Daddy’s Junky Music: The Prequel?

Daddy’s Junky Music: The Prequel?

I’ve always been addicted to rock ‘n’ roll and the ballroom at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire, was my drug of choice. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a town where the first generation of rock stars came to play.

Between the early and mid-1960s, when I was a teenager, I saw Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars. I saw the Beach Boys, with Glen Campbell taking Brian Wilson’s place on bass. I saw The Yardbirds, with Jimmy Page playing his Telecaster using a violin bow. I saw Sonny and Cher when “I Got You, Babe” was the #1 song in America. I saw Duane Eddy, Link Wray & His Ray Men, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Searchers (“Needles and Pins”). I saw Mark Dinning lip-sync “Teen Angel” and loads of other great acts from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Oh, and did I mention that I even saw The Beacon Street Union at Canobie Lake Park?

I was usually the first one in the ballroom. I’d wait at the center of the wooden entrance until they opened it and would immediately run toward the stage, not to see the show per se, but to gaze at the opening act’s gear. I’d check out their amps, guitars, drums and other equipment and prejudge them based on their ability to afford the most expensive stuff. For example, if the guitarist was playing a Fender Stratocaster (list price $350 at the time), I’d surmise that he couldn’t afford a Fender Jaguar (about $495) or a Gretsch Country Gentleman (about $750) and therefore the band probably wasn’t that good. But I guess I was wrong since today those ‘50s- and ‘60s-era Strats are among the most valuable electric guitars on the planet.

My love of music gear would later show itself in the form of Daddy’s Junky Music Stores. While I didn’t officially start that retail chain until 1972, I bought my first instrument for the purpose of resale in 1966, at the tail end of one of my many joyful nights at Canobie Lake. It’s almost as if the ballroom there was grooming me for founding Daddy’s.

If I had to pick my favorite of all of the Canobie Lake concerts, I’d say it was The Remains. It was LOUD! They had a sound guy named Terry Hanley, who went on to do the sound at Woodstock. I loved the band; they were heroes to me. Little did I realize that the opportunity to become friends with the group’s lead singer and guitarist, Barry Tashian, would happen later through Daddy’s.

These days, the ballroom at Canobie Lake Park still presents rock ‘n’ roll, but in the form of tribute shows to artists like Elvis, Madonna and Michael Jackson. In the rear of the space, however, is a fabulous museum built to honor the room’s illustrious past. Artifacts from the ballroom’s old days include the piano that Jerry Lee Lewis played during an appearance there and a full-size statue of “The Killer” himself during a show on the ballroom’s stage.

So did Canobie Lake Park light the spark that would become Daddy’s? I say, “Yes!”

(by Fred Bramante)

Fred Bramante was the founder and chief executive of Daddy’s Junky Music Stores.

Published On: March 12, 2024