsch sent out a message to the music world, inviting everyone to join the entire Gretsch family in celebrating their 130th year in the business.

“When my great-grandfather, Friedrich Gretsch, opened his instrument-making shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., back in 1883, he couldn’t know that he was establishing a musical dynasty that has continued over four generations,” said Fred Gretsch.

In January at the 2013 NAMM show in Anaheim, Calif., the Gretsch Custom Shop launched the beautiful G6118T 130th Anniversary model guitar. It turned out to be a gorgeous instrument, with a high-gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish in Metallic Gold on the top and Black on the back and sides. The guitar also boasted multiple silver-sparkle bindings.

The anniversary guitars were made even more special by the addition of a badge that boldly announced the company’s 130th year as a manufacturer.

“It’s a striking design and I’m proud to see it on our instruments,” Gretsch said at the time.


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