MUSIC ROW, West 48th Street

by Kevin Walsh

31 comments

Ross June 3, 2014 - 10:35 am

From my father telling the story of spotting Jimi Hendrix in Manny’s on an afternoon of skipping high school to purchasing my soprano sax from John Baltimore’s woodwind shop, 48th street holds a special place in my heart.

Reply
Bassmanbob June 4, 2014 - 1:02 pm

Bought my ’78 Gibson Les Paul Custom in Black from Manny’s as part of the Frampton Craze! Stolen from the trunk of my car in ’91. Sigh, still miss it.

Reply
Tal Barzilai June 4, 2014 - 6:09 pm

Let’s just hope that a developer doesn’t destroy this good architecture to build some typical glass tower in their place.

Reply
Dan June 5, 2014 - 8:49 pm

In 1966, I bought a Rickenbacker 12-string at Gracins Music (which, if memory serves me, was more or less directly across the street from today’s Rudy’s).

Gracins and nearly all of the other instrument shops are long gone. But I still own the Rickenbacker — and still have the sales receipt from ’66.

Reply
Dipe Fux August 27, 2014 - 6:01 am

In the 80ies and 90ies I bought much gear in this street..at Manny´s I bought my first Roland sampler in the 80ies…at Sam ASH also different keys.
When I visited this street in 2013 (after 17 years) in Manhattan l was shocked.

Reply
Mauri September 11, 2014 - 4:09 pm

I bought my first Tom Anderson guitar at Manny’s. I remember the guy who sold me…Ray Carozza! Every time I come back to NYC I visit 48th street, and every time a store disappears. Last June I couldn’t believe…Manny’s was gone.
I still remember once back in 2002, I was there with a friend who then bought a terrific PRS. We spent the whole day playing guitars in those stores. Do you guys remember “48th street custom guitars”?? It was a small store next to Manny’s if I remember right.

Reply
Michael February 23, 2015 - 2:21 pm

I was there in 1977. I really wanted a Les Paul. Mannys just overwhelmed me – I was only 19 and just couldn’t bring myself to go in. I ended up in Sam Ash and came out with an old SG which I didnt really appreciate. The one that got away though was across the street in a pawn shop. A 57 black beauty for $400!!! In Sam Ash they were handing out Les Paul’s like confetti that day $ 450 each.

Reply
Mike in fla via Bklyn April 18, 2015 - 3:52 pm

1974. My brother-in-law shopping for a Martin D35, I figured I’d go along for the ride. Glad I did.
Checked out all the stores for the best deal. Went into Manny’s because you had to. After all,
it was like going to Coney Island and not getting a hot dog or riding the Cyclone! We witnessed George Harrison strumming on an acoustic at Manny’s. See what I mean? We wound up going a few doors down to Terminal Music, getting the Martin for $25 less at $450. Now a days add about 2 grand or more.

Reply
Cliff Niesen June 29, 2015 - 6:57 pm

All the old land mark building that had masonic symbolism. All the ancient sites special places like I believe it was many’s it was on the second floor up a narrow stairway. They work on Guitars built them . Two old guys. Its a shame on all the wealthy to tear up a place that almost did not happen if not for the beaver trade! I move away to florida. I could not stand land marks that made new York City what it was yanked out like a rotten tooth! Edgar Allan Poe’s house across the street what we now know as a library . It was going to be torn down to make dorms for NYU.Built as a movie palace in 1927, the Academy of Music on East 14th Street, at Third Avenue, was a place where Lower East Siders would watch first-run features in grand style. Promoter Sid Bernstein, who brought the Beatles to America, understood the 3,000-seat hall’s potential: in the mid-1960s, he regularly booked British Invasion bands like the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and Herman’s Hermits there. Manfred Mann, on the charts with “Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” would share a bill with the Exciters, the American group that first recorded the tune to little notice.

Renamed the Palladium in 1976, the hall became a full-time rock venue where the career of classic rocker Gary U.S. Bonds was jump-started after Bruce Springsteen invited him to sit in during a show. By 1985, it was converted into a nightclub; it closed in 1997 and was demolished. Today the Palladium name remains on a New York University residence hall.

But 40 years ago, on New Year’s Eve 1973, the building rocked with a lineup that featured Blue Öyster Cult and Iggy and the Stooges. Glam rockers Teenage Lust were scheduled to open the show but instead had to follow a last-minute addition: Kiss. The band that would become famous for its face paint and pyrotechnics made its big-venue debut as fire-breathing bass guitarist Gene Simmons set his hair aflame.

Here are some remembrances of that show and others. Think Academy theatre were the Beatles played the Stones KinksIggy Pop! torn down! Renamed the Palladium! I was raised in new york in 1973 I was like 7 years old. It was a real place with true artist now just yuppies thinking if they move in our homes that we wanted out of because it was a slum yuppies now rent a studio cut in half for $5000 dollars. Maybe a Roach bite that bit Kieth Richards will make you like spiderman. Koroach man! It was better a slum because its now a prison!

Reply
John November 1, 2017 - 10:58 am

In the 80s on any Saturday, you could go there and see some famous guitar player grinding out a deal in one of those shops.
There had to be a dozen of them at any given time, so if you kinda ran back and forth, you could see somebody.
I saw Bo Diddley walking out of Manny’s.
He was one of many.

Reply
Jan January 2, 2018 - 8:01 pm

165-166 48th that house Manny’s was originally called The Tavern owned by the “host of Broadway” my grandmother’s brother Billy Lahiff. He ran the Tavern all through Prohibition (raided at least twice) and up until his death in 1934. Billy bought the buildings for $300,000 in 1922 after successfully running and selling several NYC restaurants. During its time as the Tavern, the upstairs apartments were rented to such celebrities as Ed Sullivan (a young cub reporter at the time), Walter Winchell (columnist connected with Owney Maddon NY’s Number One Gang Leader of Prohibition Era. “His intimacy with criminals caused him to fear he would be ‘rubbed out’ for ‘knowing too much.'”), Ed & Sylvia Sullivan (Columnist and future TV personality, The Ed Sullivan Show), Damon Runyan (writer, well-known newspaper reporter, covering sports and general news), Bugs Baer (NYC Sports Journalist), Sherman Billingsley (Prohibition Rum Runner, Owner of The Stork Club,) and famous prize fighter Jack Dempsey. The Tavern became a popular spot for successful Broadway actors and well known sports figures such as Dempsey and Al Jolson.
In the Tavern, Billy introduced a young Broadway dancer to Willard Mack and she went on to become a successful Hollywood star known as Barbara Stanwyck. His niece Ann Veronica Lahiff also went on to be a successful star in early films and was the first to sing and dance in a talkie. Her name was changed to Nancy Carroll. So long before the days of Manny’s those walls were recording stories that have long since been forgotten. I hope they never tear it down, but like you I fear that they will.

Reply
Lou Mancuso Jr. March 3, 2018 - 2:47 pm

Breaks my heart to know that Manny’s is gone. Not that I was their best customer but I used to go with my dad from over 50 years ago, and my father was a customer since it first opened. He was a guitar maker in Woodstock and passed away 4 years ago at the ripe old age of 96. He made me his final guitar a month before he died. Some of his guitars are, or have been in Rudy’s under Mancuso Guitars. I was 12 in 1964 and like so many, fascinated by the Beatles and Ringo in particular. He took me to Blooms downtown to get my first Japanese Zim-Gar set. 2 years later he took me to Manny’s to buy my first Ludwig set. I was like a musical kid in a candy store. So many choices of colors but I wanted the black oyster pearl set like Ringo. Sadly, so did everybody else. I had to settle on Champaign sparkle. I’ve bought other sets from Manny’s over the years (Pearl, Tama, even had them order me a Sonar set) but nothing will match the memories of me and my dad talking music in Manny’s. I’ve still got my black Manny’s tee shirt but only wear it in special occasions. Until it and my memories are gone, Manny’s will never be gone from 48th street.
By the way, after my father passed, I treated myself to that Ludwig black oyster pearl Ringo set that I wanted 50 years ago. I had to go to Memphis Drum Shop (another landmark in music) to get it. Long live the independent music shop

Reply
Bert Boot June 3, 2018 - 3:40 am

Dear sir,

I was 27 years old in 1989 and as a semi pro guitar player grom Amsterdam I had to go to 48 street to see all this paradise-like shops. Its sad to hear this is no more.
Now my graduated son is going to visit New York and I saved some euro’s to get him his first American Telecaster.
What’s a good place to go to experience this overwhelming feeling of walking around in guitar-paradise nowadays?

With regards,

Bert Boot
Amsterdam (europe)

Reply
James March 10, 2018 - 3:27 pm

I bought my 1975 Strat in Manny’s in 1976, along with a EHX Ram’s Head Big Muff and a Small Stone Phase Shifter; I still have them all. I give the Salesman a couple of doobies as a tip & he said it was the best tip he ever received. Also got my Gibson J/50 there 2 years later. It was the day they let me play their old black Danelectro house Guitar, well before it was a “hands-off” axe. Superb memories shopping and window-shopping on that world famous street. It’s well missed for sure.

Reply
Paul Gletow March 22, 2018 - 6:32 pm

I purchased my Sunburst Fender Stratocaster from Jimmy’s Music Store in December 1961. He had the cases stacked flat 10 high and was asking $210. with case and tremolo arm. I only had $200 and he let me have it for that. I was 13 years old and at the beginning of my professional music career. That guitar followed me around until 1982 when I sold it to Sam Ashe in Paramus NJ for $1,000. for a down payment on my summer home. Great Guitar , Great Memories. Missing what 48th was; also saddened to hear the Mandolin Bros. Store is up for sale in Staten Island. Hope some of you can appreciate our time and the memories from the music of our time.

Reply
Artie Withers January 10, 2019 - 7:52 pm

My father bought me a Gretsch Tennessean at Jimmy”s in 1962. I remember the cases stacked up. I think he paid $225 for it. I still have it

Reply
kjatexas June 16, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Bought my first Fender, a Jazzmaster, from Jimmy’s in I think ’62. I seem to remember Jimmy’s being right down the street from Manny’s.

Reply
Billy July 8, 2018 - 9:48 pm

In Sept 1965 we had come to the City from Dayton, Ohio, looking for a record deal & ended up staying at the Bristol across the street from Manneys (we worked around the corner on 7th at the Metropole) Eventually we bought two Super Beatles & a Foundation Bass from Henry at a 40% discount off what music stores back home were asking for the same amps. Surprisingly, long haired groups like us were relatively rare in NYC at that time, so when a local TV station (WNBC I think) approached Henry wanting to do a news story on long haired musicians, Henry ask us if we would do it & of course, we said yes. So Henry closed the upstairs to allow the TV crew to set up & we came over & filmed the spot, doing a hum-a-long low key version of the Beatles “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” while the interviewer ask the band leader questions about why we wore our hair long.

Reply
Billy July 9, 2018 - 4:17 am

In late August 1965 we had come to the City from the Dayton, Ohio, area looking for a record deal & ended up staying at the Bristol across the street from Manneys (we auditioned & got a job around the corner on 7th at the Metropole). Eventually we bought two Super Beatles & a Foundation Bass from Henry at about a 40% discount off what music stores back home were asking for the same amps. Surprisingly, long haired groups like ours were somewhat rare in the City at that time (most of the local club players seemed to prefer DAs), so when a Manhattan TV station (WNBC I think, not sure) approached Henry wanting to do a news story on long haired musicians, he ask us if we would do it & of course, we said yes–so Henry closed the upstairs to allow the TV crew to set up & we came over & filmed or taped the spot, doing a very low key hum-a-long version of the Beatles “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.” While we played/hummed this in the background, the interviewer asked the lead guitar player questions about why we wore our hair long–also, this same guitar player later bought a blond 12 string Rickenbacker from Henry.

Reply
Paul Gletow July 22, 2018 - 11:41 am

In 1961 I purchased my Stratocaster from Jimmy’s on 48th St. for $200. I remember he had them stacked horizontally in his store. There must have been 10 of them, all pre CBS, all sunburst with tremolo bars. I was 14 years old. Never realized the fun and income I would have with that strat over the next 20years.

Reply
Frank Sclafani September 20, 2018 - 11:33 am

Hey Paul
Jimmy’s was a small store on the north side of 48th street. I bought a new set of drums there but they got caught up in a teamsters dock strike. Jimmy was king enough to give me my money back and sent me to Manny’s across the street where I got my Ludwig set.

Reply
Frank clafani August 28, 2018 - 9:33 am

I bought my first set of Ludwig Drums from Manny’s. It was a used 3 piece set 2 years old without cymbals. I paid $135.00, what a bargain. But let’s not forget Henry Adler’s place on 46th Street. I got my cymbals there and a floor tom to complete the set. Henry was a great guy and so was Charlie Tappen who worked there. Charlie was famous for perfecting the timbales. A great drummer in his own right. Met Buddy Rich there and Gene Krupa also. A lot of studio musicians hung out there including Tony Mattola who played guitar for Sinatra, Dion and the like. And your right Billy, 40% was the standard discount of the day. Don’t know what they are doing today.

Reply
Frank Sclafani August 28, 2018 - 9:38 am

Hey Billy, I hung out at the Metropole every afternoon after high school. The bands would play above the bar so it was easy to see them from the open doors. The band at the time was the “T” Mates, great sound and they appeared on the Clay Cole show at that time.

Reply
Ted December 31, 2018 - 10:10 am

My first guitar [Goya N-21) was bought for me at one of those stores. I now own two of them along with at least forty others types and manufactures.. M y first. N-21 was destroyed in a car accident in the early seventies. Goya which was the real name of the swedish manufacturer was bought by Martin in the seventies in and put out of business by them. I now have two of them that I bought a few years ago.

Reply
Wylde Zen June 18, 2019 - 10:20 am

Wow – I purchased many pieces from Manny’s – my favorite was purchased in ’78 and was a Wine Red ’74 Les Paul Custom. With the case, 3 sets of strings and a pedal it was $575 (funny the receipt just says “Pedal”). Still have that guitar, all beat up, she plays awesome!

Reply
Danny S November 22, 2019 - 7:57 am

Spoke to a good friend of mine yesterday and told me the sad news of the stores on 48th street. Bought my ’77 Fender Precision for $400 at We Buy Guitars in the ’80’s and a ’61 Les Paul SG for $600 at Alex Music in ’75 – still have them. This part of New York was so iconic – hate to see what happened here, really sad.

Reply
Jimmy’s daughter February 3, 2020 - 11:25 pm

Thanx for taking me down memory lane, especially since my dad owned Jimmy’s!

Reply
WV April 4, 2020 - 12:34 pm

I bought a Martin D-18 in March of 74 at Terminal Music. Price: $385 with the case. (A fortune to me at the time.) I still have both the guitar and the case. I lived in upstate NY, and a friend told me Terminal had the best price.

Reply
Anonymous April 19, 2020 - 5:32 pm

I still have the Martin D-18 (serial #285486) that I bought from Terminal Music in 1971. I traded an acoustic arch-top for $100 credit. As I recall, I stopped in Manny’s first. At the time 48th St was an exciting place to visit for any musician. In addition to the big name stores, there were many small shops that specialized in unusual instruments. I remember seeing a lute in one of those shops.

Reply
Ray July 25, 2020 - 9:25 am

Bought my first guitar, an Ibanez Rocket Roll, Flying V II at Alex’s on 48th street followed by a Gibson Flying V at Manny’s. I also purchased an Ovation and numerous amplifiers and Effects pedals afterwards. I miss walking by music row and Window shopping, life was so much simpler then. I still have Most of the gear I bought there as a memento to a different era.

Reply
Milton Reder October 5, 2020 - 11:14 am

I bought my first “serious” guitar from Henry at Manny’s in 1967, a Gibson Barney Kessel Custom, in the bright two tone red/yellow sunburst. Why a Kessel? I had no idea who Barney Kessel was (HE played a 175), but I was a huge fan of the Rascals, and this is the guitar played by their man, Gene Cornish. The bell-like clarity of his sound knocked me out. I owned an Italian Fender copy, the Goya Panther, a Surf guitar looking for a beach, so when my auntie fell over a sidewalk crack and successfully sued NYC, she bought me the Kessel, for $650. Henry told me it had been ordered by Gene himself, who had changed his mind. I didnt know enough about guitars to realize there was a warp in the neck (green wood), making it a bit difficult to play. Undeterred, I dragged the outsize instrument all over the world for the next half century, the neck breaking several times, but coming back better after each repair. The guitar has retired from the Road, but plays better than ever! At Manny’s, in the old days, before the customer was king, everybody wanted to try out the amazing guitars in the showroom, just for kicks, and you could hear Henry asking kids, “you buying today? You got cash?” If not, come back when you’re serious. New York History.

Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.