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Chapter 10.18 – Roy Smeck (1900-1994)

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Leroy (Roy) George Smeck  was an American instrumental musician who became a major Vaudeville, radio and recording star as well as a pioneer sound movie performer. Smeck was promoted as the “Wizard of the Strings” for his skill playing the ukulele, banjo, guitar and steel guitar. Smeck was born on February 6, 1900 in Reading, […]

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Chapter 10.15 – Vahdah Olcott-Bickford (1885-1980)

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Vahdah Olcott-Bickford will forever be associated in Martin lore with the Style 44 guitars. However, she was also a well known concert artist and teacher and founded the American Guitar Society in 1923. Ethel Lucretia Olcott was born on October 17, 1885 in Norwalk, Ohio. She moved with her parents to Los Angeles when was […]

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Chapter 10.14 – Napoleon Marache (1818-1875)

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Napoleon Marache was born in Meaux, France on June 15, 1818 and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 18311. He had already exhibited musical aptitude on the violin but switched to playing the guitar in his new country. He became very skilled on the guitar and was considered to be one of […]

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Chapter 10.12 – Lei Lehua (1893-1963)

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Princess Lei Lehua (born Lizzie Kaiama) was a Hawaiian dancer, performer  and teacher. Not much information can be found on Lei Lehua’s early life but the 1910 census recorded that Lizzie Kaiama, and her brother Willie Kaiama, were the adopted children of a Sam Luahine of Honolulu. Lei Lehua extensively toured the United States on […]

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Chapter 10.11 – George C. Krick (1871-1962)

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Another important but little known influence on Martin guitars was provided by George C. Krick, a student of William Foden, who corresponded with Martin over a very long period of time. George C. Krick, a concert guitarist and teacher of classical guitar, was born in Germany in 1871. In 1887 he moved to St. Louis, […]

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Chapter 10.10 – Joseph Kekuku (1874-1932)

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Kekuku was born in 1874 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. While attending the Kamehameha School for Boys in Hawaii, Kekuku, quite by accident, discovered the sound of the steel guitar about 1885.  About 1930 Kekuku wrote the following comments for an advertisement for the guitar teaching method he was promoting while in Chicago: “I originated […]

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Chapter 10.9 – Mekia (Major) Kealakai (1867-1944)

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Mekia (Major) Kealakai was one of the major influences that caused Hawaiian music to become so popular, especially in the period after the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Kealakai was a talented musician, composer and, later, conductor of the Royal Hawaiian Band. Mekia Kealakai was born on October 15, 1867 on Oahu. He was sent […]

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Chapter 10.8 – Ernest Kaai (1881-1962)

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Along with Mekia (Major) Kealakai and Joseph Kekuku, Ernest Kaai was one of the pioneers popularized Hawaiian music. Kaai was a talented musician, teacher, entrepreneur, manufacturer, impresario, booking agent and publisher, of music and numerous method books1. He was probably the foremost proponent of the ukulele at the beginning of the 20th century and published […]

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Chapter 10.7 – Joe Harvey

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Joe Harvey, who styled himself as “America’s Blue Yodeling Cowboy”, was a musician, singer and yodeler who performed on KNX Hollywood and XEBC Agua Caliente (Tijuana, Mexico) during the middle 1930’s. Like many other performers, Joe Harvey wrote to Martin in the hope of getting a special deal on a guitar he wanted to buy. […]

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Chapter 10.6 – Manual Ygnacio Ferrer (ca. 1832-1904)

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From the middle of the 19th century until the early years of the 20th century, Manuel Y. Ferrer was a prolific composer and arranger for the guitar and mandolin as well as a virtuoso guitarist and respected teacher . Although little known today, except in classical guitar circles, Ferrer must rank as one of the […]