Lynn Martin Turns the Big 5-0!

Fifty years ago today, on May 7, 1954, the headlines were filled with amazing stories from around the world—including the birth announcement of future pro audio magnate Lynn Martin. 5/07/2004 8:00 AM Eastern

Fifty years ago today, on May 7, 1954, the headlines were filledwith amazing stories from around the world. The U.S., Great Britain andFrance rejected a Russian bid for membership in NATO; and RogerBannister, an Oxford medical student shattered track and field's mostfamed barrier, running a mile course in three minutes and 59 seconds.Looking off the newspaper front pages—meaning way off—youmight have noticed a tiny birth announcement for future pro audiomagnate Lynn Martin.

One of those guys who shrugged off the notion that he'd ever reach30—much less 50—Martin lived the ultimate dream rock’n’ roll lifestyle of playing screaming electric violinsolos in a long string of bands that ultimately went nowhere. However,the years of road life, filthy roadside bathrooms, late-night gigs insleazy clubs and an existence on cheap cigarettes and coldmorning-after pizza took their toll, and Martin gave up his wanderingways for a real daytime gig.

Pictured above right: Lynn Martin back in his days as a hippiemusician with the band Talus. Note that he seems to be holding himselfupright with his left hand.

Of course, as a musician, the ultimate fantasy job is to work in amusic store, selling gear to other people who somehow think they canmake money in this biz. It's always been this way, so he signed on atK&K Music in the bustling metropolis of Sacramento, Calif. Afterworking there long enough to get all of the gear he needed at anemployee discount, Martin quit and became a manufacturers rep for BrianTrankle & Associates, calling on local stores and dealers andwholesaling them gear that they could sell to musicians who thoughtthey could make money in this biz.

Pictured left: Lynn Martin today, having achieved his lifelongdream.

Martin’s friendly smile and easy-going nature helped him inhis new career, but also led to a stumble or two, according to SkipMaggiora of leading Sacramento retailer Skip's Music: "I always enjoyedgiving Lynn a hard time and he made it very easy since he could bepretty gullible. Even before he heard the news, I already knew he wouldbe offered the rep job. This was a perfect opportunity pull a fast oneon my good friend Lynn. Knowing he'd be my new rep for Audio-Technicaand Digitech, I sat in my office and waited for his call, which camelater that day. Lynn was excited and said, 'I have some good news foryou,' but before he could say anything else, I said, 'I've got somenews for you: You don't have to worry about losing any of those A-T orDigitech sales [from K&K] to Skip's anymore, because I justdiscontinued both lines!' There was a long silence on the other end ofthe phone and with a whole lot less excitement in his voice, Lynnasked, 'You're not doing business with A-T or Digitech anymore?' Iquickly said, 'No, never again. Why?' I let him stew on it as long as Icould. I knew that he had probably already seen just how much businesswe were doing in his new territory and had calculated those numbersinto his new paycheck. Of course, I was just kidding him and went on todo a lot of business with Lynn."

Turning his back on the Golden State, Martin pulled up stakes andmoved to Salt Lake City in 1991, beginning a long stint with the HarmanMusic Group, helping to develop the Allen & Heath and dbx brands.In a November 2002 interview in Mix magazine, he was quoted as saying,"I knew I was in the right profession when I found myself developing,marketing and selling products for the brands and the type of gear thatI used to dream of owning." However, what he really meant to say wasthat as a manufacturer, he could use rep firms to sell gear to dealerswho'd sell gear to musicians who thought they could make money in thisbiz. And after eight years of that (and a long, unfulfilled yearningfor decent local sushi), he returned to California as the VP ofmerchandising for Guitar Center's technology division.

Allen & Heath left the Harman group in 2001, and Martin saw anopportunity. Some months later, he left Guitar Center to form NAPA(North American Pro Audio), an Agoura Hills, Calif.-based consortiumthat handles U.S. distribution of A&H and other brands, includingthe famed Swedish Hagstrom guitars, again putting Lynn ever-closer tothat lifelong dream of selling gear to people who think they can makemoney in this biz.

So today, May 7, 2004, marks Lynn Martin's first half-century. Ifyou know Martin, drop a note or call to wish him a couplemore...half-centuries, that is. He'll appreciate it.

Mix correspondent George Petersen also, a Website offering wacky children's music booksto people who think there's money to be made in the music biz.

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