Dirty Water Guitar Marathon, 1997

In an effort to commemorate the 25th anniversaries of two New England born powerhouse retail chains, Tweeter, Etc. and Daddy’s Junky Music, both founded in 1972, the CEOs of Daddy’s and Tweeter decided to hold a very special event to honor their Boston-area roots called the Dirty Water Guitar Marathon. The event would be held “on the banks of the river Charles” at the Hatch Shell on September 13th, 1997. Partnering with radio station WBCN– The Rock of Boston, the hope was to break the Guinness World Record for the most guitar players playing one song for the longest period of time. The record at the time was held in Canada with over 1,400 guitar players. “Our song selection was an easy choice” said Fred Bramante, founder and CEO of Daddy’s. Over 1,000 guitarists would gather to play the Standells’ classic, “Dirty Water.”

The format called for a band on the stage at the Hatch Shell to be playing the song, non-stop, for well over an hour. But, additional music gear would be set up on stage for special invitees to join in the performance. Those invitees would be included in a narrative by Bramante of a history of Boston rock and roll. At the appropriate moments during the narrative, legendary Boston rockers would come onto the stage and join in with the band. Appearances by Boston legends included Willie “Loco” Alexander, Ben Orr from The Cars, the band Boston’s Barry Goudreau, Tom Hambridge of TH and the Wreckage, Paul Geary and Pat Badger from Extreme, Farrenheit’s Charlie Farren, The Stompers’ Sal Baglio, Stu Hamm, Laurie Sargent’s Stu Kimball, John Cafferty and Gary Gramolini from The Beaver Brown Band, Wayne Ulaky of The Beacon Street Union, members of The Remains, New England‘s Hirsh Gardner, Trickster’s Steve Brown and PJ Farley and more.  

Unfortunately, while coming close, the world record was not broken. But, the event made national news and the 1,100 guitar players had a great and memorable time. 

Tweeter, Etc, which began with a single store on Commonwealth Avenue in Brookline in 1972, grew to a chain of more than 170 stores from coast to coast.  At one point, the chain held the naming rights to the Mansfield concert venue calling it The Tweeter Center. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2007.

Daddy’s Junky Music started in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1972 with Fred Bramante’s life savings of $600.  The company grew to 21 stores throughout New England and New York state. Daddy’s closed its doors in 2011.

(by Fred Bramante)

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