A Final Visit to Manny's Music on 48th St.

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Manny's Music on 48th St. NYC

Ibanez and Dean guitars on display at Manny's

This weekend, I made a final pilgrimage to Manny’s Music on 48th St., one of the greatest places in New York City.  It has been a mainstay of the City’s music street, where most of the stores sell instruments, dating back dozens of years.  Times Square still houses many live musical, it’s easy to assume that its proximity to Broadway theaters is why the stores were on that street.

And Manny’s was the biggest, most impressive of all these stores, which includes Sam Ash, Rudy’s Guitars and the aforementioned brass and wind store I don’t know the name of.  With two full floors filled with every style and shape of instrument, and covered with glossies of the people who had shopped there, it was a museum I visited many times as a teenager, just to look at the pictures.  One day in 1981, I actually bought a guitar there, which I still play.

If you wanted to buy a saxophone, or a drum machine (I bought one there in 1986) 48th Street was the place.  When I was just learning about bands and music, Manny’s was a place where the art came in contact with the practical – whether you were Count Basie or Talking Heads, this was an essential stop.  The pictures were evidence of this, and you could even imagine some rock stars being impressed with them too.  All genres and eras disappeared on those walls.  Kay Ballard’s picture is literally right next to Iggy Pop’s!

But it isn’t over yet.  As you know, Guitar Hero is the most popular video game of all time for the same reason there are air guitar contests – guitar playing and music are so great, “it’s fun to lose and to pretend” (to quote Kurt Cobain who’s Jagmaster hung prominently at Manny’s yesterday).

Click here to see more photos.

Sam Ash has purchased Manny’s, and the space will probably become Club Monaco or another generic retailer.  There is already a book by Manny’s son, The Wall of Fame, that compiled the pictures and tells a history of the store as well.

But I will miss it deeply and could have easily cried yesterday.  Take a look at the rest of the photos I took here, and stop by Manny’s Virtual Wall Project if you have time.  There are interviews being conducted for a documentary, and a sign in the store gave this site and the contacts Sandi and Holly for those who are interested in contributing.

Thanks to Manny’s on 48th Street for so many good memories and music.  Hundreds of visits, one guitar.  I wish I could have bought more.  To say it’s the end of an era is a cliched understatement, and you can bet none of the people on the walls of Manny’s got there by being unoriginal or trite.  Manny’s provided axes to the world… for every Jimi Hendrix, there were countless hobbyists.  We have all lost something real that helped so many speak the language of music.  Its environment alone was an inspiration.

Other posts on the closing of Manny’s:

New York Rocker: Manny’s Music Store

Lost City: “Manny’s to Close in Ma, Entire Music Row of W. 48th Endangered”

Broken Record Retail Archives: “Sun Setting on New York’s Music Row”

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