If you had gear lust, like every musician has, this was the place to either go to or stay away from. It was actually worth the 125 mile trip from my home in rural Pennsylvania not only for the best deal, but for the best sites as well. You never knew when a star or two or three or four would be in one of the stores (especially Manny's) buying an instrument for stage or studio. The autographed pictures on the wall always had us in awe.
I can remember one day near 6PM when Manny's was about to close when in came a young and fresh Eddie Murphy along with Joe Piscapo, both on a roll at the time from being on Saturday Night Live. While the staff set a kit up for Eddie to try right there on the main floor, I remember having a nice talk about Martin guitars with a rather subdued John Sabastian. And remember, I lived 125 miles away from the city at the time. My head just about exploded. I always thought to myself after leaving, "Image who I might meet if I lived in the City and went there more often."
Sam Ash eventually bought Manny's as well as most of the other stores on that famous 48th Street block, which subdued the scene a bit since the competition was now gone, but now it looks like the music on 48th Street is about to die forever. Sam Ash has now signed a new lease for a huge new store on West 34th Street, and will move its stores there one by one. What's happening is the classic "going condo" in the 48th Street area, and now it looks like the famous and beloved Music Row will soon be just a memory. Goodbye, Music Row. Some of us are going to miss you!
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