The Storytellers of Our Industry

Each NAMM member has a story to tell and it has been the mission of NAMM’s Resource Center to capture these stories. For the last 19 years, NAMM has been actively archiving the stories of our industry in an effort to preserve these accounts for future generations. In honor of World Storytelling Day we are providing a background on the Oral History Collection and highlighting some memorable stories we’ve gathered.  

History of the NAMM Oral History Program

The Collection is rapidly closing in on its 4,000th interview and seeks to document the “innovative creations, the evolution of musical instruments, the ever-changing world of music retail,” and further our “collective quest to improve music education around the globe.” The Collection features participants from over 72 different countries, 49 U.S. states, all of which were born between 1902 and 1997 and play an invaluable role in our industry.

NAMM’s own Music Historian, Dan Del Fiorentino, conducts each interview. As a teenager, Dan found his knack in both interviewing and in sharing stories on his own radio program in the San Francisco area. Since the first oral history recording in April 2000, Dan has been on a quest to document the history of the music products industry from those who have lived it.

Storytellers within the Collection

Each interview from our vast collection is a unique story that paints a vivid picture of the lives and careers of those within it. In honor of World Storytelling Day, here are just a few interviews with individuals who have a particular knack for capturing the attention of their audience through their brilliant storytelling ability.

Tom T. Hall has perfected the art of storytelling as both a songwriter and composer. Using his talent as a wordsmith, Tom was able to push country music to a new era with songs such as “Harper Valley P.T.A.” Judith Delgado, daughter of former NAMM President, James Kleeman, has a unique ability to capture the spirit and legacy of her father who was critical in establishing NAMM’s Professional Development department. The late Shep Shepherd, co-writer of the instrumental hit “Honky Tonk Part 2” relied on his talent as a musician and songwriter to hone his ability to be an amazing storyteller. Charles Connor sure had some stories to tell during his NAMM Oral History interview- as the original drummer for Little Richard, it was Charles who worked closely with Little Richard to develop that iconic train rhythm that can be heard on many early recordings. Finally, musician and songwriter, Emilio Castillo, best known for his work with Tower of Power, relays a wonderfully compelling story during his 2005 interview about Doc Kupka joining Tower of Power.

Without the efforts of NAMM, Dan, and the Oral History team, thousands of inspiring stories would have been lost to time. These narratives have been utilized to remember friends and family, inspire future generations of musicians, and have provided the foundation to continue the fight for music education, encourage innovation and motivate the world to keep playing.

Who will tell our 4,000th story? Be sure to check back to see who will mark this next milestone.


Elizabeth Dale
Public Relations Coordinator


Dan Del Fiorentino
Music Historian