Henry Goldrich, Gear Guru to Rock Stars, Is Useless at 88

When asked about his musical skills, Henry Goldrich would often say, “I play the cash register.”

Its stage was Manny’s Music in Manhattan, where Mr. Goldrich, the longtime owner, provided gear for a generation of rock stars. But even though he was selling instead of jingling, Mr. Goldrich secured an important role in rock by combining famous musicians with state-of-the-art equipment.

“Henry was the superstar for these guys,” said his son Judd. “He was the first to get equipment they’d never seen before.”

Mr. Goldrich died on February 16 at his home in Boca Raton, Florida. He was 88 years old.

His death was confirmed by his other son, Ian, who said he was in frail but stable health.

Manny’s, which closed in 2009 after 74 years in business, has long been the largest and most famous of the music stores on the West 48th Street Block, known as Music Row.

It was opened by Mr. Goldrich’s father Manny in 1935 and has been a second home for Henry since he was a child when he was hit by swing star business customers. Ella Fitzgerald would babysit for him at the store when his parents went out for lunch, Ian Goldrich said.

By 1968, when his father died at the age of 62, Henry Goldrich had largely taken over the business and turned the business into an equipment mecca and meeting place for world-famous artists.

He did this by expanding his inventory of the latest equipment and strengthening relationships with suppliers who helped him keep high quality instruments and new products in stock.

At a time before rock stars were getting the latest gear straight from manufacturers, Manny’s was favored by top musicians looking for and trying out new gear.

These included two 1960s guitar gods, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, whom Ian Goldrich said his father recommended the wah-wah pedal, an electronic device that immediately became an integral part of both musicians’ approaches. He added that Hendrix would buy dozens of guitars on credit and have Mr. Goldrich tune them to the guitarist’s discerning preferences.

Many rock and pop classics were either played or written on instruments sold by Mr. Goldrich.

John Sebastian, founder of Lovin ‘Spoonful, recalled in an interview how Mr. Goldrich helped him choose the Gibson J-45 in the mid-1960s, which he used for early spoonful recordings such as “Do you believe in magic?” Used.

Mr. Goldrich similarly compared James Taylor to a quality Martin acoustic guitar early in his career, his son Ian said. And Sting used the Fender Stratocaster Mr. Goldrich sold him to compose “Message in a Bottle” and many other hits for the police before donating them to the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1970 he sold Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour the black 1969 Stratocaster, which he played on many of the band’s landmark recordings. It auctioned in 2019 for a record $ 3,975,000.

Pete Townshend of The Who ordered dozens of expensive electric guitars from Mr. Goldrich, who was not happy when he heard of the guitarist’s fondness for destroying his instrument on stage for the theatrical effect.

“It was a good deal,” said Ian Goldrich, “but my father was upset that Pete broke all the guitars he sold him.”

Unlike many of his flamboyant Rockstar clients, Mr. Goodrich always conventionally wore a sports coat and maintained a dull demeanor that reassured his clients.

“He had a gruff personality; He treated them all equally, ”said Ian Goldrich. “He would tell Bob Dylan, ‘Sit in the back and I’ll be with you in a minute.'”

There was the day in 1985 – it was Black Friday and the store was full – that Mick Jagger and David Bowie stopped by together and caused a commotion that stopped sales. An annoyed Mr. Goldrich quickly sold them their items and rushed them out.

“My dad said, ‘What are you doing here today?'” Ian recalled. “He didn’t kick her out, but he wasn’t happy.”

When the band Guns N ‘Roses asked to shoot part of the video for their 1989 hit “Paradise City” in the store, Ian Goldrich agreed, his father reluctantly agreed, and said, “OK, but we’re not closing for them . ”

Mr. Goldrich told Harry Chapin in 1972 that his new song “Taxi” was almost seven minutes too long to be a hit. (It hit the top 40 and is now considered a classic.) And he told Paul Simon, who bought his first guitar at Manny’s as a boy, that he thought Simon and Garfunkel were a “bad name” for a group.

But he also advised new stars in a fatherly way not to waste their newfound wealth.

“He would take her aside and say, ‘You make money now – how are you going to take care of it?'” Said Ian Goldrich.

Henry Jerome Goldrich was born on May 15, 1932 to Manny and Julia Goldrich and grew up in Brooklyn and Hewlett on Long Island. After graduating from Adelphi College, he served in the Korean Army in the mid-1950s and then worked full time at Manny’s.

His father opened the store on West 48th Street, a location he chose because it was close to Broadway theaters and 52nd Street jazz clubs, as well as numerous recording studios and the Brill Building, a music publishing hub. In 1999, Mr. Goldrich sold Manny’s to Sam Ash Music, a rival business that largely retained its staff until Manny’s closed in 2009.

In addition to his sons, Mr. Goldrich survived his wife Judi. his daughter Holly Goldrich; seven grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Mr. Goldrich often used his prominent clientele to market the shop. “He saw the value of these people in the store and it made the business safe,” said his son Judd.

When a young Eric Clapton, then with the Cream group, was stuck in New York with no money to fly home to England, he offered Mr. Goldrich his amplifiers to raise funds.

“He said, ‘I’ll buy them from you as long as you stencil them with the Cream logo,” said Ian.

Then there was the wall of fame of the business, thousands of signed promotional photos of famous customers representing a who’s who of pop music. Mr. Goldrich helped maintain the photos, many of which were registered for him, and often prevented his staff from stacking goods in front of them.

In a video interview, Mr Taylor described how intrigued by the photos as a teenager and proud when his own were added. “It was kind of inside-out, not as celebrated as a Grammy or a gold record or a position on the charts,” he said. “But you would definitely have arrived if you were locked in on this wall.”

Mr. Goldrich became close friends with many musicians, including Who’s bassist John Entwistle, who visited Judd’s Bar Mitzvah in New Jersey and housed the Goldrich family in his Gothic mansion in England. Ian remembered the band’s drummer, Keith Moon, sitting on his father’s lap, drinking cognac at a screening of the film “Tommy”.

In a video interview, Mr. Goldrich described how he sold an electric violin to the violinist Itzhak Perlman. When Mr. Perlman tried to negotiate, Mr. Goldrich parried by asking if he had ever lowered his performance fee.

“He said:” It’s different, I am a talent, “recalled Mr. Goldrich.” I said: ‘I am also a talent in my own way.’ “

This talent was evident in Mr. Sebastian when he asked Mr. Goldrich to allow him to test his inventory of Gibson acoustic guitars in a warehouse.

“Henry’s known prickly demeanor subsided slightly,” recalled Sebastian and agreed to open early the next morning to let him in.

“He knew exactly what I wanted,” he said. “And I’ll be damned if I don’t catch Henry smiling as he wrote the bill.”

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