Daddy’s Junky Music: The Prequel?

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

I’ve always been addicted to Rock ‘n’ Roll. 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 would come to play.

It was the early to mid 1960’s and I was a teenager. I saw Dick Clark and his Cavalcade 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 with 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 and his Ray Men, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Searchers (“Needles and Pins-a”). I saw Mark Dinning lip-sync “Teen Angel,” and so many more great acts from the late fifties and early sixties. 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 would wait at the center of the wooden entrance until they opened it and would immediately run to the stage, not to see the show, but to gaze at the music gear set up of the opening act.  I would check out their guitars, amps, drums, etc. and prejudge the opening band based on their ability to afford expensive music equipment. If the guitar player was playing a Fender Stratocaster (list price, at the time, $350), I would surmise that he couldn’t afford a Fender Jaguar (about $495) or a Gretsch Country Gentleman (about $750), and, therefore, they probably weren’t that good. I guess I was wrong. Those 1950’s and early 60’s Stratocasters are, today, among the most valuable electric guitars on the planet. 

I love electric guitars. I see them as an American art form. This love of music gear would later show itself in the form of Daddy’s Junky Music Stores. While I didn’t officially start Daddy’s until 1972, I bought my first instrument, for the purpose of resale, in 1966, on the tail end of one of my many joyful nights at Canobie. It’s almost as if Canobie Lake Park was grooming me for 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 name Terry Hanley, who went on to do the sound at Woodstock. I loved the Remains. They were heroes to me. Little did I realize that the opportunity to become friends with lead singer and guitarist Barry Tashian would happen later through Daddy’s.  

Today, the Canobie Lake Ballroom still plays rock ‘n’ roll, but, now in the form of high quality, amusement park tribute shows like Elvis, Madonna, and Michael Jackson.
However, in the rear of the ballroom is a museum built to honor the park’s past. Artifacts from the old days at Canobie include the piano that Jerry Lee Lewis played on at the park and a full-size statue of “the Killer” himself, as he appeared on the Canobie stage. 

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

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