Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Jim Crockett, the former Editor and President of Guitar Player magazine. Jim has recently release a memoir of his time at Guitar Play entitled Guitar Player: The Inside Story of the First Two Decades of the Most Successful Guitar Magazine Ever.
Unlike other memoirs I have read from the music industry, Jim’s book isn’t about name dropping, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. The book tells the stories of the people who made Guitar Player what it is. Columnists, photographers, layout designers, and even early advertisers, all worked with Jim, and his daughter, Dara, to piece together the story of how Guitar Player came to be. Now don’t get me wrong, many great guitarist are included, but they compliment the story instead of overshadowing it.
I truly enjoyed this read on two levels. First as a guitarist, it was great seeing old covers I remember from my earlier days (I even have a few of those old copies on my shelf). Second as a marketer, I love seeing the mutual respect Jim had with many of the biggest names in the industry and it’s truly fascinating to read how they worked together to build the publication and their brands. On top of that, I love “vintage” ads… Not as much as I love vintage guitars, but close.
Possibly the most fascinating part of the book for me was reading about the grassroots movements used to bring a small country & folk magazine to the forefront of rock and roll.
In the interview, Jim recounts a great story of getting Gibson to fund a full color add on the back cover which meant the entire cover would be in color. He ended his story by saying,“…all of the sudden we looked better than we were and the industry accepted that and the advertisers started coming in.” It truly is a story of, in today’s terms, going viral two decades before the internet existed.
If you’re a guitarist and have ever picked up a copy of Guitar Player, this will be an enjoyable read for you. You can pick up a copy on Amazon here.
You can hear the interview in its entirety below.